Writing the perfect book is something a lot of aspiring writers strive for. I’ve been a writer for more than ten years and have gained some valuable insights over the years that transformed not only my writing process but also my perspective on what it means to create something truly exceptional. In this blog post, I will share the 5 key lessons I learned in my quest to write the perfect book.
5 Lessons on How to Write the Perfect Book
Lesson 1: Plan your story
When I started writing fiction, I was a pantser and wrote whatever came to mind. I could just sit down at the computer and write. I’m not sure if the stories I created were driven by characters or plot, but I do know one thing… Writing without a plan will leave you with a manuscript that needs so much editing that it might be easier to write a new book.
To create the perfect book, you need to understand the story structure, like the three-act structure and the seven plot points within it. Readers will have some expectations of your story, and you need to deliver on them. If you write thrillers, the story must be thrilling or scary. If you write romance, the story must be romantic and have a happy ending. You get the point. When I started planning out my stories before writing them, something magical happened. My stories improved, a lot. And editing also became a lot easier since I knew what I wanted to say in each chapter, with each scene.
Lesson 2: Embrace imperfections when writing the first draft
An important lesson that I learned early on is that it’s better to just write and get words down on a page than to sit with each sentence and strive for perfection. When you’re producing your first draft, just keep writing. Write scene by scene, chapter by chapter. If you plotted your story before writing it, you can choose if you want to write the story linearly chapter by chapter, or if you want to write the middle or ending first. By letting go of the need for perfection, I found freedom in expressing my ideas authentically and crafting a narrative that resonates with readers. And it is better to have a finished first draft than to have a few good chapters.
Lesson 3: Listen to other people’s feedback
This lesson has been one of the hardest ones for me to learn, not because I don’t like to get feedback, but because I have a hard time letting go of my manuscripts and letting others see them. Getting an outsider’s view is so important though. It is far too easy to become blind to the imperfections in your own manuscript, and an outsider can see things you’ve missed. You can either use beta readers or hire a professional editor to get feedback. The best way is to do both once you’ve edited your manuscript to the point when you don’t know how to improve it anymore by yourself. By embracing feedback, I learned to detach myself from my writing and view it objectively, making necessary revisions and improvements along the way.
Lesson 4: Cultivate patience and persistence
If you want to write the perfect book, you need to write a lot. Think about the 10,000-hour rule. To master a skill, you need to spend a lot of time doing it. That is true when it comes to writing as well. Some of the best writers in the world have come as far as they have because they write every day. And if you want to write the perfect book, you need to practice. And read a lot. Reading and writing every day is what exercising is to an athlete. That is how you improve.
I have created a morning routine where I write for an hour the first thing I do every day. Why in the morning? Because I get to be alone with my writing, and no one else wants my attention. I’ve done this for more than 100 days in a row now and have promised myself to do it for at least a year. My writing, my plotting, and the way I think about storytelling have improved since I started doing this. I recommend that you try writing every day too. Even if it is just one sentence a day.
Lesson 5: It is in the editing and revising that the magic truly happens
When I edit and revise, I go through the manuscript and focus on different things in each round of editing. First, I usually look at the big picture: Do I have all the parts of the seven-point system in place? Is the hook good enough? Does the reader understand the main character’s inner conflict? Then I move on to improving dialogue, looking at character arcs, and so on. Lastly, I look at language and grammar. I don’t see the point of fixing grammar and language from scratch since entire chapters may be cut from the manuscript. I take the feedback from beta readers and my editor into account when I edit, but I also trust my instincts and follow my gut so that the story stays authentic to me and my writing style.
In my quest to write the perfect book, I discovered that perfection lies not in flawlessness but in embracing the journey itself. It is through imperfections that stories come to life. It is in the journey of storytelling that the true magic of writing lies. There is no such thing as a perfect book.