I truly believe that every person has at least one book within them. Do you? If so, you might be wondering how to share your story with the world.
Perhaps you have an account of a memorable trip trudging through the Amazon rainforest with only a backpack. Or maybe your father or mother immigrated to America a generation ago and found success through hard work, giving you opportunities they never had. Or perhaps you wish to chronicle your meteoric rise through your niche industry and wish to share your successes through a how-to book.
Then again, you might just want to let yourself escape into a rollicking adventure yarn set in a far-off galaxy. Write that story and you just might capture the interest of a movie producer.
Whether fact or fiction, if you’re reading this article you probably wish to share your thoughts with readers. You have a story that is begging to be told.
Within the pages of a book.
Now, how do you get the ideas out of your head and onto the page?
Create detailed notes
I recommend that you jot down your initial ideas for your book in a notebook or on your computer. Don’t worry about formatting, grammar, or spelling at this phase. Simply put your thoughts down. Another excellent tool is a transcriber. That way you can just speak your thoughts and they will be recorded for you.
When I’m embarking on a new book project, I always have multiple Word documents open: character biographies (useful for memoirs and novels), incidents for an outline, research topics, etc. If you need help organizing your thoughts, please email me.
If you wish to share your story, I’d suggest jotting down everything you can remember about the places you’ve been, the people you interacted with, and the key events of your life. Close your eyes and see what images you can find, listen for the speech patterns of the people around you, smell the odors, taste the foods, and feel the textures. Write them all down. These details will help bring your memories to life.
If you’re creating a fictional world, let your imagination run free. The more vividly you conceptualize the characters and settings, the clearer your readers will be able to see them. It still helps to create notes, so you don’t lose your ideas.
If you’re working on a sci-fi novel, this is the time to build your world. Create the science, philosophy, and everything your readers will need to understand in order to become immersed in your story.
It’s a good idea to download the notes you’ll need to build your business book. If you’re an expert in a niche market, jot down all the tidbits of information you wish to share. Also, include humorous anecdotes and heart-wrenching stories that will help your readers identify with you and the lessons you wish to teach.
Collect sources for research
Whether you’re writing a how-to book, a memoir, or a novel, if you plan to share your story, you need to do research. Even if you’re an expert on the subject, you’ll need to delve into details. Every writer becomes a researcher! There has never been a book that I could write without doing extensive study.
Today, research is easy through search engines, but sometimes you might need the help of a library. In those cases, you’ll need to take good notes and jot down the names of the books you use, along with the page numbers, so you can find the information again or reference it later.
Take the time to research the locations and time periods of your life story. Make sure you’re remembering everything correctly. For instance, if you visited NYC as a child, you might have dined at Mama Leone’s. But what was the address? Hm… Well, a quick Google search shows that it was on West 44th Street in the early 1990s, but went out of business soon after. Including little details helps bring a story alive.
Research is a fundamental element for fiction writing as well. Your writing must always be authentic. So, if you’re writing about the Australian rainforest, and you’ve never been, you’ll need to read dozens of references to be able to describe the environment accurately. If you have visited the spot, you’ll still need to collect information about the history, vegetation, and wildlife of the area. Your experiences will form the story, but research is invaluable to fill in the gaps.
Even if you’re an expert in an area, you’ll need to find other sources of information on the subject. When I’m forming my outline (or Table of Contents), I find it helpful to copy links into the document under the subsection when I find a particularly helpful resource. Trust me, weeks later, it will be hard to find that source again. Good notes save a lot of time.
Determine your reader and messages
Before you can truly share your story with readers, you must figure out who your reader will be. As I have mentioned a few times in previous blog articles, your readers can’t be “everyone.” It’s too general and vague. Be specific. Your reader might be teenage boys who are interested in soccer or retired women interested in ornithology. You can see how the communication would be much different for these two categories of readers!
Next, you’ll need to hone in on the messages you wish to communicate. Do you want people to learn that hard work and personal integrity can overcome obstacles and lead to success? Or maybe you want to share how patience and loyalty are the basis for long-lasting relationships. Being clear about your message will help you align the action of your story.
Be true to yourself
Most of us speak differently than we write. I’ve noticed that some people can wax formal when they have a pen in their hand! They take out contractions completely and dust off their finest vocabulary in an attempt to impress. The reader doesn’t care about any of that. They are looking for your voice in your writing, not that of your eleventh-grade English teacher. Be yourself.
Take the next step
Now that you have thorough notes and research sources, you are ready to begin carving out your outline. Then you can write your book. Create the time and avoid distractions! For more information on the next steps to take, you will find many articles about writing on my blog. I hope they help!
If you would like the help of a ghostwriter to share your story, please reach out to me (whether it be for a novel, memoir, or how-to book). The research and notes you’ve created will not go to waste. After all, ghostwriters will need good notes to help create your vision. Please contact me if you are interested in going this route.
If you’d like advice on how to hire a ghost, please check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter