Writing Your First Book

Tips for writing your first book

One important decision to make before writing your first book, or second or third for that matter, is to decide if it will be written in the first person or third person.

I was typical of most when I wrote my first book. It was about me, so naturally, it was written in the first person which naturally meant I, me and myself came grammatically first. I did this, I did that, he told me, I was there, for example.

It was only after reading a number of debut books that I realised how common it is to write about your own experiences in your first book. The problem is that quite honestly, it can become a tedious read after only a few chapters. Very few books written in the first person make gripping reading. A far better idea is to take your idea, experience or expertise and work on writing it in the third person.

When I came to writing my second book, I was still concentrating on my own experiences, but by deciding to write in the third person, a whole palette of possibilities became available. It was far easier to create a story with pace, colourful characters and incorporate fiction into what was essentially a ‘my life and all the happy and sad things that have happened to me’ story.

Simply put, separate yourself and become the writer of a story where the main character just happens to be you. Giving yourself a new name and creating a short list of your positive and negative personality traits helps you build this new you character.

It also helps you develop what is called ‘voice’. That is, a unique writing style that should become recognisable to your readers. Although it takes time to develop and even recognise yourself, it is very important to develop a style that is uniquely you. Think of some authors you enjoy reading and think about the voice they use.

Although it is now extremely easy to publish your first book on either Kindle, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Lulu, Createspace or a plethora of other self-publishing or vanity publishing choices, it is important to think about what reputation you would like to create. A poorly written and error-filled first book in the first person will not give a good impression, no matter how compelling the story. Far better to be patient and take the time to re-write and edit your manuscript and get some feedback from friends, family or even better, someone independent before rushing into publishing.

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5 thoughts on “Your First Book

  • 12/03/2011 at 5:53 am
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    I've been struggling with POV in my first novel attempt. It's YA Fantasy, so I can't say it's about my life, (that would be scary and awesome at the same time), but my first draft is all in the first person POV.

    At some point, I started to doubt that this was the best way.

    I posted on my blog about my POV struggles. @Albert_Berg commented about the importance of voice, and how difficult it is as a newbie to develop your voice using first person.

    My book seems to be on indefinite hold (I'm about 75% through the first revision), but I'm leaning now towards re-doing the whole thing in 3rd person.

    Hmmm…maybe that's why I keep putting it on the back burner…

    Thanks for the great post! Always appreciate advice on POV :)

    Reply
  • 12/03/2011 at 7:02 am
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    It's interesting that you talk about writing about your own experience in conjunction with first person and the possible pitfall one can fall into. I've always avoided writing about myself for that very reason, and have never been able to fully explain why. I occasionally write in first person, but I refuse to have the character bear any similarity to me.

    Instead, I try to make the character so different that there's no way any aspect of myself can leak into him or her, even if I'm drawing on an experience I've had. For me, it feels (and reads) better to attack the emotion of an event somewhat objectively, with no real connection to it.

    Great post. It got me thinking.

    Reply
  • 17/03/2011 at 9:02 pm
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    Derek – what about second person? For some reason, I'm oddly drawn to it.

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  • 17/03/2011 at 9:23 pm
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    I've been playing with the fourth person Jayne, so go for it with the second. All yours :) btw, welcome again!

    Reply
  • 02/02/2012 at 1:40 am
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    Ah… first person. T.A. Miles and I never pick up books written in first person. Why? Because it’s just one person’s POV. One person, through their tunnel vision, only their fingers to feel their world in. It gets tedious, and boring. Third person is, as you said, another layer a freedom. You can get other people’s perspectives, their POV, their opinions, their impressions of other things and situation around them. Much better for the reader. I’m so glad Miles got me out of the dreadful habit of first person when I started writing. Everything comes out much better in 3rd.

    Reply

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