What are the best tips for writing a book? We have you covered.
Maybe you have a book idea, and you’re thinking it would make a great book.
The problem? You’ve never written a book before. And with all the information out there on the steps to writing a book, you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Or maybe you have written a book, and you’ve learned a few things from it, but you’re also a bit embarrassed by the mistakes you made. You want this new book to be something you’ll be proud to share and to talk about with others.
You’re ready for a clear and simple guide on how to write a book. And you’ve just found one. For this article, we’ve curated the best book writing tips you’re likely to find in books and on the web.
So, grab a cup of something you like, and read on.
Why Learning to Write Better Is Such an Important Skill
Learning to write better has so many real-life applications, and it’s a tragedy that so few leave school (and yes, I’m including college) with a solid understanding of what makes for good writing.
As someone who wants to write a book, you already know you can make your editor’s (as well as your reader’s) life a lot easier if you know how to write well. And you learn by doing.
You learn to write by writing. You also learn by imitating exceptional writers. Benjamin Franklin taught himself to write by copying (by hand) other people’s work.
Think about that for a second. Someday, because you put in the work, your own readers might learn to write better because of something you wrote.
All the more reason to learn the tips that follow.
- Why Learning to Write Better Is Such an Important Skill
- 1. Write something (anything) every day.
- 2. Establish a writing space and time.
- 3. Assemble your writing tools.
- 4. Map out your book idea.
- 5. Write in smaller chunks.
- 6. Treat writing like interval training.
- 7. Summarize your book — and break it into smaller pieces.
- 8. Break your book into smaller pieces.
- 9. Use an app like Evernote to store your ideas.
- 10. Stop each day when the going is good.
- 11. Get early feedback.
- 12. Set weekly targets.
- 13. Sketch it out.
- 14. Write from a character’s perspective.
- 15. Single or series?
- 16. Get a fantastic book cover.
- 17. Pencil in some procrastination.
- 18. Turn off your inner editor (while writing your first draft).
- 19. Give your story a strong opening.
- 20. Give your story plenty of conflict.
- 21. Think like a reader.
- 22. Find beta readers who read your genre.
- 23. Commit to a “shipping” date.
- 24. Cut yourself some slack.
- 25. Create a plan for your book launch and marketing.
- 26. Write the book you wish existed before you knew what you know now.
- 27. Do your research.
- 28. Keep it simple. Keep it clear.
- 29. Start with something short.
- 30. Eliminate filler words and redundancies to tighten your writing.
- 31. Call Yourself a Writer
31 Tips for Writing a Book
Tips for Writing a Book for Beginners
Every writer starts somewhere. Book writing tips for beginners should take nothing for granted, other than your love of words and your interest in writing a book.
1. Write something (anything) every day.
It’s important that you develop the habit of writing every single day. It can help to subscribe to an email list that provides daily writing tips not only to remind you of your daily writing commitment but to help you improve your writing along the way.
2. Establish a writing space and time.
Time and space are critical elements in forming a daily writing habit. If you develop the habit of writing in a specific spot at a specific, scheduled time, you associate that spot and that time of day with writing — and vice versa.
Make a point of scheduling a time to write each day, and keep it sacred. If you’re going to write a book, daily writing deserves a place on your schedule.
3. Assemble your writing tools.
You’ll need a reliable computer with a word processing program, at least to create your final draft. The publishing world uses Microsoft Word, so stick with this or a program that allows you to export your work as a Word document.
Other tools might include the following:
- Pens and a notebook
- Sticky notes
- Index cards
- Paper clips
- Highlighter pen/s
- A planner or planning pages (unless you do your planning on your computer)
4. Map out your book idea.
There’s more than one way to do this:
- Sketch out a mind map on a large piece of paper.
- Write notes about each scene or idea on a sticky note and arrange them on a planning wall or whiteboard.
- Fill out an index card for every idea you want to include in your book and rearrange them in an order that makes sense.
However you map out your book, it helps to not only see your project as a whole made up of smaller pieces but also to see how all the scenes and ideas relate to each other and join to form a cohesive whole.
5. Write in smaller chunks.
One of these most useful writing tips and tricks is learning how to chunk down your writing into shorter time segments.
A timer — like this Pomodoro app — is helpful with this. If you write for smaller chunks of time (25 minutes each) and take small breaks (5 minutes) between them, you’ll return to each writing session better-prepared to focus your creative energy on writing for the next 25 minutes.
6. Treat writing like interval training.
If you try to write for an hour at a time every time, not only are your eyes likely to dry out and tire more quickly, you’re also more likely to get distracted by one thing or another, even if it’s just your own thoughts getting in the way.
Do yourself and your writing project a favor and commit to at least a short break between writing sprints to rest your eyes, stretch your legs, drink a glass of water, etc.
7. Summarize your book — and break it into smaller pieces.
It helps to start by summarizing your book. Just write to yourself about what your book is about, who would benefit from reading it (if it’s nonfiction), what problem would it solve, etc.
8. Break your book into smaller pieces.
To make your book project less overwhelming and to help you keep moving from one step to the next, break the whole thing down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
And focus on one piece at a time.
9. Use an app like Evernote to store your ideas.
It helps to have a reservoir of inspiring ideas, and apps like Evernote make it easy to store those ideas when they strike or when you take a few minutes out of your day to brainstorm a list.
Evernote also gives you a place to flesh out and organize your ideas — whether for a book, a blog post, a work of fiction, or something else.
10. Stop each day when the going is good.
If you stop at the end of one chapter, take a moment to plan what you’ll start with for the following chapter. Type a few bullet point ideas to help you get the words flowing when you sit down to write the next day.
Lay the groundwork, so you’ll know exactly where you left off and are excited about what you’ll write next.
11. Get early feedback.
Find someone whose judgment you trust — not only as a person but as a writer and someone who knows about the book market — to appraise your book idea and what you’ve written for it so far.
Consult more than one such person, if you can. Invite them out for coffee (or lunch) and a quick read. Consider it an investment in your book’s success.
12. Set weekly targets.
Deadlines are important. Not only do they motivate you to keep moving toward your goal, but they also give you a target to celebrate once you reach it.
You need both short-term and long-term targets when writing a book. Short-term targets are the ones you set for each day or for each smaller piece of your project.
Long-term targets have more to do with the bigger picture — in regard to your book and to other meaningful goals.
Novel Writing Tips
Fiction writing tips apply to novels, novellas, and short stories. Generally, the longer your story, the more complex it tends to be and the more important it is to get all your story elements sorted.
Apply the following novel tips, then, to give yourself the best chance of finishing your story and making it a bestseller.
13. Sketch it out.
Create at least a rough outline of your story. It doesn’t have to look like the outlines you had to create in school. Simple bulleted lists work fine.
- Write about scenes you want in your story.
- Write what the story is about, who the main character is, and what he/she wants and stands to lose.
- Write about each pivotal character’s arc and what events in the story contribute to each one’s development.
- Write about how your story will end — and whether your main character will get what he or she wants.
- Write about possible opening scenes for your story.
14. Write from a character’s perspective.
Voice journaling is a great way to beat writer’s block by helping you see more clearly what your character wants and why — and what direction the story should take.
Write from any character’s perspective – the protagonist, the antagonist, or a minor character with at least a casual interest in what happens.
15. Single or series?
If your readers enjoy this first book, they’ll want to read the next one, too (if there is one) — which will help you sell more copies the next time around.
On the other hand, if your main character dies at the end, you’re probably not planning on a Book Two. And that’s okay.
If you are writing a series, though, you’ll want your cover to include a reference to the series title — which brings us to the next tip.
16. Get a fantastic book cover.
Having a beautiful cover for your book might just be the best motivation to write it. In any case, it’s visible proof of your commitment to finishing your book.
With fiction, it’s particularly important to have a stunning book cover, and some genres (like fantasy) require more artistry than others. If your book’s cover looks like a DIY project, most of your ideal readers will cringe and move on.
17. Pencil in some procrastination.
Rather than procrastinating during your scheduled writing times, why not just add some procrastination to your weekly book writing schedule?
While you’re taking a break from your novel, your mind is still working on it. And when you return to the book after your scheduled procrastination, you can
incorporate the content your mind has generated during the break.
18. Turn off your inner editor (while writing your first draft).
There’s a time to let the words flow and a time to edit them. Finish your story before you edit it, and you’ll be better able to do both.
Books like this one can help you do a thorough and balanced self-edit when the time comes.
19. Give your story a strong opening.
Stiff competition isn’t the only reason you’ll want to hook your reader right from the beginning of your story. A great opening makes your book instantly memorable and sets it apart from the legions of books with weak beginnings.
A great cover can only do so much to earn your book an honored place on someone’s shelf. Hook them quickly with your words, and then hold on tight.
20. Give your story plenty of conflict.
This is how you hold onto your reader’s attention. Keep them guessing. Keep them on the edge of their seats — wondering, fearing, anticipating. Give them a reason to keep reading.
You don’t do this by describing in minute detail a group of best friends enjoying their wine and chips on the beach while everyone gets along splendidly and all the couples are blissfully in love and never argue.
It’s when the stakes are high that your reader is compelled to wonder “What will happen next?”
21. Think like a reader.
Just as your readers won’t stick around for long stretches of self-indulgent introspection (in agonizing detail), you probably wouldn’t either.
And as picturesque as a beach can be, does anyone really want to read five pages about a piece of driftwood and its origin story?
Sometimes we writers get stuck trying to make our writing more “literary” and profound.
Do what the reader does: focus on the story.
22. Find beta readers who read your genre.
It’s a good idea to find willing beta readers (who love your book idea) before you’ve even finished your book.
Please do not cheat yourself of the opportunity to receive helpful feedback from these gems of the writing universe. Some of these will be writers, too, so you can return the favor when they need beta readers for their books.
23. Commit to a “shipping” date.
Once you have an idea of how many words a day you can realistically commit to writing and roughly how many words your book will have, you’ll have a better idea of how long it will take you to finish the first draft if you’re working consistently toward that goal.
So, set a date and allow yourself to imagine how excited you’ll feel when you’ve reached it.
24. Cut yourself some slack.
Your book is never going to be perfect. No author’s book is. Don’t let unrealistic expectations stop you from publishing or submitting your work.
Join the ranks of the imperfect but published authors. Own your less-than-perfectness and get those words out of you and onto the page. Only then can you make them better.
25. Create a plan for your book launch and marketing.
It’s not too early to think about your book launch and about how you’ll market your book afterward.
What will you do during the launch to get the word out about your book’s promotion? What will you do after launch — every week — to get the eyes of your ideal readers on your book?
Knowing this now can help you lay the foundation for a successful launch and an effective marketing plan.
Tips for Writing a Nonfiction Book
A nonfiction book is different from anything in the fiction universe. But if you’re comfortable writing blog posts, journalistic pieces, or other works of nonfiction, this is in the same neighborhood. It might just take a bit longer to finish.
Read on for the best tips for writing a nonfiction book.
26. Write the book you wish existed before you knew what you know now.
Your big idea should be something that excites you. Write the kind of book you were looking for before you learned what you needed to know along the way. Or write about something that meets a real and significant need in your ideal reader.
Write a book that will make someone’s life better than it is now.
27. Do your research.
You want your book to add value, and you don’t do that by making assumptions based on what you think you know and treating them as facts. Nothing destroys your credibility more quickly than factual errors in your book.
You add value by asking questions, finding the best answers to those questions, and sharing those answers with others who are likely to care.
28. Keep it simple. Keep it clear.
Your readers’ experience should be as enjoyable as possible. You don’t want any of them struggling to understand what you’re trying to say.
To that end, do your best to avoid the following:
- Long, rambling sentences
- Overly long paragraphs
- Stream-of-consciousness writing (with a thousand tangents and no filter)
- Unnecessary jargon
- Unnecessarily ornate language
- Analogies that don’t work
29. Start with something short.
Get experience writing a complete book — finishing, editing, and publishing it — so you can learn from it and make your next book even better.
Amazon’s Kindle Short Reads could be just the place for your new book; Amazon sorts these by their estimated reading time, with the longest not exceeding 100 pages (about two hours of reading time).
If you write short stories, consider submitting one to the Kindle Singles program, which pays 70% royalties for any story accepted by their team of editors.
30. Eliminate filler words and redundancies to tighten your writing.
Once you know what filler words to look out for, you can avoid them even while writing your first draft. Don’t beat yourself up, though, if some slip through the cracks. They’re sneaky.
- Unnecessary adverbs (very, really, mostly, actually, usually, hopefully, etc.)
- And then…
It’s important to note, here, that not all of these filler words deserve the ax. If your editor agrees that a sentence sounds fine the way it is, go with it.
31. Call Yourself a Writer
Writers write. Professional writers write every day.
If you’re writing a book, you’re not an “aspiring writer.” You are a writer. There is no “aspiring.” You are doing it. And by doing it, you are also being it.
So, if anyone asks what you do — for a living, for fun, for the good of humanity, whatever — tell them that, among other things, you are a writer.
Because if you’re showing up and doing the work, that’s what you are. Own it.
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And may your creativity and thoughtfulness influence everything else you do today.