Jerry B. Jenkins is an American writer and biographer, author of over 190 books, 21 of which have reached the New York Times bestseller list.
In this article we report the translation of his best 14 tips on how to write a book.
Find your corner of paradise. Search for a place in your home or wherever you want where you can be sure of having privacy, silence and where you know you can concentrate 100%.
Don’t skimp on your work tools, you’ll spend many hours in front of the PC monitor, sitting on the chair so look for the highest possible quality compatible with your pockets, paper, pens and pencils, keep everything handy, this will keep you from getting up and distract you when you sit down to write.
Break your writing project into many small pieces, just so you won’t be afraid to write books longer than 400–500 pages if you do you won’t be afraid of not being able to write all the pages of your novel, imagine eating an elephant , how do you do it? One piece at a time …
Find your Big idea. The idea behind a book must necessarily be “big” if your idea is not big enough then better to write an article or blog post. How do you know if your idea is “big“?
It is if you stay with you during the day, if you can’t help but talk about it with your spouse or friends.
Build your storytelling scheme. Before starting to write a book, always try to keep an eye on where in the story you are and where you are going if you are a seasoned writer or a newcomer if you do not understand the route, you could lose your route and stop I call the marathon of the middle (the marathon of the middle).
I too, who have written 190 books every single time I find myself having to deal with this difficult point, is this, after the opening and conclusion, the most important part of the book, it is here that you absolutely have to avoid your narration simply survives, but you have to make your writing more prosperous as possible, otherwise it is here that readers are more likely to abandon you. The same principle applies both to the writing of novels of fiction and non–fiction (essays, manuals, etc.) and reminds that the narrative scheme should serve as a reference point if at a certain point you see that the book is taking a fold different and unexpected, change the pattern don’t change the book!
Set a schedule and respect it: if you don’t have a deadline, if you don’t have a deadline and no one else gave it to you or expects the manuscript from you, then it’s very easy for your work to freeze at some point. You must give yourself some steps to respect and give yourself a deadline. Doing it is of fundamental importance. Think about the number of pages you want to write about: 400, 500? Divide it by the number of days you think you will want to use to write them, so you get the number of pages per day you need to write, when you start writing you will better understand the time you spend per page. If you see that you are able to write 10 pages a day then use this parameter to calculate how many days it will take you to write the number of pages you want your book to have, once you have the expiration date, keep it sacred, respect it whatever the cost, when I was a publisher only 1 author out of 100 respected this deadline, if you respect it you will stand out from 99% of writers.
Study research and learn more. You absolutely have to do it if you write about essays, you have to study and be an expert on what you’re writing, many writers neglect the fact that this study should be done even if you write fiction (narrative), in fact I think it’s even more important for the fiction: if you miss a detail in the story, while you are talking about a plane or weapons, you are sure that readers will point it out to you, try to pay the utmost attention to making the narrative credible. Then once you have finished your study, your research, do not fall into the trap of wanting to exhibit it to your reader, remember that the main node of the narrative is not to show how many things you know, or how much you have studied, the main node is the story that you want to tell, the study and the research must be the right seasoning that give credibility and specificity to the story.
Write the most compelling and “reader first” opening possible. If you manage to bring out an important and compelling novel opening at the moment the entire book will benefit. The opening can be:
Surprising – Dramatic – Philosophical, Poetic. Here is an example of Surprising: 1984 by George Orwell
Now let’s see what I mean when I say “Reader First” (the reader first), any choice you make for your novel must go through the “Reader First” filter, don’t think about the publisher, not the literary agent, not the critic or to the blogger, think only of the reader, of your reader
Fill your story with conflicts and tensions. This is what readers want, there is nothing more wrong and boring than writing a boring conversation between protagonists that is an end in itself, that leads to nothing. On the other hand, even if they are simply talking about the weather, the underlying conflict between the two conversationalists has to flash through the reader, what is the cause of their tension? Why is their relationship complicated? It is this conflict, it is this continuous tension that will keep the reader glued to your pages.
Turn off your proofreader soul. (As you write). Silence the critic who is in you at least until the next day. When you write concentrate only on this, write without thinking of the redundancies, cliches, logical sequences or simple typos. You will come back the next day, when you will put back the perfectionist’s hat and only then can you concentrate on all possible corrections.
Don’t give up during the middle marathon. Here Jenkins returns to a point that is fundamental for him and underlines the importance and the attention of this phase of writing, when one is in the middle of the narration, one must enrich and prosper with new elements and details, his own writing not surviving trying to lengthen solfa and hoping that the readers follow us until the end, because it will never happen, we must prepare the grand finale already in this phase, and this always regardless of whether you are writing about fiction or non–fiction.
Write a resounding ending. Take the right time to think and write it, I talked to many writers who easily wrote their manuscript and then they got stuck on the ending, if it’s unpredictable, it’s better to be correct and logical, so your reader won’t hear cheated, should be delighted with a surprise and not deceived, if you have more ideas, follow the one of the heart rather than the head, even in essays. Readers especially remember what shakes them.