The two things I do when I write a book

It’s kind of funny, but after 50-plus books and three decades in the business I still do two really basic things when I write a book.

Wright_BooksThe first is that – no matter how much planning I put into it beforehand, no matter how clear I am about what’s to be done – I always start off by typing the title, the by-line, and the words ‘Chapter One’.

Why do this? It’s something that probably works for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) writers too. It’s like keel-laying used to be in a shipyard. It means the book is STARTED, even if the blank screen then stares at me.

The plan is important too – and in the next little, on this blog, while I’m going to explain how to make planning work while still having the fun of ‘free form creative seat-of-the-pants’ writing.

The other thing? I never type ‘The End’ at the end. I mean, it’s obvious the book’s ended – there isn’t any more of it. Publishers don’t do it, either – unless the author really really really really insists. And even then, maybe not.

How do you start a book? And are you entering National Novel Writing Month this year? It’s less than 30 days off. Planning starts…now. Watch this space.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015


12 thoughts on “The two things I do when I write a book

  1. I’ve never really thought about this, but at the risk of sounding pretentious I’m not sure when I start and when I finish. I do a lot of handwritten stuff before I type a word, and sometimes what I type might be a chapter or it might be more preproduction notes; it’s all a bit vague. And the end . . . after the final proof correction of the fourth draft, there’s usually a numb empty feeling as if my brain is waiting for another instruction.

    1. I do the same. Books are fuzzy in that sense. For me the ritual of typing the opening headers only happens after I have negotiated a contract and got the content and plan nailed. Not too dissimilar from the work that goes into a large building prior to the first shovel full of earth being turned for the foundation’s I guess.

  2. It’s a ritual thing to do and that helps make it all real, especially writing “Chapter One.” Because writing is really the only magic, which makes ritual all the more necessary and appropriate.

    Using Scrivener this year to help prep for NaNo! At least I’ll have names for all my characters at the beginning…

    1. Good luck for NaNo. As always I have projects that stop me leaping on the band wagon myself but I will be doing the usual cheering from the sidelines. November is the month I have to get as far ahead as I can on a new contracted title – possible now I have completed my ‘early military back list’ reissue programme. (I am still in discussion with publisher’s about some of my other military titles).

  3. I wrote my very first book last year with NaNo, although I got a little stressed at times keeping up the daily word count, I found it a very good way to write. It removes the tendency to keep editing as you go, and I think this helps. I wrote the sequel without Nano and it was a lot harder. So is the editing, but that’s another story!

  4. When I first get an idea I don’t start out with “chapter 1”. I lay out an outline detailing the potential plot. The outline is just a starting point and isn’t set in stone and it changes as my ideas and characters develop. I add in the titles “chapter 1”, “chapter 2”, etc after I have a better idea of the flow of the story

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