So…How Do You Write a Book?
A Column By Rhiannon Frater
My writing career officially started when I posted a zombie story called “Tiny Fingers” on a now-dead forum that caught the attention and imagination of readers in that long ago time of 2005. That story evolved into the As The World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege). Over the next year and a half, I found myself writing as quickly as I could to satisfy my many readers with regular installments. My story about two women facing the zombie apocalypse was one of the most popular serials on the forum. During that time, I learned a lot about the art of writing, the discipline of the craft, and how to interact with actual fans. To satisfy the demand for physical copies of my story by the fandom, I self-published the trilogy in 2008. In 2010 I sold the trilogy to Tor and they reissued the three books starting in 2011.
I’ve been at this writing gig for almost ten years now. The last four years I’ve been a full-time writer. I have continued to self-publish while also being published by traditional publishers. I’m a new breed of writer known as a Hybrid Writer. I’m not an Indie Author, or a Legacy author, but both.
Because I have now entered the ranks of established writers, I receive questions from starting writers all the time. The hardest to answer is the one I’m asked most often.
“How do you write a book?”
The first few times I was asked this question, I was stumped. I remember giving long rambling answers that left the person behind the question looking even more lost then when they asked it. Over time I realized that wrapped within this one query is a myriad of others.
Therefore, I’m deconstructing this common question into many pieces and will discuss exactly how I write my books in this column. Now, I must post a disclaimer since every writer had their own process, but I’ll share what works for me and hopefully will get a few of my writer friends to share their thoughts, too.
When you break down the nefarious ‘how do you write a book’ question, the first thing we should address is why is the person asking the question. There’s an old saying that every person has a least one book in them. This might be true, but very few people actually sit down to write the damn thing. I’ve met so many writers in waiting who are literally…well…waiting. I’m not sure what they’re waiting for, or even why they’re waiting. These hopeful writers are just stuck in one spot talking about a book idea they have, yet haven’t written one single word down. I’ve even had these people offer to tell me their super-awesome idea so I can write it for them.
Trust me. I have enough ideas rampaging through my own head to keep me writing until the Grim Reaper shows up. Then he/she will have to pry my fingers off my keyboard as I try to get one last word written. I don’t need to take someone’s idea. That person needs to put their butt down in front of the writing instrument of their choice and start to write.
I’ve heard so many excuses, but the reality is that writing is a choice you have to make not just once, but every time you sit down with the intention of working on your story. My writing career started when I was traveling for my former day job and bored out of my mind in the evenings stuck in my hotel room. When I was in the office, I wrote on my lunch break and when I got home. Though I write full-time now, I still have to make time in my day to concentrate on my story instead of doing all the other tasks associated with having a writing career.
Frankly, you have to make the conscious choice to write a book, and not just talk about it. Lots of people talk about writing a book. I’m sure you’ve talked to many of these self-proclaimed writers at social gatherings. They go on and on about their future bestseller, but they never write the actual book. When I first announced I was going to concentrate on becoming a full-time writer, more than a few people rolled their eyes. They’d heard it all before. But when I actually wrote novels, self-published them, then later signed with Tor and Permuted Press, they were a bit amazed. More than one person told me they didn’t actually think I’d accomplish what I set out to do.
So…how do you write a book?
You actually write.
In my next column, we’ll discuss where to find inspiration for ideas.
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Find out more information about Rhiannon Frater and her work at www.rhiannonfrater.com.