Tag Archives: start writing a book

We Need to Know Your Characters Before We Care

You can start your novel any way you like.

Bad way: open your book with your character waking up. We all do this every day, and it’s been done in books so many times, that you’ll need some pretty fancy writing to make it interesting. And if you give in to the urge to over-write, it will look as if you’re trying too hard.

This article, Miss Snark’s First Victim: Baker’s Dozen Observations, offers you another bad way to start your book, with your character in extremis:

“Here’s the TRUTH:  It’s INHERENT CONFLICT that keeps a reader reading.  And ‘conflict’ is not synonymous with ‘action’.  If I’ve just met your MC for the first time, and she’s jumping off a cliff or smashing her car into a tree or shooting somebody or lying on the ground bleeding from every orifice,  I’m not going to care a whole lot about why.  I need a reason to be invested in your character BEFORE she’s bleeding or running or crashing or killing. “

I think this is the best opening to a novel I’ve ever read:


Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys’ house. The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with a French girl, who had been a governess in their family, and she had announced to her husband that she could not go on living in the same house with him. This position of affairs had now lasted three days, and not only the husband and wife themselves, but all the members of their family and household, were painfully conscious of it. Every person in the house felt that there was no sense in their living together, and that the stray people brought together by chance in any inn had more in common with one another than they, the members of the family and household of the Oblonskys. The wife did not leave her own room, the husband had not been at home for three days. The children ran wild all over the house; the English governess quarreled with the housekeeper, and wrote to a friend asking her to look out for a new situation for her; the man-cook had walked off the day before just at dinner time; the kitchen-maid, and the coachman had given warning.

Of course, it’s the opening to Tolstoy’s classic, Anna Karenina.

Do you want to know more? Of course you do. You read on.

That’s the single goal of the first page of your book: to get readers to the second page. From the second to the third, and so on. Every page must drive the reader to read the next. You can’t let up for a moment.

Look at your Work in Progress. Does it each page entice your readers to the next? We need to care before we’ll read. Make us care.

Image credit

How to Sneak Up on Writing Your Book

Writers Ultimate Cash Formula

Want to sneak up on writing your book? You can. Authors no longer write their books in isolation; readers read authors’ work as they write, and this helps authors immensely.

The big benefit of having readers is that you receive feedback. You’ll see very quickly what readers respond to, and what they don’t. This is amazing; it’s powerful. Your readers will inspire you to write, and they’ll become the first buyers of your books.

Author EL James, of Fifty Shades of Grey fame, wrote her books as fan fiction. As she wrote, she collected readers. Those readers’ responses helped her to produce phenomenally successful bestsellers.

There are many sites which will allow you to write your book online, and get readers and feedback as you write. They include Wattpad, and Writer’s Bloq.

You’re sneaking up on your book, because you’re writing just a chapter or two at a time, rather than waiting to write the entire book before you start looking for feedback.

If you’re not comfortable on large sites, you can post your writing on your own blog. You won’t have as many readers, and you’ll need to promote your blog. However, you will get feedback as you write.

How to Get Started Sneaking up on Writing Your Book

1. Decide What You Want to Write

Novelists are divided into two main types: the free writers, and the outliners.

Free writing novelists (also called “pantsers” because they write by the seat of their pants) just start writing, telling themselves the story.

Outlining novelists like to know exactly where their book is going before they get started on the writing. They outline each scene and chapter.

You’ll soon discover whether you’re a pantser, or an outliner.

2. Set a Goal for the Number of Words You Want to Write Each Day

Without a daily word count goal, you’ll procrastinate. Choose the number of words you think you can write on a good day, and then halve it. Set that number of words as your daily goal.

Post your daily output to a website, or to your own blog.

3. Develop a Routine

To write a book, you need to fit writing into your daily schedule.

Most writers find that they write best either late in the evening, or first thing in the morning. However, you may find that you like writing during your lunch hour, or before dinner.

Choose a time and write, and then stick to that time. When the time arrives, sit down at your computer and start writing.

Although writing a book can be a huge undertaking, you can sneak up on it. Many successful writers have done it, and you can too.

Turn Your Words Into Gold: Write and Sell An Ebook In Just Eight Hours


Here’s what I love about writing ebooks: you write them once, and they keep on selling forever.

I know several writers who’ve taken to the Kindle platform like the proverbial ducks to water. One writer friend turns out a new Kindle ebook every month, like clockwork. The last time we spoke, she had 11 ebooks selling — and her income is rising month by month.

Another writer friend mixes writing her own ebooks, with writing ebooks for others. Currently she’s been commissioned to write a biography, and a family history, for the same client. She’s finding it huge fun, and she’s making more money than she’s ever made.

The benefit of writing and selling ebooks is that once written, they can keep on selling forever. Would you trade eight hours for an income stream?