The first time you’re writing a book, you might feel lost as to where to begin. And we’d know — over the years, we’ve had countless questions asked in our Instagram AMA’s and our Facebook writer’s group. On this page, we’ve set out to answer all the most common questions we’ve encountered.
There’s really only one way: open up a blank page, and put words on it. The words will be terrible; this is fine. Keep writing until they’re no longer terrible.
If you’d like a head start, we made free online course just for you:
If you value speed, backups and maintaining muscle function in your fingers, the computer is your friend. If you’re easily distracted or want to look really cool at your local café, go pen or feather quill.
Something to write with, something to write on, and a family size bag of Skittles.
Motivation and productivity
Anywhere between a day and several decades is A‑okay. By which we mean to say: comparing yourself to other writers is a surefire way to drive yourself insane — if you’re making progress, you’re doing great!
That depends on your schedule, but consistency is key. It’s better to write 15 minutes a day for a week, than to write 3 hours in one sitting.
Literally anywhere. Inspiration isn’t a single bolt of lightning: it’s a million little static shocks. Always have your story in the back of your mind, and you’ll soon discover there’s beautiful stories hidden in our everyday lives.
NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month; a glorious time in November when countless writers across the world set out to write 50.000 words in one month’s time.
No — in fact, that’d be nearly impossible. Novel writing is more like growing a tree than building a house: all you need is one initial idea that the rest of your story can grow out of.
That’s mostly a matter of preference, but it’s a good idea to at least have tried. It is better to have outlined and then ignored it, than to never have outlined at all.
Absolutely not. If you find something better, go with that better thing.
You don’t — start with whatever you have most inspiration for. Once you’re in a flow, it’ll be a lot easier to fill in the gaps.
Think of what you know about your character’s background, and then go with what feels right. If you don’t know your character yet, feel free to use a placeholder name until you do.
It’s essential for us to empathise with your characters; to understand why they do the things they do, even if we find them revolting. This means they should have not just sensible motivations, but their own flaws and insecurities as well.
As many as works for your story. A single point-of-view tends to be more intimate and focused, whereas multiple ones allow you to play with opposing views and multiple story lines.
More than anything, we need to understand why they do the things they do. Their actions need to make sense for them, as people; not just for your story.
Without fail, the most compelling romances are between real, three-dimensional characters. Write people first, lovers second.
As long as is needed to tell your story. There’s so much difference between stories that word count is a fairly useless metric, but everything you write should move the story forward.
That being said, certain genres are known for being somewhat heftier than others. For reference, here’s the word count to a few novels you may have heard of:
- A Game of Thrones: 298.000 words
- The Da Vinci Code: 182,085 words
- A Tale of Two Cities: 135,420 words
- To Kill a Mockingbird: 99,121 words
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone: 76.944 words
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: 26.432 words
- The Alchemist: 47,580 words
- Le Petit Prince: 34,510 words
In a lot of cases: no. Many new writers make the mistake of using a prologue to share every minor detail of their storyworld, also called an info dump. As a general rule of thumb: first make your readers care about your characters, then tell them about the backstory.
Not by default, no. Chapter length is a great way for you to control your pacing: shorter chapters usually feel fast-paced but are more superficial, whereas longer chapters can go deeper but tend to also feel slower.
You should. Beta readers are great for showing you what parts of your story work, and what parts do not. They’re not there to come up with solutions, however — that’s your job.
That’s a tricky one. Unfortunately, there are many people who’d like their stories to be read, and not nearly as many willing to do the same for others. You’ll have a much better chance if you break that cycle: find fellow authors looking for beta readers, and offer to read their work in exchange for yours.
Not at all. There’s a million reasons you might get rejected, and many of them are business-related. Supposedly, Harry Potter got rejected 12 times.
No. Self-published authors are much like indie musicians: many of them might not reach a certain standard, but there’s plenty of gems that are well worth the hassle.
No, although some are slow to innovate. The publishing industry is hard, but the people in it are mostly just as passionate about books as you are.
Absolutely not — steer very, very clear. You’re dealing with a so-called vanity publisher, who are malicious vultures profiting off an author’s desire to see their name on the bookshelves. They make their money off of your desperation, not by selling your novels.