How to write a book without hurting anyone (mostly)

How to write a book without hurting anyone (mostly), guest post by Dan McClure

So you want to write a book? Congratulations! So does everyone! But are you going to write a book? Oh, yes you will! It’s going to be time consuming and harder than they make it look in the movies, but you’re going to do it. Know why? Because I’m going to give you the cheat codes.

How to write a book without hurting anyone (mostly), guest post by Dan McClure
Cheat Code 1 (The Unstoppable Opening Move):

Get your favorite book and read it again, but this time I want you to take copious notes. What kind of notes? Well, take note of every time the plot moves forward. What happened? Who did it? Why do you think it happened? And then read on to the next plot point and do the same. Repeat until finish.

You’re diagramming the plot now. You are literally plotting the plot points. When you’re finished you will have a very detailed outline of the plot of your favorite novel. Now, read it. Does it make sense? If it doesn’t, go back and look up the text around the plot points that don’t make sense and add some more notes. Eventually, you’ll get a skeletal structure of your most cherished read.

Guess what? That’s the outline of your first novel! See how easy it was?

I know. It sounds like plagiarism. Don’t worry. It isn’t. How could it be? You haven’t published anything yet! The reason this book is your favorite has a lot to do with the way the plot was stitched together. Plot, in my opinion, is the hardest part of writing. Once you can weave a good plot, you can write a good book. In fact, that’s the only thing a lot of successful authors can do, but don’t get me started.

Anyway, you’ve got the bare bones of your plot. Now take your ideas for what your book will be about and start swapping them in. Soon, you’ll see where you need to flesh some things out and where you might have too much going on. Toy around with that for a few months. Take your time with it! You won’t need to do this with every book you’ll ever write, but for the first one it’s critical.

How to write a book without hurting anyone (mostly), guest post by Dan McClure
Cheat Code 2 (Unlocking the Secret Character)

Who are your most beloved heroes from film and literature? What made them unforgettable? What made you care about them? Take those things and leave the rest. Forget about what made them heroic. Forget about what made them powerful or quirky. That’s window dressing. You’ll add it later. You want the readers to care about your protagonist first and foremost. And if you don’t care, then they won’t either.

Next thing is easy and also hard. Take the worst moment in your life and remember who you were at that time. Now imagine who you wish you could have been. Take both of those things and combine them with the sympathetic traits of your favorite characters and you’ve got your protagonist.

Cheat Code 3 (FINISH IT!!!)

Now write. Write as often as you can and don’t stop. What you will write is going to be terrible. Who cares? No one at this point, so you shouldn’t either. Keep going. Insert your hero into each plot point and then pull them out. Do it again and again like you’re knitting a fucking quilt, because you are. When you don’t have any more plot for your hero to perforate, guess what?

You’re done!

Except you’ve only just begun. Revision is where the real novel is written. You’ll find everything you’ve written is horrible and makes no sense. Don’t worry. That’s how it should be. Now, sit down and read it from beginning to end and rip it apart like it was your kid sister’s favorite doll and then put it back together again better than before like your mom was telling you to.

You’ll know when you’re done. It will grow from reading like a grocery list written by a dyslexic serial killer to a story that could make a convict cry and a sailor blush. You’ll know when you’re done because it’ll be your new favorite novel.

Writing stories infused with the smoky charisma of classic film noir mixed with the pulse-pounding excitement of adventure fantasy and the cagey class of suspenseful espionage, Dan McClure brought the best parts of all of our most cherished pulp together and added his own signature brand of wit. He currently lives, writes and works in and around beautiful and historic ArlingtonMassachusetts.

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How to write a book without hurting anyone (mostly), guest post by Dan McClure

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How to write a book without hurting anyone (mostly), guest post by Dan McClure
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  1. Not only the contents but also the way you presented the issue is awesome. Particularly this one is articulating the sense of the discussion. Your word power is awesome. Keep it up.

  2. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  3. Is there one subject you would never write about? What is it?

    1. I don't know. I don't think so. I write fiction, so everything's fair game in my opinion.

  4. Thanks for featuring my books! Good luck to everyone in the contest.

  5. The outlining trick is very clever!


  6. Great post - I'm looking forward to checking this one out!

  7. Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

  8. What books are you looking to reading in 2017? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  9. Excellent guest post! Looking forward to checking out this book!

  10. I really loved the guest post, thank you sharing your thoughts!

  11. Hope you are having a fabulous weekend! Looking forward to checking out this book!

  12. Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

  13. These sound like fascinating books! Thanks for sharing.

  14. I really enjoyed the excerpt! Thanks for sharing.


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