Writing Your Book

Writing a book can be (almost) painless. While many people are intimidated by the idea of writing an entire book, you can break the process down into bite-size pieces and make it easier. The three steps here will give you some ideas about how to get your project written, no matter what its length.

Try following this process in order to write your book or booklet:

Ask questions. Taking a little time to plan makes writing easier. By asking these questions and others, you build the framework of your book.

Who is your audience? The more you know about them, the easier it will be to write for them. Who are they, what do they know, what do they want/need to know?

What is the one sentence description of your book? The one sentence description of my book, The Mystery Shopper’s Manual, is that it gives step-by-step instructions and all the information you need to get paid to shop in your favorite stores and eat in your favorite restaurants. Think of this as your book’s “mission statement.”

What questions will your readers want you to answer for them? Write each question down and group the questions in categories. I write each question on an index card, others input them to a computer file or write them in a notebook. My questions for The Mystery Shopper’s Manual included: What is mystery shopping? What kinds of businesses use mystery shoppers? How much does it pay? Who hires mystery shoppers? What qualifications do they look for? Write as many questions as you can think of (you will probably have dozens or even hundreds).

Although this process was designed for non-fiction writers, it is easily adapted to writing fiction, too. The questions you ask in this step will just be a little different. You will still ask: Who is your audience? What is the one sentence description of your book? Also ask questions about your characters. Who are your main characters? What is important to them? What are their goals? How will they change and grow during the story?

Use your questions to develop the framework of your story. Where do your characters start? Where do they end up? How do they get from the start to the end, what happens along the way?

Fill in the blanks. Start building the pieces that will become your book. This is the nuts-and-bolts writing of your book. Answer the questions you’ve raised, one at a time. Working this way, you are not overwhelmed with the magnitude of writing a whole book. Instead, your book is written one chapter, one scene, or one page at a time. When there are questions you can’t answer, or blanks in your knowledge, do the necessary research.

Put it together. Assemble the pieces. Arrange them in a logical sequence, edit and polish.

That’s it–you’ve written a book! And it wasn’t hard at all, was it?

Copyright Cathy Stucker.

Cathy Stucker is the author of several books, including The Mystery Shopper’s Manual.