While you embark on the adventure of writing your book for the first time, you might be searching the internet for a magic formula that will enable you to turn your ideas into a completed book. Truthfully, this doesn’t exist, but I have discovered I always seem to go through four main phases. Perhaps discussing these will help you as you embark upon your adventure.
Phase One: Researching
With nonfiction, research is clearly an integral part of the process. When I ghostwrite a memoir, my client is my main source of information, but I also use the internet for supplementary data. After all, I often need to know more about a culture, time period, or group of people.
When writing fiction, this research can take the form of “world-building,” as you are creating the world for your characters. However, I always find myself looking up facts about various real-world incidents to round out a scene.
Phase Two: Outlining
If you’re starting out as a writer and have never written a book, I strongly urge you to create a detailed outline before you begin.
There are many ways to create an outline. The format doesn’t matter as long as it works for you and gives you the major mileposts you’ll hit when traveling your individual path to your book’s completion.
If you at least sketch out the story first, that outline will save you countless hours and tons of frustration. For me, once the outline is complete the book is written—in my head. Now I just need to put the words on the page.
Phase Three: Writing the first draft
In this phase, your job is to get the material out of your head and onto the page—one way or the other. Work from your outline, start at the beginning, and just write. Then continue to write and write and write.
This isn’t the time to edit.
So many new writers feel embarrassed when they reread their work. Many strive for perfection each step along the way. That’s a mistake. Save editing for the final phase.
Note: if you have trouble moving forward with your book, go back a step and review your outline. Something there probably needs correcting.
Phase Four: Editing
Now that you have your first draft completed, I’d recommend putting the project aside for a bit. How long? Well, that depends on you. The idea is that it should feel fresh to you. I like to give it a few days or even a week.
When you’re ready, read over your manuscript. If you feel you need to make comments, do so in the margins, but don’t cut pages or chapters. Read it as if you were a reader.
Next, you’ll need to read it again and again, looking for any problems with continuity, errors in content, or flow issues, while making sure your transitions are smooth. Once these are the way you’d like them to be, you can focus on grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.
If you can, hire a professional editor to read your manuscript. There is nothing like having outside eyes review your work.
Although writing your book is a time-consuming journey, it’s also highly rewarding. It is my hope that following these four phases of writing a book will make the process a little easier for you.
If you’re interested in hiring a ghostwriter, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to help!
Check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.