Step By Step: From Initial Idea to Finished Book by Susanne Loxton

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Denise Alicea

This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc


Step By Step: From Initial Idea to Finished Book


Ernest Hemingway once commented that ‘there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’ This notion conveys both the intrinsic difficulty and ease that writing simultaneously poses. Writing a book is neither impossible nor easy, it takes perseverance and the desire to really want to do it. Much as we might like to believe the romantic notion of an artist as one who is overcome by inspiration randomly, that’s not quite how it happens.

If you want to write, here we explain – in simplified terms – how to go about it. If you wait for the thunderbolt – it may never come; instead, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

  1. Brainstorm

Every book begins with an idea. Were we to see the kernel of the notion that started some of the most celebrated books in history, we probably wouldn’t recognise them as the stories we know & love. If you have an idea, follow it. Tease it out on the page. See what possibilities it holds.

Don’t get caught up worrying about whether it has already been done before, as it says in the Bible, ‘there is no new thing under the sun’. Every great work of literature follows a time old story, the important thing is how it is told.

  1. Research

No book can be written in isolation. We are all part of one big world and your new book will be your contribution to it. To do this you need to familiarise yourself with existing literature on your topic before you begin. Stephen King famously wrote that ‘if you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write’. It may sound a little harsh, but it’s true. Your ear, instincts and style will all improve the more you read.

You should also look outside of books to the real world to research locations, characters and events of significance.

  1. Outline

It may now seem inviting to just dive straight in to writing. Though some writers swear by this, you will find that most working writers depend heavily on their book outline. Break your story idea into chapters and plan out what occurs in each, this way you can control the arc of your story over time.

If you write without planning an outline you may find that the first couple of chapters contain mostly exposition with little action. This is one sure way to lose potential readers – and publishers before you even get off the starting blocks.

  1. Write

Get the story down on paper. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to exist. The way in which you write will depend on your own preference, but try to establish a routine and stick to it. Writing is hard work, think of it as a practice. There will be days when it is the last thing you want to do, nevertheless, sit down and do some writing exercises to limber you up. Then begin.

  1. Edit

Once your first draft is complete take a short break from it. Allowing yourself distance from it will help establish a degree of perspective for when you take to it with your red pen. Your skill as a reader now comes to the fore. Read aloud to yourself to see how the words feel, if they trip you up then they probably need to be edited.

Do the first few edits yourself. Look for ways to improve your work – consider anything which makes your story more real. When you have made all the changes that you think are necessary, then it is time to hand it over to a professional. Editors offer a range of different services, choose one to suit your budget and genre.

  1. Publish

Congratulations! Your first manuscript is now ready to be sent out to the world. Self-publishing has proven itself as a viable alternative for many writers in recent times. There is a lot of work involved in this process, including the areas of design and marketing. Fully research this before committing to this path.

The traditional publishing route, which involves sending your opening chapters, synopsis and cover letter to publishers can be a frustrating process, as it is beset by rejection. Your pitch needs to be refined in the same way as your manuscript was to ensure that it is perfect. Learn from the rejections and move on.

Writing a book is no easy task, but if you are passionate enough to stick it out through thick and thin, eventually you can enjoy knowing that words conjured up inside your heart have moved another human being. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.


Author’s Bio: Susanne Loxton is a literature enthusiast who combines her zeal for reading with a passion for writing. On a daily basis, Susanne works for Aubiz, a compendium of knowledge about companies in her native Australia.


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