How do we write books

Writing a book: Stress-free from the idea to the novel

to write a book

What is a dream for many can quickly turn into a nightmare: Writing your own book. Because only a good idea is not enough for a good novel. And very few of us are geniuses who can simply shake a complete novel off our sleeve. So if the inspiration is to become a book at some point, it takes a lot of perseverance and help. With our tips, things will be a little easier.

Writing inspiration for a book: Where do I get good ideas from?

Writing inspiration for the book

The best ideas are usually right under your nose, as self-publishing star Poppy J. Anderson (over a million Kindle book sales on Amazon) reported in her column on That is, a writer's first job is to keep a close eye on the environment. Only those who observe closely will be able to describe in detail afterwards. "We are surrounded by them, they buzz around us like dust. Everything I do differently from others is to be mindful of it," writes bestselling author Andreas Eschbach on his blog on novel ideas.

It is always a good idea to have a notebook or something with you so that you can record interesting ideas immediately. We don't want inspirations to disappear as suddenly as they came. This notebook should also have a permanent place on the bedside table, because many good ideas come while we are dreaming or in the twilight state between waking and sleeping.

Another, almost inexhaustible source of inspiration is of course reading. "That's great, I want to be able to do that too" or "How terrible, I could do that a thousand times better" are two thoughts that have probably come to mind while reading. From there, the step to writing yourself is not far. Reading works by other authors not only trains your judgment, you also automatically acquire new knowledge and expand your own vocabulary.

Tips on finding inspiration

  • Observe the environment and really perceive it
  • Take notes so that you don't forget any ideas
  • See how and what others are writing about

Preparation: What do I need to know about my book before writing?

Once the idea for writing a book is there, the first structure can be developed with the help of brainstorming and mind maps. Very few writers just start writing, but prepare their stories. That means, even before the actual writing, the characters and their background are designed and a plot, i.e. a basic framework for the plot, is worked out.

The story arc is roughly outlined, the story is given a structure and a rough chapter plan is drawn up. So when you write you always know where you are in the story. Tedious plotting is not something for everyone, but rather a question of type. However, a well-prepared plot makes sense, especially at the beginning. It helps to keep track of things while writing, to get stuck because of missing ideas or to lose the thread because of an overabundance of ideas. This is also the opinion of thriller author Marcus Johanus, who makes a case for plotting on a blog.

Helpful questions when plotting a book

  • does my story have a beginning, middle part and end or conflict and solution?
  • are the problem and solution realistic and understandable?
  • do the actions merge sensibly?
  • do I really know my characters?
  • how can I summarize my book in one sentence?

Research: The Path to Credibility

Depending on the topic and plot of the book to be written - regardless of whether it is a novel or a non-fiction book - the research can be more or less time-consuming. There is always one thing: important. This means that the author often acquires more knowledge than he actually uses in the book. And that's a good thing, says author Marcus Johanus and warns against infodump, that is, the clumsy dumping of information that has obviously been hastily read. The more basic knowledge there is, the denser and, above all, more believable the story will be. The factual reality can be left behind in fiction. But a violation of the basic rules of logic or physics will not go over very well with most readers.

As is often the case, the research possibilities are numerous. The internet offers a good first point of contact and usually all the information you need. Research in books and libraries is also an option. Libraries in particular are also an excellent place to get further inspiration, says Andreas Eschbach. Also, even if you are not yet a famous author, don't be afraid to ask experts for help. Most are happy about the interest and are happy to share their knowledge.

Research tips for writing a book

  • There is not enough background information
  • Experts help where the internet and library do not get you anywhere

The first draft novel: Don't be afraid of bad texts

The first draft of a novel

It's finally time to actually write the book, but the first half page is already a disaster? No problem - just keep going. "The first attempt is always crap," Ernest Hemingway already knew. The first draft is basically just an exercise, or rather the raw material for what comes later. That means: the first draft is (almost) never good. But you shouldn't let that discourage you.

Even the first five attempts, after half a page, literally wandered into the trash is no help. It is best to concentrate purely on the writing and not to take a second look at the text until the first draft is completely finished. Then the whole thing is put away for now. And lo and behold, after a little time (whether hours, days, weeks or more) the text is no longer as horrible as you thought at first, but a very good basis for work.

Anyone who feels unsure about the actual hand tool can also take a step back and learn to write in and of itself. We have put together more information on this on the info page Learn to write.

Tips for writing a book for the first time

  • turn off the inner critic
  • set fixed but achievable goals
  • write every day (even if it's only 30 minutes)

Motivation: remedies for writer's block and "no desire"

Writer's block is a myth. Mostly there are very different difficulties that are summarized under this term. The two biggest of these are the fear of the blank sheet, i.e. the actual beginning, and of the inner critic. It usually comes out in the course of writing, sowing doubts and reducing self-esteem. The simplest remedy for acute symptoms: distraction. Going for a jog, reading a good book or listening to music can help clear your head and find new motivation. However, it is only a short-term solution, with the real problem remaining.

Often times, the real problem is that you don't take the writing of a book seriously enough. Therefore, the only way to permanently overcome writer's block is to make writing a necessary habit. If writing is an integral part of the day and is followed in a disciplined manner, there is no such thing as writer's block. Because all beginnings are difficult, it also helps to "write warmly". That means you start with a small, different text or even a poem before you get to the "real" story. And sometimes it helps to know that you are not alone with your problem.

Help with writer's block

  • don't despair
  • brief distraction
  • Integrate writing firmly into the day

Revision: What do I have to consider when revising?

As soon as the first draft is completed with all your heart and soul, it turns from a gruesome attempt into a perfect masterpiece that you have just created. But neither one nor the other view of the text is particularly constructive when it comes to revising it. It is therefore advisable to leave the finished design behind and gain some distance. How long this period of time is - whether you just sleep one night, wait a few days, or a few weeks - depends on you.

Then it helps, among other things, to read the text aloud to yourself as if it were a stranger. Bulky formulations and incomprehensible sentences immediately come to light. It can be helpful to change the typeface or print out the text to literally have a fresh look at it. It can also help to focus on certain aspects during the individual steps of the revision and to disregard the others first. That means that at first the gaze is only directed at the content: Are the connections logical? Is the action comprehensible and is the causative motivation? This is followed by checking the flow of language (do I have favorite words that I use more than average?) And finally checking the spelling.

Tips for revising

  • gain distance
  • focus on individual aspects
  • not afraid of big changes

Feedback and correction: Unfamiliar eyes help against text blindness

Writing a book: feedback & correction

Let's be honest: Nobody wants to read a book - whether in print or as an eBook for Kindle or Tolino - that is full of errors. It doesn't matter whether it's grammar, spelling or logic. There are readers who stumble upon such mistakes, may smile, and then read on. After all, everyone makes mistakes, even well-known authors are not immune to them. For others, on the other hand, they mean a significant reduction in reading pleasure. Only one thing helps: correcting, correcting, correcting. Or even better, let others correct it. It is not for nothing that it is said: "Four eyes see more than two". There can also be six, eight or even more eyes.

It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on professional proofreading. In most cases, there will be a few volunteers among family and friends who can take a look at the manuscript. Even then, the manuscript will likely not be perfect. But a benevolent reader overlooks a small mistake or two if the content is correct.

Correction tips:

  • more eyes see more errors that can be fixed
  • no success without correction
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