Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to write a book

For me the first book I wrote came about from a television program I watched on the history channel when I lived in England. I had characters in my head, I knew who they were but didn’t know what their story was—at least not until I caught the tail end of a program on the Sepoy Mutiny. I was so horrified by this moment in history I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I went to sleep that night and Gabrielle my female lead whispered to me and BAM. Suddenly the lights popped on and I had a vehicle for my characters. My book Gabrielle is this story and will be released sometime this year. 

Before this moment of clarity at 3am in the morning—all my good ideas seem to come in the middle of the night while I’m sleeping—I spent my time reading a ton of self help books, going and listening to authors talk, picking up magazines and browsing ideas. I’d basically daydreamed about writing. This was before the age of online writer groups, online critique groups, and websites where you could connect with other writers. People didn’t blog, and they didn’t have Facebook accounts so I was pretty much on my own. I should also preface the fact it was the late 90’s early 2000’s when I finally got down to business. I was also living overseas which is what cut me off from the romance industry here in the states.

So how do you write a book? Well every path is different and there are tons of articles out there that will say what I am and others that state something different. Each book is different so the inspiration will probably be different also. So take heart there are a lot of ways to get from point A to point B. Here is a list of steps I take before I start a project…hopefully you will find this helpful.

Tap your interests. What are you hobbies aside from reading? At the time I wrote Gabrielle I was going to college and finishing my degree in History. Hence the reason why I watched the history channel. I love Paris and took so many trips to that city it was only a matter of time before that inspired. My novella THE TROUBLE WITH FRENCH KISSES actually came to me while I was shopping in Louis Vuitton.

Do minimum research. Okay, I’m a dork, I could sit and do research for a book for days. And not just for historical reads but for my contemporary and paranormal reads. I can dig up the best information and then I’m stuck wanting to know how to include it. Big mistake. So once you have your idea be specific about what you need to include and ONLY research that. This way you won’t be overwhelmed with details.

Read! Watch movies! This is the best way come up with ideas. It’s best to know what the industry is doing. DON’T jump on a bandwagon of popularity though. What is in print today was contracted up to two years ago…make sure you stay on the cutting edge. Don’t decide “hey I’m going to write a Zombie Apocalypse book because that’s what’s hot. Or hey Steampunk is the trend and I’ve got to get a piece of that action!” Although these  subgenre’s  are here to stay make sure the story your heart wants to tell is what you write. Don’t write to trend, write what’s in your heart…make sure you’re cutting edge this is what will make you stand out.

Don’t get caught up in reading “How to books.” They’re great if you’ve never written anything or you want some advice. However reading stacks of them aren’t going to write the book you want to pen. It’s easy to get caught up in the “I’m researching the industry” as a way of avoiding actually sitting down and writing. Read to learn but not to avoid.

Attend writing conferences! This is a great way to network and talk to other authors. For me noting inspires then being around other writers. Shop around during conference season and find a conference that works for you.

Sit down and write. Seems so simple right? Wrong! Noting can be more intimidating then making that cursor move across the screen with words like a rainbow trailing behind it. But ignore that intimidating feeling and type a word, or a sentence. Before you know it…you have a paragraph. And don’t feel that you have to go in order. Write the scenes that come to you even if they’re out of order. You can piece it together like a quilt. This is how I write. You NEVER know what this will inspire.


Kemberlee said...

Excellent article. Didn't know you had a degree in history. How cool is that?!

Kristi Ahlers said...

Thanks, Kem. Yes, I love history and decided to finish the degree while I was living in England. I was able to see so many of the places I'd studied so it made it come alive even more.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Kristi. I'll give you my real comments in an email. Nice to see your page and I checked out your books on Amazon. Wow, you have a lot!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Kristi, I'll email you with my thoughts on your page. Nice to see it and I checked out your books on Amazon. Wow, you have a lot of them.

Kristi Ahlers said...

Thanks so much, Charlene!

Kemberlee said...

I'm sure yoy saw some awesome things while on this side of the pond. I love the ancient history here. We don't have that in CA. CA sunshine makes up for it though. Just about ;-)