How to Write a Book

coffee, cup, laptop, memeIt begins with sitting down. You’re looking at a blank, white space. Empty. Daunting? For me, not so much. I love to fill empty spaces with words, as much as some of my friends like to fill empty air with words. They can’t sit quietly. It’s impossible.

Hello, Thursday morning friends. This week, I’m still processing some of the excellent insight I received at the Mid South Christian Writers conference in Collierville, Tennessee. The conference I almost missed. But that’s another story for another day.

Conferences are like continuing education for the writer. You go, you meet other writers, you hear others’ stories, you’re encouraged to struggle on. Pursue the craft. Keep writing.

writing-1209121_1280If you’re a writer, especially if you’re in the beginning process, I highly recommend a good writers conference. Now, on to the task at hand–

This is how I start: I have an idea. I develop the idea. I hope it works. I hope it’s not another dead end.

Sometimes it begins with a character. I create a character, give that character positive or negative traits, then build their appearance around those traits. Next, I tell their story.

sneakpeekLet’s dissect one of my characters: Amy Julianna Emerson is the daughter of Robert and Nancy Emerson in “Amelia’s Legacy,” book one of the Legacy Series. She’ll make her debut in book three, “Rebecca’s Legacy” (releasing later this summer). She’s named after her maternal great grandmother, Amelia, and her paternal grandmother, Julianna, but her disposition and character are all her own.

Physical traits: Her eyes are a stunning sapphire blue, her hair the color of chestnuts. She’s five-foot-five, and slender. She loves to wear sundresses, hats, and sunglasses. And other outfits her father disapproves, like “rompers” (it’s the late 1940s).

Amy is a beauty, and much like her mother before her, she desires freedom, and intends to achieve that goal. But her road is temporarily blocked, both by her own past mistakes, and by the evil intent of others. She tries to work around these roadblocks, with little success.

So, I’ve developed a character and given her specific traits. Now, I begin to write and let her character develop. Her story begins to unfurl. The words flow. Sometimes. I enjoy the journey when the words flow. Other times, it’s just hard work.

writer-1421099_1280Writing begins with sitting down. Open a brand new file on the computer, insert a sheet of bright, white paper in a typewriter, or pick up a pen. Whether we’re working with pen and ink, a typewriter, or a computer, the challenge is the same: tell the story.

My next challenge is to create a character arc. Changes happen. Lives progress from beginning to end. I hope Amy will grow, learn, and become a better person. I hope she’ll touch lives and inspire my readers.

Writing is my calling. It’s my way to speak to others around me, to challenge and inspire. To leave them with a message of hope. Dare them to believe. I hope to leave my own legacy—belief in the gift of God’s grace. For Amelia, Carlotta, and now, Rebecca—their Legacy is Love.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [1 John 4:11]

[Click to Tweet] For the writer, whether we’re working with pen and ink, a typewriter, or a computer, the challenge is the same: tell the story.

Another regional conference:

Kentucky Christian Writers Conference – June 21 -23, 2018

AmWriting AmReading

pc-1207686_1280When I’m not writing, I’m reading about writing, or doing research for writing. One thing I’ve learned so far, writers never stop learning. If you stop studying and researching, your writing can become stale and boring. Like old crackers.

Part of the growth process for a writer is reading fresh, new fiction. I’ve done a little of that in the past couple of months by helping to judge writers’ contests. I’ve read some absolutely wonderful chapters by talented writers that make me downright jealous. But that’s not a good reaction unless it spurs me to push forward to write crisper, more entertaining fiction.

IMG_9611One thing writers don’t really want to mess with is their unique voice. But you can write different types of stories in new genres, and explore different angles of the art. I’m anxious to do that, to learn how to craft a better story. Because stale crackers are only good for meatloaf or feeding to the squirrels.

Writers–When you started your first novel, how did you go about it? Did you just sit down and write, or did you outline it or plot it first? I’d love to hear your stories! First novels are a little like first babies or first jobs or even first love. We have sweet memories we like to share.

My first novel — I sat down and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wish I could do that now! Oh the freedom of fingers flying over keys, not worrying about content, just slugging it out there.

So that first novel–have you published it? Or is it squirreled away like a couple of mine?

books-927394_1280How do you learn more about writing?

  • Take a course
  • Attend a conference
  • Read/study a writing book or course (on your own)
  • All of the above

If you could attend a course taught by the best of the best in writing–who would that be?

I’m asking these questions because I’m curious, but also–I’m writing a post and could use the input. So, if you have a moment, please leave me a comment below. Thanks so much!

Right now, I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot, hammering out this post–it’s late again! I’m at my dining room table, occasionally looking out the window at pouring rain and beautiful buttercups in bloom. So, my final question is: Where do you write? Do you have an office, or do you–like me–move around with a laptop?

window-1287611_1280Wherever you write, however you write, I hope your writing is successful. But most of all, I hope your writing fulfills you, because doing what you love is the greatest kind of blessing.