How to write a very good book

Have you ever read a chapter of a very good book and wondered just how the author managed to think of that first, jaw-dropping sentence? And how she approached that dazzling descriptive paragraph? And just how many rewrites it took to get that other amazing bit at the end?

Or, writing a story of your own, have you ever wondered how other people do it?

Well, I have. And guess what, I have actually found an author, a good one (Maggie Stiefvater) who has taken the time to go through a whole chapter of her latest book (The Scorpio Races) and explain, line by line, what she was thinking.

Wow. It must have taken her AGES. When she could have been working on one of her new books. (She writes two at a time, she says).

I think her description is amazing. And so useful. As someone who never quite managed to do a Creative Writing course (neither did she), I do often wonder about how other people do these things.

So here is the  link to that post, written earlier this month.

I hope Maggie won’t mind me showing you one of the illustrations from her draft. She then comments on every note – showing what she was thinking at the time, what she was trying to do, and how she tried to make it better.

I must admit I haven’t read The Scorpio Races yet, but I’m in awe of her writing in Shiver. If you happen to be wondering how to do it, this is one version of how it’s done. And if you happen to know of any other links to great blogs about the writing process, perhaps you could share them here. Our very own  Sarah Webb, for example, has just launched an eight week ‘Write That Book’ course. If your New Year’s resolution was to write a story of your own, what are you waiting for?

28 thoughts on “How to write a very good book

  1. Great post, Sophia! There are so many different aspects of the craft, aren’t there, – characters, plot, pacing, tense, view point, structure, dialogue – before you even get into the close up nitty gritty stuff. And that’s just the craft. Then you have the art! I always say you need to use your telescope then your microscope and then go back to your telescope!

  2. Brill post!

    The ideas are fab, and will really help me when writing!
    My New Year’s Resolution was to write a book, and I think this has persuaded me too…

    Well, even more than I was already anyway.

    • That’s fabulous, Hikma. Great resolution. Stick with it and very good luck. As you can see from what Maggie says, it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect first time. Just keep going and you’ll work out how to make it better. xxx

  3. Thanks for pointing us towards Maggie’s site, Sophia. This looks amazingly interesting. Here’s the big question: Do I pop over there now and read it, or do I do what I’m supposed to be doing and get on with the first draft of Flame? Mmm…
    What would Maggie – or Sophia – do?
    Fab post! xxx

    • Flame! Fab name, Maggi! Well, of course you read Maggie’s posts first, then Sarah’s, then check Facebook and Twitter, then make a fresh cup of tea, then Facebook again … and then it’s bedtime. But I do hope you manage to fit some writing in too. It sounds wonderful. xxx

  4. I’ve always dreamed of being a writer – I write every day and love it so much.

    This has been such a fabulous post! Thanks!

    Sophia, would you mind if I ask you a question?

    Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? And also, when is The Look out? And what inspired you to write it?

    Orli

    • Hi Orli. Well, if you’re writing every day, you’re already a writer! I’m glad you liked the post. And yes, I pretty much wanted to be a writer of some sort all my life. After I grew out of my ‘Olympic gymnast’ phase anyway. But as I couldn’t even do a handstand against a wall, that didn’t last long.

      Thanks for asking about The Look. It’s out in March and I’ll be talking and blogging a lot about it then. I was inspired to write it by a fan called Elizabeth, who asked me if I thought she should be an English teacher or a model. If you look under ‘The Look’ on my website, you’ll see what happened next there! xxx

  5. Hi, Sophia ,ace post!
    I’m hoping that this is the year I get published. And I’m feeling very pleased with myself because I managed to get past the 11,000 word mark on my current novel last night.
    *grins like a Chesire cat on a sugar rush*
    Best of luck with your own projects, everyonexx

  6. Hey Sophia! :D Great post and thanks for the Link, it should be a great help to lots of people, who want to write. :)

  7. I want to be a writer more than anything else in the world! Maybe I sound desperate, but I want to creative more than anything else in the world – I want to write and draw and do nothing else really!

    Thanks for the links! :)

  8. Maybe it sounds desperate but I want to be a writer absolutely passionately! I want to be creative more than anything else… a life of drawing and writing would suit me down to the ground ;)

    Thanks for the links, Sophia!

  9. Great post. Thanks so much for taking the time to share both of those links! Indeed…always wondered just what authors are thinking sometimes :-) Peace and Grace, Catia

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