How to Right a Book in Nine (Not So) Easy Steps

165,000 people search “how to right a book” every month.

(NOTE: Step one to write a book, get a good critique group who will catch those spelling errors).

Seriously though, wouldn’t it be great to write a book? To see your name on that glossy cover, flip the pages filled with words you’ve written, to be able to tell your friends, “I’m an author.”

How do you write a book?

How to Right a Book

Photo by Jeremy Shultz

9 Steps to Right a Book

The hard truth is that while there are certainly many joys of writing, it can also be an incredibly boring, frustrating, and even embarrassing process. I regularly think while writing, “How could I be this stupid? How could writing a single paragraph be this hard?”

And yet, if you’re like me, hearing that writing a book will be a long, difficult journey won’t stop you from wanting to write one.

Thus, here are nine (tongue-half-in-cheek) steps to writing a book:

1. Start!

As Mary Poppins says, “Well begun is half done.”

If you want to write a book, write the first chapter. See if you can do it in one day. It may not be perfect, and you may not keep any of it in your final draft, but you will have begun.

2. Figure out what your book is about?

I don’t mean, “My book is about a teenage girl trying to survive high school.” I’m talking about an overarching theme, something that ties the book together and makes it worth reading.

For example:

  • When Harry Met Sally, by the wonderful (and recently passed) Nora Ephron, the theme is love and friendship. Can men and women ever be friends?
  • Finding Nemo is about taking risk for the sake of relationship. Is the world really safe?
  • The series, Game of Thrones, is about power, and the things both men and women will do to get it.

At some point in your writing process, whether you’re writing a novel, a memoir, or a non-fiction book, you’ll need to figure out what your book is about, and why would other people want to read it.

Once you figure out your theme, focus your novel on it maliciously, cutting anything that doesn’t have to do with it.

3. Read books similar to yours.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write,” says Stephen King.

Reading titles similar to yours is the best thing you can do to write a good book. Go to your local library, your favorite bookstore, or hit up Amazon.com and get five books similar to yours. When you’re not writing, turn off the TV and read. Your future readers will thank you for it.

4. Suffer.

Writing a book requires an ability to endure suffering. At some point in every writing project, I have a breakdown. I no longer want to write the book. I no longer want to write at allForeverI say, “I never want to feel this stupid again, so I quit.”

After having this experience five or six times, I realized “the breakdown” always comes right before a breakthrough. In fact, breakdowns are a sign you’re almost finished. Push through the suffering and keep writing. You’ll have a finished book soon.

5. Get up at 5 am or write till 2 am.

My first book took 550 hours to write. Yours might take longer. If you don’t schedule time into your day to write, your book won’t get written.

Many writers find that the best times for them to write are either early in the morning or late at night, but honestly, it matters less when you write and more that you write every day. If you have a day job and are only able to write two hours a day, it will take 275 days to get to 550 hours. When that alarm goes off at five am, just think of how good it will feel to have your finished book in your hands.

6. Get to know other writers.

One of the best ways to motivate yourself through the hard parts of writing a book is the support of other writers who have done it too. If you don’t have any friends who have written a book, reach out to a local writers group or subscribe to blogs like The Write Practice and get to know the community.

(I’m biased, but I think we’re awesome.)

7. Celebrate your first draft.

When you finish your first draft, throw yourself a party. Go out to your favorite restaurant with a group of your closest friends. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

But DON’T show it to anyone!

First drafts are almost always awful, worthless pieces of writing. To save yourself the embarrassment of typos and misspellings like the one in the title of this post, you have a lot of work to do.

8. Work on drafts two and three.

There’s a writer’s proverb that says, “All good writing is rewriting.”  It’s completely true.

Most professional writers write three drafts of their books, if not more. Here’s a good resource on how to know when your book is finished.

9. After you finish your book, start the next one.

The unfortunate truth is most first books aren’t published, and even if yours is, it’s unlikely you’ll make enough to make a full-time living from it. If you want a career as a writer, you’ll have to write several more.

Fortunately, writing books is addictive. Don’t stop. The very next day after you finish your first book, start on the second one.

Writing A Book Is Practice

The best writers practice, whether they’re international bestsellers or just getting started. Practice is hard. It’s stretching. You feel sore after you practice. And yet it’s the only way to get better.

The best writers, the best humans, are never finished practicing. They are always pressing into discomfort. They’re always trying to perform better than the last time.

Become the kind of person who endures discomfort for the sake of growth. If you don’t, you will have a very difficult time writing a book.

Other resources for writing a book:

Do you want to write a book? What tips do you have, or which of the tips above stick out to you most?

PRACTICE

As we talked about above, “Well begun is half done.” If you want to write a book, start today. Or, if you’re in the middle of writing your book, spend some time working on it now.

Write your book for at least fifteen minutes. Then, post a paragraph or two in the comments section below to encourage the community. And if you post, be sure to comment on a few practices by other writers.

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

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  • Puja

    Aquiles Serdan was not a man. He was once, before he became a place.
    Before the government killed him and basically set off the Revolution. I guess that made him the first man to die for “the cause.” Since he was dead, the only thing for it was to make Aquiles Serdan a martyr and name a few pueblos after
    him. Including my own.

    Papá, on the other hand, was the one real man I ever knew, even
    though I only knew him through phone calls and between the months of November
    and March. Those days, he was in the fields of Aquiles Serdan.

    The earth, rich and loamy and hungry for seeds, came up as
    high as his ankles when he tended Don Hector’s land. He sunk into it, reaching down into the strawberry plants’ tangled roots and smoothing calloused fingers along the ripening fruit. In the wheat fields, the golden shoots peaked out of the
    furrows like shy children as he watered them. He’d walk from plot from plot, here pale soy, there green corn stalks.The cattle in their wide-open corral, snorting and sifting the red dirt with their hooves.

    “This,” Papá told me once, “is where I want to die, Tonio.”

    He may be a hired hand, but the land was his all the same.

    • Maure

      This is beautiful, beautiful writing. I get an incredibly sense of place from it.

    • Jay Warner

      Stunning. Visually interesting and makes me want to read more. Your writing puts me in mind of the likes of Rudolfo Anaya and similar authors.

    • Jeff Ellis

      I really love the introduction to this, I hope there is more :)

    • Tiersa Danielle

      Lovely writing. You spin your words w/such ease.

    • catherineceltic

      Beautifully written, makes me want to write my book.

  • http://www.facebook.com/madeline.t.sharples Madeline Tasky Sharples

    Hi, Joe,
    I love your posts. Is there any way you’d allow me to reblog them once in a while on my blog – with full credit to you, of course? Thanks, Madeline http://madeline40.blogspot.com

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Madeline. Sure. As long as you link back, I would love it if you shared them with your audience. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/theauthorrwfoster R.w. Foster

    This might be part of a collection of short stories one day:

    The tears in my beloved’s eyes was enough to get me heated. The people seated across from her were already on my shit list. They may have produced her, and watched her grow up, but as far as I was concerned, that didn’t make them her parents. Parents are supposed to protect and care for their offspring. I bit down on my ire and vowed to get answers first.
    “Hey, my love. What’s going on? Why’re you crying?”
    “Nothing, Stan. I’m okay.”
    “Little One, please don’t lie to me.”
    Her mother spoke up. “It’s not your business, but we where asking why we can’t see our grand children. Stay out of it.”
    My head whipped around so quick, my neck crackled. “Stay out? I don’t think so.” I felt Ann’s hand on my wrist. I glanced down to her.
    “Please, Stan. This is under control.”
    I sighed, then sat beside her. Ann wrapped my right arm in both of hers, and twined her fingers with mine. She kissed my cheek, and glanced at her parents.”As long as Steven is in your house, my kids will not be.”
    “You have no right to keep our grandkids from us,” her mother said, “Nor from their father. We’ve done nothing wrong.”
    I started to sit up with a growl, but Ann’s grip on my arm tightened a bit. I subsided and waited for her lead.
    “You did nothing wrong? What about letting Steven yell and scream at me for over 10 years, or constantly blame me for everything that went wrong? What about staying silent when I came to your house with a bruise on my face?”
    “You made him mad, Ann. Had you not been so selfish, and self-centered all the time, you wouldn’t have deser-”
    I shook Ann’s arms off me and lunged to my feet. I dropped my clenched fists to the table, causing it to jump, and glasses of tea to spill. “Are you fucking kidding me? How dare you blame her for that piece of shit’s treatment of her?”
    Ann tugged on my shoulder. I turned, reluctantly. She cupped my cheek. I turned my face into her palm and kissed her hand. “Look at me, Stan.” I met her eyes. “I got this.” I growled in the back of my throat. “You trust me, right?”
    “Dirty fighter.” She smiled, and waited. “Of course I do.”
    “Thank you.” She turned to her mom. “I did not deserve anything Steven did, nor said. I deserved to be treated with love, honor, respect and dignity. Stan always tells me I am a good person. It took me five years to believe. If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably still be in that hell. Stan is a real man. Maybe one day, Steven will grow up. Until then, he doesn’t get to see my girls. As long as he lives with you, the only way you can is if you come for a visit. Please go now.”
    Her mother opened her mouth. I glared at her balefully. She rose and walked to the door. “C’mon, Murphy. We’re not welcome here.” Murphy rose to his feet, eyes wet. He seemed about to speak. “Let’s go, Murphy!”
    Ann’s parents left without another word.

    • Jay Warner

      good command of dialogue, I can picture each person as they are speaking.

      • http://www.facebook.com/theauthorrwfoster R.w. Foster

        Thanks! I wasn’t sure if I wrote it very well. It’s a very rough draft.

  • http://twitter.com/TheWordist The Wordist

    Nice Article, Erroneous Statistics (But a great attention grabbing headline – It worked on me!)

    “165,000 people search ‘how to right a book’ every month.” This statistic is reached using Google Keyword Tool search using the default broad match settings – to get a truer reflection of number of searches use [exact match] (keyword or phrase surrounded by square brackets) this will only show results for the phrase exactly as typed – which suggests 260 searches for this phrase per month, still quite alarming, but not quite as frightening as the prospect of 165,000! Either way, I just hope those people making that search aren’t planning on self publishing the results!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Interesting. I still get 165,000 when I use both [how to right a book] and “how to write a book.” Perhaps I’m doing something wrong?

  • Maure

    (Extract from scene I was writing earlier in ‘The Princess Wish’)

    Not speaking — she didn’t want to spook the birds with unnecessary sound — she fished in her mostly-empty pouch and brought out the few crumbs and scraps she’d stashed there during dinner. She’d thought she might feed it to the dogs, but as it was the night-gull’s diet was almost the same.

    The bird cocked its head, looking at her gloved hand — she was taking precautions — and the bits of food cupped in her palm, then hopped a little closer on its perch. It was quite lovely, with a blued sheen to its gray and black feathers, and Thora couldn’t help smiling as it began to eat from her hand. She could hear the soft footsteps approaching behind her, but ignored them.

    Adel’s hand landed lightly on her shoulder; gentle enough to be the touch of a friend, remaining firmly enough to be a threat.

    “You have a beautiful bird,” Thora said softly, not looking at him. “Was he hard to raise?”

    “She,” Adel corrected her, his voice equally quiet. With his other hand he reached past her, touched the bird’s proud head with his fingertips; his chest pressed lightly against Thora’s back. “She thought I was her parent. She was not hard to raise; the training was the difficult part. She kept fetching me fish-heads and scraps from garbage-pits instead of animals; I had to teach her to hunt, take her out with the hounds and have her learn their ways. She does not make mistakes now.”

    Thora let her hand fall as the bird finished eating, began pulling the glove from her hand. “What’s her name?”

    “Meza. Nair likes going down to the docks sometimes and speaking with the merchants, and he tells me that Meza is a Socaman huntress goddess. I liked the sound of it.”

    Thora slipped out from under his arms, turned to face him as she tucked the leather glove back into her belt. He caressed Meza’s neck gently, then turned to face her as well, leaning back with his hands on the perch. His arm almost touched the bird; Meza seemed to take it as a hint and clambered onto his arm and up to his shoulder. Thora noted that the embroidered sleeve of his shirt tore under her claws, but Adel barely flinched and did not protest at all. She smiled slightly; it was good for a man to value animals above fine clothing.

    • Puja

      Very interesting, well-written scene. You build the tension well.

    • Jay Warner

      I’d like to read more. I’m interested in the relationship between Adel and Thora and how the bird factors in their relationship.

    • Tiersa Danielle

      good stuff – i want more

  • http://www.ipaintiwrite.com/ Pamela Hodges

    Thank you for solid advice Joe. I will go and right my book now. :)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Do it.

  • Callum Hulme

    I’ve recently written a short story, something I’m looking to continue with in future, and posted it on my blog. Here’s the opening few lines – I hope you enjoy it. Anyone with a blog or google blogger, feel free to add me so we can talk about writing and give eachother feedback and ideas in future! anyway, here it is…

    The heat seemed to flow like a wave over the yellow hills
    on the horizon – the underbrush, grass and trees swayed in harmony with one
    another, basking in the glow of the Sun. The way that
    the gnarled vines had entwined themselves with the blackened trunks and spindly
    branches of the trees hinted that not only the animals climbed out of the pits
    and into the shade.

    A low hum could be heard across the plains; the delicate,
    silvery wings of insects beat against the thick, warm air as they landed lazily
    on anything that would hopefully carry them to their destination, and yet, in a
    small thatched-hut community on the coast, they came and went relatively
    unnoticed.

    The skin on the forearm had cracked, and a long, silvery
    thread, seemingly with a mind of its own, had broken through earlier that day.

    ‘Parasite,’ Zuberi had said to me, wiping his brow, as we
    sat examining the situation. ‘We need to pull it out.’

    A tear rolled down the cheek of the parasite’s victim – a
    young boy, no older than eight – as we took a pair of sterilised tweezers to
    the worm and tugged.

    It didn’t take much effort. It writhed and wiggled and
    fought against the force, and once I pulled it free I held it between the
    tweezers in front of the boy.

    His expression turned to one of playful disgust as he
    swooped in for a closer examination. The worm twisted and coiled before him,
    and he let out a slight laugh, the pain and fear nothing more than a memory.

    • Jay Warner

      Love the description of the landscape and how you hone in on the arm and insect. You make an ugly thing such as a worm seem beautiful and fascinating and horrid at the same time. Love it!

  • http://twitter.com/SHauzelSailo S. Hauzel Sailo

    Great and encouraging post. I love it.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Glad it helped. :)

  • Jagoda

    Great post–encouraging and helpful.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Jagoda.

  • J Keith

    Great post – I have to admit I’ve done most of these but not all!

  • Henk

    Can’t agree enough with “write every day”. Working as a journalist I found the writing gets easier every day because you’re writing every day. Suppose it’s the same as everything else, the more you do it, the better you get.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Yep. I’ve found the same, Henk. Thanks. :)

  • Jay Warner

    This is the opening of a book I am working on. The working title is “The Venus of Morgantina”. Comments and critiques welcome, this is 15 min. writing on the first draft.

    The Venus of Morgantina
    Shadows cast across the ancient ruins where a small group of men gathered around a hastily dug hole resembling a grave site. And indeed it was a grave. They paused – waiting to see what Turi would want them to do. Without a word he gestured, and they responded. The men could hardly contain their excitement as the pale, lovely face looked up at them in placid and forgiving, stony silence.
    Gently they brushed the dirt from her arms, her shoulders, her breasts, her oval delicate face, and lifted her into the white moonlit night. All around, the Sicilian hills stood watch as the men tossed aside their shovels. Nearby the horses snorted and stamped their feet, yoked to the old wooden cart.

    A cloud crossed in front of the moon and broke the spell. Galvanized into motion, Turi and the others raised up the girl to her full height and carried her out of the pit to a point near the edge of the excavation. A pause, an awful cry – and lifting her up as high as they could – the lovely maiden was thrown onto the rocks where her spine was smashed and her body split into pieces. Yet she was not alive, felt no pain, lay broken, with the serene face of an angel staring up at Turi. Her lips, terse and full, stayed pinched together and did not open. Her eyes met his and she captured his soul with her own lifeless gaze. He knew he would not soon forget her.

    Since nightfall several hours ago they had been digging the carefully marked depression in the island’s clay dirt, where they knew the girl lay beneath the soil waiting to be rescued. Five men with lean sinewy arms, the blades of their shovels biting into the earth over and over to reveal her body buried so long ago. Her arms and face were pale, white marble, her flowing robe of limestone stained pink. When they finally uncovered her, head to toe, she was over seven feet tall. “A goddess,” Turi whispered and the men nodded their heads in agreement. In all their years of robbing graves and plundering archaeological sites such as this one, none had seen a statue as breathtaking as the goddess before them. Turi was a good man, he paid them well. And it was at his direction that they smashed her into thirty pieces so they could hide her body to take it out under cover of darkness.

    It seemed a shame, though, to take her from her grave where she likely had laid buried since the 5th century BC, where she was uncovered, unscathed, with only the knuckles on one hand smashed, the rest of her amazingly intact and beautiful. With great care they cleared the dirt from her, because her value would be in the details of the face, the body, her draped breasts and the flow of her gown, her outstretched foot as though she were gliding through a forest on some purposeful journey. So when they lifted her up and broke her on the rocks, they had intended only a few pieces but instead she was in thirty pieces, scattered across the rocky hill side. The men gathered up the pieces, looking around them for anyone who might see, but it was dark, which made finding the pieces more difficult. The night was quiet except for their feet scrambling and their hands groping to find every trace of the goddess they could discover and toss into the cart. At last they had combed the ground so well that even rocks that weren’t part of the statue had ended up in the cart, tossed, carefully placed, and looking around in the scant moonlight, the men put their shovels on top of the goddess and scrambled into the cart, watching their feet. Turi was last into the cart, Vincente was on the flat board of the driver’s seat and he pulled on the reins, as the horses , restless and eager to move, gratefully picked their way through rocks and sparse grass and down the slope away from the excavation. Louis Pappalardo Paolo Orsi was surely rolling in his grave to see them taking away his bride, his Venus.

    The horses made their way out of Morgantina and stopped near the small town of Aidone at a farm along the road. The farmer and his son were waiting near the entrance to his property . They had a wagon full of carrots waiting. Turi nodded to them as he leaped from the cart. Ambrogio and the other grave robbers also climbed out and began shoveling the carrots over the goddess. Load after load of orange root with deep green tops came tumbling over her, covering her, giving her back her earthy smell until she was completely buried beneath them. The carrots were heaped in a mound, the wagon creaked and bowed. The cart looked like a load of carrots but at the bottom their treasure lay, more precious than gold. The farmer and his son smiled widely when Turi took a big wad of bills out of his pants pocket and handed them to the farmer. “Thank you, my friend,” his Sicilian thick and distinct. His voice deep and resonating honesty even as he practiced deceit. The farmer tipped his hat and grinned. He gripped his small son by the shoulder and they turned toward the farm house, taking the lead of the horse and walking him back down the road. He had a long day of digging carrots and then waiting for many more hours for Turi to arrive. This was the night of the kidnapping and half the hillside knew it. The other half slept on in darkness, including those who had started the digging in the first place.

    Blame Flavia if you will. Flavia Zisa was digging up the Roman House, a feat that Orsi had started in 1884. Then in 1912 he discovered the Roman House and it was from this site that the goddess had come. Orsi, and Zisa could be blamed for the pots, the figurines, the statues, the cookware, the fetishes, the graves, the artifacts of a thousand generations ago that lingered abandoned under dirt so heavy and so old it defied excavation. Could anyone blame Turi for wanting to see what might be found? Not all treasures belonged in museums, after all. There were collectors around the world who would love to have a piece of Sicily from Morgantina, site of an ancient Greek Colony in a location nicknamed Roman House. What collector would not want to have a pot that he could possess, caress, treasure, gloat over, that it was one of a kind and it was his? It was a mere inconvenience to have to pay someone such as Turi to dig it out and spirit it away in the night because the archaeologist and the scientists might want to put it somewhere else. And who was to say that Turi’s treasures might not end up in a museum, after all? This was in the day when museums were not so careful about where they got their treasures from. A treasure is a treasure. Provenience was sometimes an inconvenience. Turi expected to become a very rich man as a result of his purloined statue, but he didn’t know how the goddess he had stolen would in turn capture his heart, and over time he would find himself unable to let her go. But that was far from his mind at the moment. His only goal was to get her safely out of Sicily and on a boat to another country.

    ******************
    “I can’t decide between the Etruscan vase or the Greek bowl,” Annmarie purred, running a long, blood red nail across the list in front of her. Demetri sat in an overstuffed chair across from her, his long legs askew as he slumped unceremoniously.

    “Honestly, Annmarie, do you need another vase or another bowl? The museum is full of them.” He watched her with half glazed eyes, wishing she would call it a night so he could go home. But Annmarie seemed unusually energized and didn’t look like she was ready to go home anytime soon.

    She waggled her carefully coiffed silver hair, lacquered as completely as some of the artifacts she oversaw in her southern California museum, a gleaming modern structure of steel and glass high on the hill, as modern as its contents were ancient. She could care less about the artifacts, it was the foundation she was attracted to. The heaps of money the museum drew, the fundraising dinners, rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, wearing fancy gowns and jewels around her neck and wrists. The museum brought her money and fame and adulation. She loved her museum.

    Buying things for her museum was a lot like shopping. But sometimes , in order to get the really good stuff, the stuff that would wow her patrons and benefactors, and gave her thrills that went down to the very bone, she had to sometimes stray outside the normal modes of acquisition. Pesky rules. And even more pesky, the Board of Directors. Always poking their noses into what she was buying, where it went, when it was on display. Honestly they ought to know that she knew her job by now and they shouldn’t be so tightfisted with the foundation’s money. It wasn’t theirs after all.

    Demetri was her right hand man, her confidante, her man of the hour. He would follow here anywhere, do anything for her, and now she was about to ask him to do one of the most courageous things of all. She was going to ask him to help her obtain a statue from Italy, a statue so old and so big and so important that it would be the showcase of her Roman collection. Her contact in London had just wired her today to let her know of its availability. A statue befitting a queen, and Annmarie Davanzati wanted it.

    “I want you to take a trip for me,” said, sitting on the arm of the chair and stroking Demetri’s arm. He looked at her with tired eyes. “A trip to Italy”. she leaned over and whispered in his ear. “All expenses paid.”

    He perked up.

    “A fact finding trip mind you. I want you to look, assess, and get a price. That’s all. I’ll handle the Board.”

    “Rob is not going to like this,” Demetri said, but his smile betrayed him. He was already thinking linguini, tomato sauce, clams, and delicate baby artichoke hearts. He was thinking fine dining on the museum’s dime, with Annmarie’s blessing. And a chance to get away from her.

  • Jeff Ellis

    Here is a snippet from my current work about a boy and his father returning to their fantastical dimension located on the twelfth floor of an old hotel in North Carolina:

    The door to the apartment building swung open and banged against the wall. Alfred grimaced, resting a gentle hand on the door to keep it from snapping shut. He was a tall man by any standard, and thin. Women admired his vibrant blue eyes and men envied his full mustache and thick head of hair, peppered though it was with a gentle gray. He wore a svelte black suit and tie that spoke of money uncommon in his neighborhood. In one hand he held a large leather suitcase, which he hefted over his head as he walked down the stairs to the street.

    After Alfred came his son, Bartleby, who was pouting and streaked with dried tears. He was nearing eleven years old and his brown hair was the expected mess of someone too young to worry about appearances. The yellow “X” in the center of his blue pullover hoodie was the symbol of the X-Men, his heroes, and it could be found on his backpack and his shoes and anything else he could pin it on. He glared at the back of his father’s head from where he stood at the top of the stairs.

    “Come on,” Alfred said, lifting the large leather case onto the top of the Ford.

    Bartleby sat defiantly on the steps. “I’m not going.”

    Alfred opened the tiny door of the sedan and leaned inside. He stepped out holding a length of rope, which he used to secure the case to the top of the car. “Yes, you are,” Alfred said, turning around to face his son.

    “I just made friends! We can’t move now!” Bartleby said.

    “All you ever used to talk about was how badly you wanted to see the Twelfth Floor. You begged me to take you-”

    “And you never did!” Bartleby stood up, fists clenched. “Y-you never did and so I learned to make do here and now that I finally have, you’re taking me away from everything!”

    Alfred sighed, pinching between his eyes. “Yes. I am. Now get in the car,” he said, holding the car door open and pointing inside.

    Tears shined in Bartleby’s eyes. His father’s idea of understanding Bartleby was knowing his son’s favorite color, his favorite animal, and making up for long work days with suffocating weekend excursions. And now that Bartleby had made friends who understood him and protected him from the bullying and the teasing, his father was shipping the family off to a home that Bartleby had never known. He had been a mutant at P.S. 118 and he would be a mutant on the Twelfth Floor.

    “We’re moving,” Alfred affirmed. “Everything is packed and you’re getting in this car if I have to wrangle you in there myself.”

    “Then do it! Because I’m not-”

    Alfred took a single step up the stairs and Bartleby cringed. The reaction gave Alfred pause. He looked at his son as if for the first time since his wife died. Small and frightened in a giant world that only ever told him what to do and never how to do it; virtually alone for all the time Alfred spent at home. Alfred traced his mustaches with thumb and forefinger, stretching his jaw and looking at the ground. “Bartleby, please get in the car…” he said.

    “I don’t want to leave…” Bartleby said, tears running down already tear-stained cheeks.

    Alfred climbed a few more stairs to stand eye-to-eye with his son. “I know that this isn’t fair, but the Council has summoned me back…”

    “So let me stay here! I can live with Mr. and Mrs. Kretz. They’re nice!” Bartleby pleaded.

    It was the sort of simplistic rationality of a child and it twisted Alfred’s heart. He laughed a sad laugh and took a seat beside his son, pulling the boy down into a hug. “It’s not that easy…” Alfred said. “Mr. and Mrs. Kretz have their own kids to take care of and…I’d like to think that you would miss me when I was gone.”

    “You’re always gone…” Bartleby said into his father’s shoulder.

    His son was right and Alfred knew it. Long hours at the embassy. Long hours at the bar… It wasn’t fair. Nothing about these past three years had been fair, especially for Bartleby, but that was going to change. “I know…” was all that Alfred said.

    “Please don’t make me go…” Bartleby whispered through tiny sobs.Alfred picked his son up into his arms and carried him down the stairs to the car. Bartleby twisted in his father’s arms, screaming. No one paid them any attention as Alfred wrestled his son into the car, fighting back tears.

    • Jay Warner

      I really enjoyed reading this, it promises to be very intense and I hope to be able to read more. Thank you for sharing.

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thanks Jay, I’m glad you like it. I’m in the process of moving up to Seattle at last and I am hoping to settle into a more dedicated writing schedule once I’m out of the parents’ house.

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    Joe! Thank you! Thank you for writing posts like this one, and for sharing your knowledge and experience. I am on my third-ish draft and coming out on the other side of the breakdown phase! I have hope I really will complete this book in the near future. The Write Practice has had a huge impact on my writing journey. Thank you Joe, and Write practice community!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      You can do it! You’re SO close, Beck.

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    I like it, Joe. :)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Aw shucks. Thanks Jeff.

  • http://www.tanyamarlow.com/ Tanya Marlow

    This was so helpful! The thing I am learning about editing is that second and third drafts always help, even when I think I’ve got nowhere else to go with the piece. I think the thing I need to get in my head is just how much time these things take. Blogging is so much more immediate, the longer projects are harder to do.

    The thing that stood out to me on this that I need to do is make time to read, not just to write. This was all really helpful. Thank you!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Yep. Long creative pieces take a lot of time. Glad you found this helpful. Thanks, Tanya. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Sarah_somewhere Sarah Somewhere

    Thank you!!!!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      You’re welcome!!!!

  • themagicviolinist

    We are awesome. ;)

    I’d add: ENJOY your book. ENJOY writing it. Who are you really doing this for, anyway? Certainly not for anyone else. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re doing this because you enjoy it.

    Awesome post (as usual)! :D

  • http://pickadirectionandgo.blogspot.com/ mickholt

    Gwen had been
    walking alone for what seemed like days. She could not remember when she had
    last slept. Yesterday? The day before, perhaps? She had no idea. She knew
    better than to make the journey alone. The elders had warned her. Sage had even told her not to enter the wood alone. “Too dangerous with a group, deadly
    alone” he said, his voice a bit more serious than usual. She’d ignored him, of
    course. After all, it was the fastest way to the clearing and that is
    what she’d seen in her dream. She could not ask anyone to go with her. This
    quest was meant for her and no one else. To ask for help would not have been
    right. She had been alone in the dream. She was meant to do this on her
    own.

    Gwen’s rations were low, she dared not eat. Surly she’d happen upon a fruit tree soon. She remembered them being every ten feet or so. She had been in the wood before. They all had. Sage had brought them, in small groups, as part of
    the training. There were always some elders along for added protection. Not
    that Sage could not handle anything that might crop up. But extra help was
    never refused. She noticed a flash of red. There, just ahead. Must be the next
    tree. To the left. Further in. It was just there. No, there. Now…wait,
    where? “Ugh!”

    Slowly she began to realize she was not as near the clearing as she should be by now. In fact, she was in a darker part of the wood than she’d ever been. She looked down, carefully taking her next step. She used the tress to steady herself. She felt as though the trees were moving in
    towards her, surrounding her. She began to walk faster. The dead grass and
    sticks beneath her feet crying out as she hurried. CRACK! She fell over a large
    branch. How had she missed that? She reached up to check the stone. Still
    around her neck.

    She could no longer see the sky. Not even a flicker of the stars that only moments ago were guiding her. Now she knew she was lost. Alone. The wind blew, soft at
    first and then is a rush. Had it just whispered to her? No, of course not.
    Again, the voice, she was sure. She took a quick look around. Still by herself.
    No one else was there. Had she hit her head when she fell? A quick check did
    not reveal any blood, not injured. She was fine. Or was she. She heard it
    again. Strange. Sympathetic.

    A voice she had heard a thousand times. Friendly. Frightening.

    She was no longer alone.

    “Would it not be best,” he paused, “for me to hold it for you, for just a few minutes?” He asked.

    “Is it not quite heavy?” He continued.

    She took a deep breath.

    “You look so tired.”

    Her head began to swim. The air smelled different. Familiar. Sweet. Cool. Bitter.

    She walked on.Thoughts of the Garden played with her imagination. Would it be as beautiful as she dreamt?

    But now, it began to make sense. Why shouldn’t she give the stone to him? It
    was starting to feel heavy. Wasn’t it.

    She was, in fact, getting tired. She had been traveling for several hours with no rest. Besides, she would only let him have it for a few minutes anyway.

    Until her strength returned.

    It would never be more than an arm’s length away. Certainly she could trust him.

    What did she have to lose?

    Her Soul.

  • Saunved Mutalik

    You got me in that typo part! Never realized that the title of the post was misspelled! The mind does trick you quite badly sometimes!
    Anyway…I’ll right everything that comes to my mind (of course when my muse says “yessssss” to it! ;-)

  • http://beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com/ R.w. Foster

    Was lead here from another, more recent, post. To answer the title, it’s easy to right a book: Just tilt it a bit to the left. Easy-peasy.

  • Sophie Leigh

    Sawyer Harlem had never been one to take risks. He and
    his sister were alike in that matter. He supposed that was why neither one of
    them were considered very remarkable. It could be argued that there was risk
    when they had moved across the country when he was eight and she was five, but
    since it was through no decision of their own, it hardly counted.

    He very well knew why he and his sister were both very alien to the act of
    risk-taking, and about 87 percent of that reason was they didn’t want to be
    disappointed. They’d been disappointed to an alarming amount by someone who was
    supposed to be a picture perfect father, and at the ages of twelve and nine,
    they both learned that life didn’t work like that. As two people who never took
    risks, they slowly learned that being cautious had its vices, the most
    prominent that friends weren’t easy to come by. Sabrina had Harley, and Sawyer
    had Isobel, and that was about it. Not
    to say they weren’t incredibly thankful for that single best friend that had
    accepted all their faults without question. They were.

  • Jan Fausto

    Thanks a lot for the tips! My biggest problem is to start writing, I’m always hesitant to put my ideas on paper.

  • Isabella P.

    Have you ever felt do excited to be going to such a fabulous place but nervous at the same time? Well, that’s how I felt when I walked up New school. I, Ivy Patronus was walking up to the most prestigious magic school, the Goddess School of Ancient Girls. The school was a beautiful castle with stone walls and the castle that was almost 50 feet high. To my left was a beautiful lake that glimmered in the light and behind that was a spectral meadow with all sorts of animals and flowers. To the right of the castle was a gleaming forest and in front of the forest looked sort of like a house with girls taking different animals inside. I picked up my bag and walked to the front of the castle and opened the door.

    The hall was huge and had many different doors inside leading to the Headmistress’s office and different teachers’ offices. There were a lot of girls with suitcases talking with friends and teachers trying to get kids attention.

    Then all of a sudden, a beautiful women walked out of the Headmistress’ office and all of the older students went quiet. The younger students including me then following the older students went silent.

    “ Welcome all to another year at the Goddess School of Ancient Girls. My name is Headmistress Athena, goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. So, basically, everything that has to do with school! Some of you have been here for 7 years and you will be graduating. Others have been here for 3, 4, 5 and 6 years and now have got what the academy is all about. Some have been here 2 years and are just about to take an important milestone into our academy. The rest are here to start their 1st year and begin their training as ancient girls. But, I congratulated you all for being here today and enjoying our training in magic and mystery. All 4th, 5th and 6th years please go to your dorm rooms NOW!!! The rest of you, LISTEN UPPP!! 1st years stand in front of the poduim near me, so you can do Orientation. 2nd and 3rd years, head to the Dean of Students’ office door. 7th years, stay here!”

    Headmistress Athena then finished up and I walked up with my suitcase to the poudium where there were about 100 other girls waiting. One girl was getting mobbed by lots of girls, saying “Princess Amythest, what happened to your father?” and “Princess Amythest, come over to my place!” I suddenly decided to take action and grab the girl.

  • Yami

    Felt the cold mud in my vans as I excused my way through the masses to make it up to our blanket behind a candy covered man with a “DRINK MORE WATER” sign on the right and a group of afrocentric females on my left. The anticipation for the blanket that covered the stage to drop was building as more people moved closer to the main stage in hopes to catch a better look. I plopped down on our damp blanket and joined my friends and before I could even find a comfortable spot… “Bombs Over Baghdad” drops and I rose to my feet to see the ripple of the rising crowd before me and the yells of everyone around me.

    There they were, in all their glory. Big Boi and Mr. 3000 himself bombard the stage with 100 watts of energy and the crowd rages closer to them in their excitement. I wanted to move closer too. Instinct made me want to be in the midst of the candy kids and the hipsters right in front of the stage where the legends were, but I was too beat from the
    day’s activities to fight my way through the crowd. So I stayed and took off my
    mud covered sneakers and hopped on our blanket to the sounds of Outkast’s
    homecoming.

    That’s exactly what it felt like, a homecoming. Although this was a crowd of ravers and hipsters, there was also a huge crowd that came out that day solely to catch Outkast’s first performance in GA in 10 years. This was definitely NOT Coahella’s crowd! The cool kids in Georgia knew every word of every song. From the white kids that almost trampled my friend that was lying down on the blanket just to get a closer look at the
    stage, to the group of multicultural older gentlemen in their shirtless guts of
    glory that sung along to every word of every song as they raged a few blankets
    away. This was Georgia welcoming them back… reminding them how much we loved
    them.

    They felt the energy too. The two fed
    off of it. “Are you still here with us,” Andre screamed several times
    throughout the performance as the crowd yelled louder and louder to remind them
    that we were still here… still in the moment with them. As one we jumped and
    rapped along to the sounds of classics off of Aquemini like “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Part 1)” and “Hootie Hoo”
    off of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.

    Even their solo moments were better in GA. Big Boi popped it off with the party anthem of “Kryptonite” and Janelle Monae joined Andre on stage for “Hey Ya.” You could see the excitement in their movement. Although they had that dreaded confining box in the middle of the stage, similar to that of the Coachella performance, their energy wouldn’t allow them to enter it. Instead they moved back and forth on the massive stage with smiles on their faces. We knew 3 Stacks would not turn his back on this crowd. He was
    too happy to see us.

    The psychedelic images on the monitor on
    stage were more so for the Counterpoint crowd that loves their trippy visuals,
    but I wish I could have gotten more. I was craving more production to
    compliment the energy, but hey, the performance stood alone.

    By the time that Killer Mike jumped on stage and the fireworks went off to the sounds of “The Whole World” I was barefoot on the cold ground grooving with masses. I was waiting for the “ATL
    HOE!” chant that I heard earlier that day during Killer Mike’s Run The Jewels
    set, but it never quite happened. It was okay though. There were no complaints
    as far as needed energy. Outkast was in the Dirty amongst the cold, wet, dirty
    Southern crowd that welcomed them with open arms. It was the homecoming that we
    hoped for and were craving for 10 years.

  • Yotsuba Suenaga

    Thanks for your tips. I’m very new when it comes to writing and I have always been scared to dive into it. I had many worries and doubts when it came to writing my own novel. Fear of failure, bad grammar, etc. But, I soon realized that we all make mistakes. And the only way to get better is to make mistakes and learn from them. =] Thanks again. Here is a little snippet from my novel. I always had trouble introducing characters but I think I got it down packed some now.

    And so, today was the big day. Today was the day I became a High School
    student. I was very excited but didn’t feel like getting out my wonderful and
    cozy bed. I have to say, this is the best place in the world. The foams and
    fibers within my mattress can even put a restless cow to sleep in seconds. I
    just needed five more minutes in heaven before starting my day off. As always
    though, I was unable to get those extra five minutes of sleep as planned. I was
    awakened by my sister vexatious scream. That scream of hers is the reason why I
    don’t own an alarm clock. It was fun while it lasted. As I started to rise up
    out the bed, I suddenly felt the pressure of 55kg girl on top up my chest
    screaming my name out loudly.

    “SASUO! SASUO! SASUO! Time to get up!”

    “Just…a few more…minutes Mayumi.”

    “Up, up, up. I need help reaching the bathroom sink.”

    “…Just give me a second ok. I’ll be right down…”

    To this day, I still don’t understand how someone can be so energetic so
    early in the morning.

    As I looked over at
    Mayumi, I could tell she was more prepared than I. She was already dressed in
    her lengthy white lab coat that was obviously too big for a child her age. The
    sleeves of her coat extended passed her hands while the bottom of the coat
    dragged behind her like a wedding dress as she walked. She even wore the bunny
    hair clip mom gave to me when I was born. At least her twin ponytail was well
    done by Auntie Sumiko this time. I am almost prepared to go to school with my
    messy bed hair. Maybe I should pin my hair up like Mayumi.