200+ Creative Writing Prompts: 100% Unique Fiction Book Ideas

Picture this: your imagination is a match…and you need to light it.

There are a number of different methods of setting a match ablaze. You can swipe it on the ground, against a rough surface, use your own nail, or even light it with another match that’s already burning.

But the best (and easiest) way? Striking it against the matchbox it came in. That’s what it’s for, after all.

Creative Writing Prompts are Your Matchbox

All you need is one writing prompt to light your imaginative fire and you can burn through a book idea, formulating the plot and all with just a single prompt. You can even write a powerful short story with a small prompt!

And that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with. 

Because real writers know that you can easily come up with bits and fragments of a story but the overarching plot can be tricky to drum up.

You know what you want to write about: magic, advanced science, realistic contemporary stories, but you just can’t figure out how to go from the genre and an inkling of a character idea to a full-blown novel plot.

fiction writing prompts

200+ Creative Writing Prompts for the Best Fiction Book

If you’re ready to take the plunge and finally start writing a book like you’ve always talked about, we can help you get started.

Something to keep in mind that fiction writing is largely driven by voice, style, characters, and your plot.

These are 100% original, never-before-seen writing prompts you won’t find anywhere else.

But the ones listed in this article are just a small taste of what we really have to offer.

If you want to really let your imagination run wild, download our master list of over 200 original fiction ideas and writing prompts for a number of different genres!

But if you’re ready to start right now, here are a few to set the creative wheel of your imagination in motion.

Fantasy Writing Prompts

Fantasy is all about magic, creatures, and abilities. The possibilities with a fantasy world are nearly endless.

You can literally make up anything you want. This is why fantasy is my preferred genre to write in.

Here are some unique creative writing prompts for you fantasy-lovers out there.

#1 – A character finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.

#2 – This character has always had the ability to change how they looked, and so they hid their true appearance behind attractive façades. Now, their abilities aren’t working, exposing what they truly look like.

#3 – The once peaceful water dwellers have suddenly declared war on a settlement that was its only true ally. Your character has no idea why and is thrust into the war against their will.

#4 – Magic is the norm. Some excel at it, some are only okay, and others are against it completely, despite being able to use it. Your main character is the latter.

#5 – Time has always been a constant in a world where reality can be warped and stretched. Then your character, through research and hard work, discovers you can even alter time.

#6 – Your character researches untouched societies as a living. While deep in the jungle on an assignment, they accidentally allow themselves to be seen by someone from the society, a big no-no. What that person is capable of is beyond the world your character knew existed.

#7 – Your character’s world is dying. The actual earth is sick and killing all the plants and probably life as they know it.

#8 – One of your characters has magic. The other wants nothing more than to have magic. How far is that one person willing to go to make that magic theirs?

Tips for Writing with Fantasy Book Ideas:

Fantasy is a wildly popular genre. There are countless fantasy worlds out there and that means you really have to focus on being unique within your world.

Here are a few ideas to do just that:

  • Create 100% unique cultures
  • Avoid these worldbuilding mistakes
  • Develop slang for your world based on what’s popular/trending/makes sense with the time it takes place
  • Do NOT use common phrases like “train of thought” if trains don’t exist in your world
  • Use unique names
  • Don’t forget about diversity!
  • Opt for an unexpected and different journey and outcome (many fantasy novels follow a similar formula)
  • Write what you want to read!
  • Schedule your writing time and follow those deadlines if you really want to finish

Sci-Fi Writing Prompts

Are you one who loves advanced technology, diseases, and even space travel? If so, science fiction writing is right up your alley.

When it comes to creating new technologies and advanced societies, you really have to think outside the box.

Here are some sci-fi writing prompts to help you do that.

creative writing prompts science fiction prompt

#1 – Your main character wakes up in a space pod alone…next to a ship so massive it’s actually carrying a planet beneath it. Your character has no memory from before they wake.

#2 – Your character lives in a world where every single person’s DNA is carefully genetically designed for something to help the community. Your main character despises what they were created for. This has never happened before.

#3 – Your character lives on a planet other than Earth. In fact, they don’t even know Earth exists. Well, they didn’t until some sort of advanced, technical probe crash-landed in their settlement, exposing the fact that they’re not alone. Now they have to decide what’s best for their settlement.

#4 – The world used to be plagued with war and famine and inhumanity. But after years and years of developing a technical system that is the center of and controls everything, it’s almost completely peaceful. Your character is the engineer keeping the system running and when they uncover how it works, they contemplate abandoning everything they know.

#5 – The newest advancement in virtual reality adds physical sense. Now your characters can even hook up with people through your phone, all while staying at home. But when a glitch alters the mechanisms, what was once pleasure becomes pain and the user gets trapped in a VR state.

#6 – They’ve been keeping your character alive for over 300 years because of a secret they know. When someone new finally learns the truth, reality becomes…confusing. Now, with only a short adulthood left to live, your character must ensure nobody else learns of this secret. But…well, news spreads fast.

#7 – They didn’t mean to, but in an attempt to build a time traveling machine, your character actually discovered alternate universes – and then accidentally trapped themselves there. Oh, and this alternate universe hasn’t discovered electricity yet.

#8 – Your character lives in an ancient society. When a shiny, unnatural looking contraption touches down and creatures emerge, everything they once knew changes.

Tips for Writing with Sci-Fi Book Ideas:

This genre is another very popular one, and for good reason. You can imagine a realistic, yet very different future than what we currently have.

But you also want to make sure to remember a few of these guidelines when creating your science fiction world:

  • Decide if the story will take place in this world or a completely unique one
  • Create realistic advanced technology that your characters would actually use
  • Avoid modern-day slang unless the story takes place here
  • Create your own slang. A great example of this is in Jenna Moreci’s sci-fi novel, EVE: The Awakening pictured below)

creative writing prompts using slang example

“Dynamic” is the slang the author created in this instance. It fits with the sci-fi world and further creates a sense of realism and it pulls the reader deeper into the world.

Dystopian Writing Prompts

As this genre gains more and more popularity, you may find yourself wondering what a certain post-apocalyptic world might look like.

Why not write about it?

Here are some creative writing prompts to help you form a dystopian society anyone will want to read about.

#1 – A character finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.

#2 – Natural farming doesn’t exist anymore. Due to climate change, all food has to be manufactured in bulk and distributed. There is no flavor and is the same every day. Your character, who has spent their entire life in this world, takes a trip to the mountains far away from their home. There, they discover real plants, and on them, berries.

#3 –  Nature extremists take over the government, stopping at nothing to ensure all man-made harm on the planet is eradicated. Your character ends up in their clutches, forced to do their bidding.

#4 – Due to climate change, wildfires have engulfed the large majority of living land. Your character is one of many attempting to board a ship set for a new in-ocean settlement. The problem? That settlement doesn’t actually exist.

#5 – After a devastating illness that rocked only the wildlife population over 200 years ago, a scientist created a virus that strengthens animal’s immune systems with the purpose of creating balance and stabilizing the wildlife population once again. The problem is that it worked too well and the wildlife has exceeded (and reduced) the world’s population

#6 – After a devastating storm that encompassed the entire  world, the population has thinned significantly and your character, who lost all of their family but their youngest sibling, has to go up against the new “government” with a group of allies as they attempt to gain control over the living population of the world – in the worst way.

#7 – Over the course of a few hundred years, cases of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses caused the death and destruction of generations. Then an airborne substance was created to balance all levels of each person so they’re created 100% equal in every way. Turns out, your character is immune to the substance.

#8 – The third World War is done and over with for many years now. It was the downfall of the world’s economic system. Now your main character must navigate a world where governments no longer exist, money is useless, and survival is the only objective. Oh, and they have a debilitating medical condition to look after, too.

Tips for Writing with Dystopian Book Ideas:

Dystopian novels are one of the biggest trends sweeping the literary world. With books like The Handmaid’s Tale stirring more post-apocalyptic stories, it’s easy to get stuck in the same mindset as many other dystopian novelists.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to write dystopian:

  • Think way outside of the box
  • Use elements from your story’s past to form their present
  • Paint a very clear picture of everyday life for your character from the very first page
  • Get creative with the laws, culture, and customs
  • Don’t just “go with the flow”: The Handmaid’s Tale is so popular largely due to the fact that it’s unique. Not many people would have thought of a world that was overrun by a religion – and that’s what makes it so tantalizing; it’s unexpected.

creative writing prompts dystopian tips

Contemporary Writing Prompts

Some people don’t necessarily want to escape from this world. In fact, they just want to escape from their own life for a little bit but prefer to read something realistic, something they can relate to.

Contemporary writing is all about forming connections with readers.

Here’s who you can do just that with these creative writing prompts for your contemporary world.

#1 – Your character has done everything they’re told. They just graduated high school and are off to a very good college to get their degree in something reliable. But when they get there, they realize there’s a whole world of opportunity they never knew existed. Now they have to maintain the façade of going to college even though they decided to pursue a different endeavor.

#2 – Your character answers the door to nothing but an intricate envelope on the ground; an invitation. After attending the secret underground event, they become a part of the biggest activist group out there…and nobody even knows who they are.

#3 – While on a hike with friends, your main character discovers a small tower buried beneath the ground. After some digging, they realize it’s filled with scrolls they can hardly make out. What they contain will change your character’s view of life forever.

#4 – Your main character has been living a very sheltered, very dangerous life. After the death of their overbearing father, they’re thrust into the real world – only to realize just how different their life really is from those around them.

#5 – Your main character gets called out of school/work by someone they don’t know for something they are clueless about. But for some reason, the person addressing them thinks they already know everything about it.

creative writing prompts contemporary

#6 – As an artist, your main character has it well. But when everything they’ve worked for is burned in a tragic fire, they have to start all over with nothing to their name and a roommate determined to hold them back.

#7 – Life for your main character has never been easy. After venturing in and out of foster homes, they’re finally an adult and on their own. When their birth mother reaches out to reconnect, they never could’ve predicted what’s kept her away for so long. Now your character has to decide between getting involved with their real mother or cutting ties forever.

#8 – Death is a natural part of life. Your main character has been feared it or been affected by it. But when their best friend goes missing and their body shows up in front of their house, your character makes it their mission to find out who’s responsible – even if it means breaking the law…a lot of laws.

Tips for Writing with Contemporary Book Ideas:

I personally believe contemporary can be one of the hardest genres to write because you have the least wiggle room when it comes to creativity.

Everything has to be realistic in today’s society.

Here are a few tips to remember for writing contemporary from the very talented author of Little Birds and Writing Youtuber, Hannah Lee Kidder:

  • “Realistic dialogue is important. All the characters should sound different from one another, their vernacular should make sense for their background, and the writer should read it out loud.”
  • Tiny details are hella dope in descriptions. It should be so specific and vivid that when the reader finishes the story, they feel like they’ve lost a bit of reality.”
  • Imagining characters complexly is also important. Work on understanding real people. If you understand people and why they do what they do, you can understand characters and what they do”
  • Create a conflict many can relate to or sympathize with
  • Spend a lot of time on the character arc as many contemporary novels are primarily character-driven

Contemporary Writing Exercise From Hannah Lee Kidder: Sit in public and pick a random person, then write a completely made up story on them.

Romance Writing Prompts

Romance is the most popular book genre out there right now. People love reading about love!

But that doesn’t mean you can think of any love story and get to work.

We’ve got some strong writing prompts that can kickstart a love story worth spending hours reading.

creative writing prompts romance

#1 –Your character has gone through life believing that love is a choice. Their decision? To never get involved because love can only lead to pain and hardship. But after an argument with a stranger, their view of love, and life itself, is changed.

#2 – Marriage is just what happens when you’ve been with someone forever. For your main character, that seems obvious. But when they’re months away from their wedding and an old friend barges into their life unannounced, a wedding seems like the furthest thing from their desires.

#3 – Your main character is up for a big promotion within their company. They’ve put everything on hold for it – including their love life. But when an outsider is hired instead, they lose it, focusing all their energy on bringing this newcomer down. They just didn’t think about the fact that they might end up liking them.

#4 – Your main character and their significant other have been together since childhood. After a war between their people rips them away from each other, they’ll have to fight, manipulate, and fool in order to get each other back.

#5 – A package is mailed to your main character. It’s filled with what seems like hundreds of letters all to a single person. Memories and confessions of love are penned within those letters. Your main character feels drawn to the person on the other end and sets out to find them – and the letter’s true destination.

#6 – Arranged marriages are the standard. In fact, nobody marries for love. Love doesn’t even exist in your character’s world. But when they’re drawn to someone who’s already spoken for, they start to question everything they know about love.

#7 – Your main character lives in a society of slavery. If you’re not born in a certain family, you’re shipped off and sold. When your character is sold for the 8th time in their short 20 years, then end up at one of the top houses – and become a personal servant to the next leader of their settlement. Soon, they’re enthralled in a romance that could get them both killed…because he’s already promised to another…a very dangerous other.

#8 – Cheating is wrong. Your character’s society puts emphasis on loyalty above anything else. In fact, cheating and betrayal of any kind in any relationship are punishable by life in prison (and even death in extreme cases). So why does something that’s been illegal for as long as they can remember feel so right when your character meets someone new? Avoiding jail just became the most difficult part of your character’s life.

Tips for Writing with Romance Book Ideas:

Even though romance is an extremely popular genre doesn’t mean you can be lazy when it comes to the actual romance and creative writing prompts isn’t always enough to help you develop a full-blown romance.

People read romance to be invested, to feel something real.

That’s why you have to remember these tips when writing romance in your novels:

  • NEVER romanticize abuse as “love” (AKA, a jealous boyfriend should never be praised for “loving your character more” because this is harmful to readers)
  • Create real chemistry by giving your characters qualities that would actually foster a connection
  • Avoid “insta-love” by giving your characters time to bond and get to know each other
  • Look out for serious romance cliches and overused plot lines like love triangles, forbidden romances (these can be great if done uniquely!), and crazy exes
  • Continuously up the stakes whenever the reader gets comfortable with the relationship

Horror/Thriller Writing Prompts

Because being terrified is entertaining to some people, horror and thriller books exist and are quite popular!

The great thing about this genre is that you can get really creative and really dark.

If you gravitate toward writing terrifying, anxiety-inducing stories, here are some creative writing prompts to get the twisted part of your mind moving:

#1 – Your main character is home alone, just like most nights. This time, however, a new neighbor pays them a visit. And it wasn’t for the last time.

#2 – Eight murders have taken place in your character’s town in the past 8 weeks. Once a week, on the same day, at the same time. When your character gets abducted after being out past the town’s new curfew, they have only 48 hours to discover why this is happening and how to get free…all while being tortured by the murderer.

#3 – It’s a day of celebration in your character’s hometown! A 100-year-old time capsule is about to be opened, so of course they go, just like most of the town. When a deceased human hand with a sinister note attached to it is the only thing in the capsule, questions start to buzz. The first being, who is the person who wrote the note? Oddly enough, the note is written in your main character’s handwriting…with their signature…dated 82 years before they were even born.

#4 – Your main character suffers from a condition that gives them periodic blackouts for seemingly no reason. The only thing they can seem to remember from before each blackout is a bike. A red bike with a white basket and muddy tires. One day, they see that very bike leaning up against their house but this time, they don’t blackout.

#5 – Odd and unexplainable events are said to happen in a certain seaside town. Your main character takes it upon themselves to visit in an effort to see just how accurate the sightings are. What they find is beyond anything they imagined. But now they can’t seem to escape the town.

#6 – Your main character and a couple friends take a boat trip to a tiny, vacant, off-limits island for a night of celebration. When the sun goes down, they realize just how occupied the island actually is…and there’s a reason it’s off-limits.

#7 – Your main character is in therapy because whenever they close their eyes at night, they see (very vividly) someone’s tragic death. Some say it’s just their twisted imagination, their new therapist thinks it is something much, much different…and dangerous.

#8 – Your main character gets into an accident. While they make a seemingly full recovery, something has just been off inside their head since the crash. When they wake up next to a mutilated body in an unrecognizable place, they start to worry.

Tips for Writing with Horror and Thriller Book Ideas:

Scaring people so much so that they sweat while simply reading is a difficult task. You really have to focus on the structure of your writing in order to create that reaction.

Here are a few things to remember if you write horror and thriller:

  • Building anticipation will be your #1 focus
  • Readers need to feel surprised and scared so dig deep and get twisted
  • Plot twists are a must; never let your characters or readers see what’s coming
  • Continuously up the stakes
  • Focus on building deep sympathy for your character from the very beginning. This will make the stakes seem even higher and increase tension, just as Stephen King does in his infamous novel, IT, pictured below.

creative writing prompts thriller example

Mystery Writing Prompts

Human curiosity is what makes this genre so incredibly popular. We always want to figure out what happened. Mystery books are natural page-turners because we just aren’t satisfied until we find out what happened.

But that can be difficult to create from nothing.

Here are some great mystery creative writing prompts to get your mind spinning in unknown directions.

#1 – Your character is 16 and just learned they were the last person to see their crush the night they were murdered. But when they come forward with these details, they become the new main suspect. They’re determined to solve their crushes murder or risk going to jail for something they didn’t do.

#2 – Recently, there’s been a number of abandoned cars scattered throughout the city. Nobody knows where they’re coming from and there’s not a single personal item in them. That is, until one is discovered with a freshly removed human scalp on the dashboard.

#3 – For the past month, your character has received a number of disturbing and detailed drawings in their mailbox. After chalking it up to immature kid stunts, they try to forget about it. But when the drawings come to life in brutal, horrific ways, they’re the only person who knows of the drawings and therefore, knows what one will come next.

#4 – Your character gets a DNA test for fun – just to see where they really come from. After becoming obsessed with one little detail, they soon discover a number of their ancestors from all over the world were once located in a single, unpopulated place; a gathering of sorts.

#5 – Your character’s spouse nearly falls through the door, beaten nearly to requiring hospitalization. When an unknown but distinct brand marking is discovered between their shoulder blades, your character has to find out who they are and why they did it.

#6 –  A single member of each noble family has been murdered every week for the past two months. Your character is of a very noble household and can barely sleep each night. So they decide to find out who is responsible.

#7 – Your character’s religion has a talisman as old as the religion itself. After it goes missing, all fingers point to the chief’s oldest child of 19 years, engaged to the healer’s oldest child. But they never could’ve done it. They were (romantically involved) with your main character when the theft occurred.

#8 – Your main character wakes up every morning feeling as though they didn’t get more than a couple hours of sleep. After sleep studies, medications, and trying everything available, nothing seems to work. They decide to videotape a night of sleep to determine if maybe they’re sleepwalking. Turns out, they are. Except they seem completely conscious. In fact, in the video, they approach the camera, smirk, and walk away with a wave before disappearing for nearly the entire night.

Tips for Writing with Mystery Book Ideas:

Mystery is a very difficult genre to write. You have to ensure that you don’t give away too much information so the readers don’t figure it out.

These are some of our tips for writing mystery books:

  • Make readers think they know what will happen by planting false foreshadowing along with real hints
  • Make the antagonist very likable
  • Juxtapose tense scenes with mellow ones to increase tension
  • Keep the story moving forward always

WHAT TO DO NEXT IF YOU’RE SERIOUS

Having the book idea isn’t all it takes to write a great book. You need the ins and outs of the process, how to start your outline, and even what to do in order to take this idea to a finished, published product.

Here’s what you can do right now to get started!

#1 – Download your FREE master list of writing prompts

This is a list of over 200 unique, never-before-seen writing prompts. You’ll recognize a few on the list from this blog post but many more you have not seen.

No matter which genre you want to write in, these creative writing prompts can help you develop a book idea that can turn into a captivating, intriguing story.

Click here to download your list now!

#2 – Sign up for your FREE training

Now that you have the book ideas, you just need some training to take you a step further.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

SPOTS ARE LIMITED!

free training

You don’t want to miss out on all he has to offer because once you watch this, you’ll be able to put these creative writing prompts to use.

 

#3 – Get started on your mindmap!

You’re ready to get to work on your mindmap, also known as a rough outline of what your plot will look like.

We have a great fiction mindmap template right here for you to download – for free!

This will help you get started with the brainstorming process and before you know it, you’ll have a fully completed outline that’s ready for you to start writing!

 

Writing prompts can be very powerful ways to start a novel! How did you come up with your book idea and how much has it changed or grown from its conception?

how to write a memoir

How to Write a Memoir: 13 Steps You CAN’T Skip if You Want Success

Learning how to write a memoir might seem simple.

You may think it easy to jot down details about your life in a cohesive, entertaining fashion…but there’s quite a bit more to it.

Memoirs can be very complex pieces of work. It takes a lot of skill and craft to be able to write down intimate details about your life for others to read and learn from. Which means learning how to write a memoir can be really hard.

But the great part?

Writing a memoir is both empowering and rewarding, and when broken down into these feasible steps, it’s something you can learn to master in no time.

How many people can say they wrote a book detailing the most impactful moments of their lives?

Not many.

And by taking this leap and diving head first into your memories and entire life, you’re reaching new heights for yourself and you may even enlighten others by the end of your journey.

how to write a memoir facebook

What is a memoir?

The memoir definition is: a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources.”

We all typically think of a memoir and cringe a little at the idea of a book about someone else’s life. But that’s not all a memoir is!

Essentially, this is a book written by you about key moments in your life. You bring your memories to life in order to touch on an overarching message others can learn and grow from.

It’s like the highlight reel from your diary (if you ever had one) about the experiences that shaped your life.

Memoir VS Autobiography

I know what you’re thinking, “Aren’t they the same thing?”

With so many genres and writing terminology out there, knowing the differences between a memoir vs autobiography, (aka works of writing that are basically the same) can be confusing.

They’re both about someone’s life written by themselves, right? Right.

But they do differ in a single way that really makes a memoir vs an autobiography completely different in terms of their end results.

A memoir typically covers one aspect of a writer’s life (or a continuous theme through memories), while an autobiography is a chronological account of the writer’s life.

So if you want to write a play-by-play of your entire life from the moment you popped into this world to the very second you started writing, you’d write an autobiography.

But if you’re looking to share a profound message with the world through your own real-life experiences, you’ll write a memoir.

Memoir Meaning and Influence

Writing a memoir can not only be a valuable experience for you, but the impact it may have on other people is astounding too.

You have a life worth something. You have experiences that led you to a very specific place in life, and you know what?

Others have undoubtedly been in your shoes before and will benefit from you writing a book

Essentially, you can teach others how to get through what you did or even how to learn from their own journeys just as you have yours.

That’s the meaning of a memoir and its influence knows no bounds.

How to Write a Memoir

Writing a memoir can be difficult simply because it’s about your life. Somehow, we find it too hard to put our own lives into words through a meaningful message.

How do you really sum up an accumulation of years and years of experience in only a couple hundred pages?

We’ll help you learn how to write a memoir worth reading – and sharing.

#1 – Choose your focus or theme

A memoir isn’t just a list of all the experiences in your life. If it were, you’d call it an autobiography.

What sets memoirs apart from a simple retelling of your life is an overarching theme or message that others can take away from it – and that you personally learned from the stories you share.

Think about what you want others to take away from reading your memoir.

What will they learn or realize or gain from reading about your life? You can ask yourself those very same questions about your life to find the answers.

What have you learned throughout your life? What’s the number 1 message that your experiences have taught you?

Once you have that big, broad idea, the real work begins.

#2 – List all associating memories

It’s time to do a little mind mapping.

Now that you know the overall theme and message of your memoir and what will set it apart, you have to connect the dots of your life to that core focus.

Here are a few areas to think about specifically to help jog some of those memories in order to help you know how to write a memoir worth reading:

  • Childhood influenceshow to write a memoir memories checklist
  • Grade school
  • Teenage years
  • First job/s
  • First love/s
  • Parents
  • Siblings/family
  • Friends
  • College/post high school
  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Hopes and dreams
  • Aspirations
  • Failures
  • Successes
  • Regrets
  • Resentments

There are so many areas that have a direct influence over how you perceive life as a whole. You just have to do a little digging to spark some specific memories that can circle back to the overarching theme of your memoir.

#3 – Add others’ related stories

I know this is a book about your life but it never hurts to back up your own experiences with someone else’s – or many other people’s.

Knowing how to write a memoir involves knowing when your message will be loudest. And that’s often with additional stories from others. 

One of the most powerful connections you can make to benefit from the message of your memoir is to show your readers that it’s not just you.

Others have gone through the same situations you have and came out with the same perspective.

This one requires some extensive research (and maybe even an interview or two), but possessing the ability to be credible in your readers’ eyes is crucial. And obviously, you’ll want to make sure you’re using their experiences legally in your memoir.

You can even interview family or friends who might see an experience you share differently than you.

Adding those details will strengthen your core message.

Here’s a checklist of what your memoir should include in order to “complete” and at its best:

What a Good Memoir HasWhy
A Core MessageWithout a theme or message, a memoir is just a retelling of your life. Memoirs need to have an overarching message others can learn from.
Impactful MemoriesYour memories are what shape the message. They provide the structure of your theme - like the wood framing of a house being built.
Others' ExperiencesYour credibility is furthered if others have experienced and learned from what you did. It further solidifies your message and theme.
Honest WritingTelling the truth is what makes your memoir unique and intriguing. Filling it with lies and only bragging won't allow others to relate to you.
VulnerabilityYour readers need to connect with you on a deeper level in order to gain the most from your message. Getting vulnerable does this.
Theme ConnectionsYour memories and stories should connect to your main theme within each chapter.
Captivating WritingBeing able to use strong verbs and show (not tell) your memories creates vivid visuals that pull readers in and keep them hooked to the end.

#4 – Write truthfully

One of the hardest parts about writing a memoir is the fact that we tend to be a wee bit biased with ourselves.

*Gasp* You don’t say!

It’s true. Nobody really likes to admit their faults.

It’s one thing to recognize when you were wrong in life, it’s another to actually write it down for the world to see.

It’s hard. We want everyone to see the best version of ourselves and therefore, we leave out details or flat out lie to seem “better” in their eyes.

But that’s not what makes a good memoir.

In order to learn how to write a memoir that really touches people in deep, emotional ways, you have to learn to be honest.

#5 – Show, don’t tell

No, this doesn’t mean you have to write a picture book. That’s not what “show” means in this case.

When it comes to creating intrigue with your writing – and trust me, you want to do this, especially for a memoir – you have to write by showing, not telling.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll just give you an overview of this writing technique, but if you’re interested in mastering the ability to pull readers in, you can check out this detailed explanation.

Essentially, showing versus telling is the way in which you describe your experiences with an emphasis on emotion.

But that doesn’t mean you should write down every feeling you had during a specific time. In fact, that’s what you want to avoid.

We’ll cover this in more detail below, but here’s a great video outlining this method 

#6 – Get vulnerable

Memoirs are not a time to distance yourself from your inner feelings.

Quite the opposite, actually.

It’s time to dig deep and show the world what kind of author you are through your life experiences by getting vulnerable.

Open yourself up to the truth behind who you are today. If you shield yourself in any way, it’s going to be obvious on the pages of your memoir and therefore, not as effective.

At first, you may want to cringe while writing certain memories but after a few days, you’ll find it easier to share your truth.

And best of all? You’ll be happy you did.

#7 – Make connections with each story

You have your focus, right? Having that overarching message is going to help you tie all of your memories together in a cohesive manner.

Each story you tell – whether it’s yours or someone else’s – has to connect to your focus in order for that theme to come across to your readers.

But they don’t all have to directly relate to your focus.

Some experiences may have led you to moments of realization that then led you to other events that tie into the main message you want others to gain from reading your memoir.

Think of it this way: you want to connect the dots so by the time the reader is finished, the message comes full circle.

#8 – Talk about how everything affects your life today

Usually, writing a memoir is about looking back on your life and determining how you made it to who you are today. What events lead to the very core of who you are right now?

That means your memoir will include inside peeks into your life as you live it now.

Each chapter should bring your readers back to your present-day life and how each memory affected where you are today.how to write a memoir with personality

#9 – Put your personality into it

Nobody wants to read a stiff retelling of your life.

I’m sorry, but I’m not really. I’m here to help. And that means I have to be real with you and tell you that people want to hear your personality!

They’re reading about your life and that means they want more of you in the writing. Learning how to write a memoir includes figuring out how to put more of you into the pages.

Don’t be afraid to write how you speak. Talk to them as if you were talking to a friend.

Here are a few ways you can add more personality into your memoir:

  • Tell jokes
  • Use cuss words (if that’s how you really speak!)
  • Add your personal lingo (we all have phrases we use regularly)
  • Italicize words you emphasize when speaking
  • If you have the urge to write something you think is funny or witty, do it!
  • Write your book by talk-to-text using Google Docs or other writing software

You want your readers to gain a sense of who you are not only through your stories but through the voice in your writing as well.

#10 Write a memoir you’d want to read

How do you ensure others will like our memoir? Write it in a way that makes it an entertaining read for yourself!

This has a lot to do with putting your own personality into it but it’s also about crafting the structure of your novel in an entertaining manner, too.

Even though this is a memoir, there should still be a climax to keep readers intrigued. This would be when your life came to a head; where you struggled but was able to pull yourself out of the trenches and forge your own path.

How to Start a Memoir

We all know the very beginning of every book is important. Writing a strong introduction is everything.

Without the ability to hook readers, convincing someone to buy and read your book will be a bit harder than anticipated.

That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you learn how to start a memoir that’s captivating and intriguing.

Let’s draw those readers in!

how to write a memoir starter kit

#1 – Be relatable

Nobody wants to read a book that’s preachy or condescending.

One major mistake many make when writing a memoir is not starting it off in a way that makes the readers connect with them.

This is one of the most important aspects of your memoir.

Do you really think people will want to read about a person’s life if they can’t relate to them?

Think about when you were most invested in a book (or even a TV show or movie). What did you like most? Could you relate to the author or the characters?

Did you understand their pain and triumph and hardships?

This is typically the best way to not only create invested readers but to gain fans. When others relate to you and see themselves in your journey, they’ll want to stick around to see how it plays out.

And that means they’ll read your whole book and any others you write.

#2 – Use emotion by showing, not telling

If you want to give a play-by-play of your life with nothing more than a list of experiences you’ve gone through, that’s fine.

Just know that doing it that way won’t hook your readers and it certainly won’t keep them.

A memoir can be a powerful tool for educating others through your life journeys, but if they’re not intrigued enough to keep reading, it’ll render your memoir pointless.

And we don’t want that.

By showing and not telling, you’ll put more emotion into your writing. This technique might sound confusing but it’s actually quite easy once you learn how to do it.

Here are the basics for showing versus telling:

  • Use fewer tell words like “I heard,” “I felt,” “I smelled,” “I saw,” to bring readers closer
  • Stop explaining emotions and instead explain physical reactions of those emotions (If you want to say “I was scared,” describe your heart hammering against your chest or the sweat beading your forehead instead)
  • Describe body language in more detail
  • Use strong verbs that coincide with the emotions you’re trying to convey (writing “crashed to the floor” instead of “fell to the floor” creates more impact)

This writing method can be tricky to master but thankfully, there are countless resources to help you figure it out.

how to write a memoir with show don't tell

#3 – Make the message clear right away

What is it you’re trying to say through your memoir? Why did you want to start writing one in the first place?

Everybody has an interesting life if you look deep enough. What you have to determine is how your life experiences can aid and shape the lives of others.

Think about how that will manifest from what you’ve lived through before and make sure your readers know what it is from the start (which can also be done through a powerful book title).

How to Write a Memoir Tips from the Experienced

The best advice you can receive is from someone who’s done it before. These Self-Publishing School students (and graduates!) have first-hand knowledge when it comes to the difficulties of writing your life down on paper.

Here’s what these memoir writers want you to know.

#1 – Write from the heart

Christopher Moss, author of Hope Over Anxiety, says the best way to write your memoir is to be open about your experiences.

“Write from the heart. Show people your experience. Be as vulnerable and honest as you can. If it scares you a little, what you are writing that’s good. The reader has to feel what you are going through.”

#2 – Don’t be afraid to go with the flow

Lou A. Vendetti, who’s in the thick of writing and working toward publication of his memoir, has a few pieces of advice for you.

“Do not be afraid to deviate. If your book doesn’t follow your outline one hundred percent, then that’s okay! Don’t feel like you have to only talk about what’s in your outline. You are the author; you are the publisher, so you are the one making all of the decisions (sounds scary, huh?). In the beginning, I thought it was.”

“Don’t think that the memoir is supposed to be ‘formal.’ As an example, I use contractions in mine, which would not necessarily be used in a nonfiction book. Yes, I wanted my book to be professional, but I didn’t want to make it sound like I’m not ‘on my audience’s level.’ I wanted to keep my voice and make it as if I’m talking to my audience; as if I’m having a conversation with them.”

#3 – Review old photos and videos

Toni Crowe, author of Never a $7 Whore, says it’s best to relive your memories the best you can through photos and videos.

“My advice to new memoir writers is to take the time to review any old documents or photos that exist and to pull those memories out to examine. Doing this during the map mapping process helped me immensely.”

Telling Your Story, Your Way

The biggest takeaway here is that this is your story, it’s your life, and therefore, it should be told just as you want it to be.

There’s nothing more freeing than having the ability to articulate your life experiences in a way that will truly speak to others and potentially change their lives.

Do you want to change lives and help others through the same turmoil you’ve experienced?

By self-publishing your memoir, you’ll be rewarded for all of your honest hard work with more than just additional income.

You will be responsible for changing and shaping the lives of others.

NEXT STEPS – IF YOU’RE SERIOUS:

The work doesn’t just stop when you learn how to write a memoir.

In fact, it’s just beginning! Here are a few steps you can use to start your memoir and make some progress.

#1 – Start TODAY!

It’s NEVER too early to start working toward your dreams and goals of becoming an author. In fact, you shouldn’t waste any time!

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

SPOTS ARE LIMITED!

free training

#2 – Determine your overarching message

You already know how important this is and how to discover it. Now it’s time to actually start right now!

Grab a piece of paper (or open a Word Doc, whichever you prefer) and quickly jot down some single words or phrases of the first ideas that pop into your mind when you think about the way you live your life.

They could be as simple as these:

  • Free
  • Against society
  • Helping others
  • Self-gain
  • Unique
  • Nontraditional
  • Love wholly

I think you get the idea. These are very basic concepts of how people choose to live that may have taken some learning to get to.

What are yours?

#3 – Start your mind map [FREE DOWNLOAD!]

This is where it all starts!

You have the very core of what your memoir will encompass. Let’s start that mind map!

I’ve attached a free downloadable mind map template specifically for a memoir you can use to brainstorm the memories and stories you’ll include.

You can fill this out on your computer or print it out if you’re the type who benefits from writing details down.

Once this is done, you can start outlining your memoir!

→ FREE DOWNLOAD OF OUR MEMOIR MIND MAP TEMPLATE HERE

how to write a Memoir Mind Map template

 

 

Are you ready to start your memoir? If not, what’s stopping you from turning your life experiences into an everlasting footprint in the literary world?

how to write a book

How to Write a Book This Year: 5 Steps from a 6-Time Bestseller

I bet you’re wrong about writing a book.

Anyone who says learning how to write a book is easy has never actually tried. If they did, they’d know writing a book takes a lot more than a helpful piece of grammar software.

It takes help from someone who’s done it before – like me.

Now, I’m not necessarily saying you thought it would be easy, but I think you’ll be surprised about what the process really entails.

Because if you’ve ever tried to write a book, you know how it goes:

You stare at a blank page for 5 minutes, but it feels like hours. To combat the boredom, you stand, stretch, and brew yet another pot of coffee.

While you wait, you do some more stretches (that you don’t really need to do), look outside, and daydream about mowing the lawn.

But then, you stop. You told yourself today is the day you’ll finally start writing your book.

You take your cup of coffee back to your desk, feeling refreshed, and you’re certain the words will flow and you’ll write that perfect book your audience will love.

But first, you quickly check Facebook. You say you’ll only take five minutes…

A week later someone asks how your book is coming, and you think, “Book? What book?”

how to write a book

How to Write a Book Despite Procrastination

There are plenty of reasons why writing a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, puts most writers directly into procrastination mode. Maybe you’re just not sure how to get started. Perhaps spilling your guts onto the page for the world to see makes you want to run far away from the nearest computer (I feel you!).

Or maybe you’re insecure about the quality of your writing, and you’re afraid of getting slammed by negative review after negative review.

Or even worse: you might be worried that even if you do write your book, nobody will buy it and all your hard work will have been a waste.

Take a deep breath (but no more coffee, you’ve had enough). Remember that all authors have been exactly where you are right now. Every successful writer—from William Shakespeare to Walt Whitman to Stephen King—began by staring at a blank page.

You’re in illustrious company!

And I’m here to help. You CAN write a book—you just need to know the steps to do it. And that’s exactly what you’re about to learn.

I’m going to share the same system I’ve used to write my bestselling books in 90 days or less.

Learning how to write a book involves a system of 5 main steps:

Ready to learn how to write your first book and go from blank page to published author in just 90 days? Then let’s get started!

How to Write a Book Step 1: Think Like a Writer

Before you sit down and type a single word, it will pay off if you take some time to address a few attitude questions and adopt the right mindset.

This is one of the most frequently overlooked steps in becoming a published author, which is a big reason why so many people fail to finish their book.

Take it from me—it’s worth your time to complete these steps. They will make the rest of your book-writing experience much, much easier and more satisfying.

Write with a Purpose — Find Your “Why”

Before you open your laptop and start daydreaming about which photographer should take your best-selling author headshot, or about getting interviewed on Oprah, you need to answer one question:

Why do you want to write a book?

It’s not enough to have an inspiring book idea. Before you put pen to paper, you need to know your purpose.

I won’t lie. Writing a book is rewarding, but it requires hard work. It requires emotional labor, long nights (or early mornings), extended weekends, and facing a constant self-critical process that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Solidifying the purpose fueling your book will carry you through this difficult process.

Ok, you’re thinking—“Don’t worry, I know why I want to write a book. I want to write to feel important!” That’s an interesting thought, and feeling important may be a byproduct of becoming a self-published author.

However, feeling important isn’t the same as your purpose—your WHY. Feelings are fleeting, whereas a purpose is a deeper, intrinsic motivator which will keep you burning the midnight oil to power through Chapter 23 when the rush of feelings have long dissipated.

While thinking of your own purpose, you may consider why other published authors have taken the leap to write their own books:

  • Authority: To build credibility.
  • Money: For financial gain or business success.
  • Grow a network: To meet and connect with others in the industry.
  • Passion project: To share an empowering story for the greater good.

Authority, money, networking, and passion may resonate with you; one of those might be your purpose. Or, your purpose may be something completely independent from this list. There are no wrong or right purposes for writing a book.

Your WHY will be unique to you.

Once you’ve honed in on your WHY, let that purpose help focus your writing. By keeping your purpose at the forefront of your creative process, you’ll make the writing process quicker and smoother than you thought possible.

how to write a book steps

Get Rid of Your Excuses

You’ve figured out your WHY and articulated your unique purpose for your book. And right on cue, something is going to try to derail your progress already: your excuses.

When there’s nothing standing in your way, it’s sadly typical to start letting excuses become the obstacle to your success. It’s perfectly natural, and it’s part of being human.

But you can overcome it.

It’s worthwhile to spend a little time addressing some common excuses many of us make to prevent us from writing.

Once you’ve cleared out the cobwebs and smashed those mental roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared for the writing process ahead. Getting your mind ready is one of the first steps to producing valuable work.

Excuse #1 – You don’t know what to write.

You may not realize it, but you have a story worth telling.

In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised to find as you write that you have more than one story and you’re having a tough time narrowing down the content.

The easiest way to start writing your first book is to choose a topic you’re comfortable with. You can literally write a book about anything, so go with what you know. Start by brainstorming and let your thoughts run free.

Excuse #2 –  You don’t have enough time.

Today, we’re all busy. I get it.

But I have some good news: Writing a book takes less time than you think.

Find an hour a day you devote to something mindless—social media, video games, internet, or TV—and start writing instead.

And if you don’t have an hour, try 30 minutes. Even 5 minutes 3 times a day can be a source of massive productivity. Think about it.

The average person can type 60 words a minute. 60 words x 5 minutes = 300 words. Do that 3 times a day and you’ll produce close to 1,000 words a day.

You’ll amaze yourself at how an hour per day adds up to something productive!

Excuse #3 – Good writers spend all their free time reading. 

Think you need to read all day long to be a writer? Think again.

In fact, many prolific writers cut down on their reading—at least temporarily—in order to give themselves enough time to write.

Besides, you don’t need to be a literary connoisseur to write a great book. Your writing style and voice is your own. And the best way to discover your own natural voice is by sitting down and writing (not reading what others have written).

Excuse #4 – You’re “not an expert.”

A lot of people get tripped up on this. They think, “Oh, I’m not really an expert on ___. I can’t write about that.”

The truth is that the whole concept of “expert” is very subjective. An amateur astronomer wouldn’t seem like an expert to Stephen Hawking…but to 99% of the rest of the world, they would be an expert,

You don’t need to know everything about your topic. As long as there’s a knowledge gap between you and the reader—and as long as you’re helping to fill that gap by teaching them the things they don’t know—then you’re expert enough to write a book.

So stop worrying about “not being an expert!” If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, then you are 100% qualified to write a book about it.

Excuse #5 – Your first draft must be flawless.

A draft is a work-in-progress, and the goal is simply to get it on paper. A draft will have mistakes and that’s okay—that’s what the editing process is for.

Even experienced professional writers produce first drafts that end up covered in the red pen of an editor or numerous red changes in a document, just like the one pictured below.

how to write a book editing example

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Done is better than perfect.”

If it works for a multi-billion-dollar company, it should work for your first self-published book.

Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve already said, writing is hard work. But shedding these excuses should help get you into a positive frame of mind for the writing process.

Realize You Don’t Need to Be Perfect

The thought of writing a book causes many people to think, “I’m not a good enough writer. I need to do _____ before I start writing.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that:

  • You don’t need a creative writing class.
  • You don’t need a writing mentor or coach (though it does help).
  • You don’t need to read thousands of good books.

You only need one thing: a system for finishing your book.

There’s no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect writer. When you get down to it, the most important distinction is between authors who finish their books and authors who don’t.

Don’t worry about being perfect. Just focus on your book, and your writing will get better and better over time.

As with anything we learn, writing is a skill. It requires practice to hone over time. So let go of the idea that you’re not good enough.

This will help you make the mindset switch from “I can’t” to “Let’s get this done!”

how to write a book and finish quote

How to Write a Book Step 2: Set Yourself Up for Success

Now it’s time to start your prep work. Before you start putting any words onto the page, you need to focus on a few important preparations. Take the time to complete these steps and you’ll be setting yourself—and your new book—up for success.

Plan When You’ll Write

Without a plan, it’s too easy to let your book writing goals get pushed to the background, eventually fading into the soft mist of “someday.” Don’t let your book end up in the graveyard of dreams. In order to realize your end goal, you need actionable steps to follow.

Here are 3 things you can do to create your own customized book writing plan.

#1 – Plan writing sessions using your calendar.

Assess what’s going on in your life in the next 30 days, then block out when you can write, and when you can’t. It’s common for new writers to set unrealistic time goals, which in turn generates stress when it’s impossible to meet those arbitrary deadlines.

Avoid this and stay realistic. Thirty minutes (or even 5 minutes) spent writing is better than nothing, so resolve to make it happen and find the time.

how to write a book calendar example

Look at Laura Bennett, a Self-Publishing School student. She was working full-time, running a business, and working on her Master’s degree—busier than most people—yet she found the time to write her book Live Your Dream: How to Cut the Crap and Prioritize Your Purpose in 2 months!

If Laura could make it happen, then writing your book is certainly an attainable dream.

#2 – Choose the time of day you plan to write.

You might decide to get up early and write before the obligations of your day crowd out your writing time. But if you’d win the gold medal in the Olympic sport of snooze-button slapping, then choose a different time or make sure you get to bed earlier so you’re fresh in the morning.

If your evenings are free, but your brain is mush and you’re only good for sinking deep into the couch cushions, then choose a different time or rearrange your schedule so you aren’t so burnt out in the evenings.

Alternatively, you can grab some time on your lunch break, or sneak small blocks of time into your workday, such as when you’re transitioning between activities, or waiting for a meeting to start.

Whatever time of day is convenient for you, stick with it so that it becomes a predictable part of your day. This will establish a writing habit.

how to write a book method chandler bolt

#3 – Set a deadline for your book-writing project.

Setting an end date forces you to stay on schedule and keeps the forward momentum going. So consider giving yourself a deadline for your book.

You may be wondering: How do you choose a deadline when you have no idea how long the book-writing process will take?

One month is a good benchmark to start with. Self-Publishing School recommends writing until you hit a daily word count of 500-1,000 words. If you can commit to an hour a day, you should be able to reach that goal. After 30 days of daily writing sessions, you will have completed a 30,000-word draft.

Consistency is key. Small, consistent actions toward writing your book is how it comes to life.

If that schedule doesn’t work, then commit to a time period and a daily word count that does. It’s okay if that’s 15 minutes per day.

The ultimate goal is your rear end in the writing seat for that allocated period of time each day.

Share the end date of your first completed draft with others so you have extrinsic motivation to keep moving toward that finish line.

It’s a good idea to choose an editor for your book (before you finish your first draft) and schedule when you’ll have the completed first draft of the manuscript in that person’s hands.

That way, if you’re tempted to flake out and put off a writing session, that looming deadline can help keep you going.

Create Your Writing Environment

The physical space where you do your writing is important. If you try to write in an environment that’s too loud, too busy, or too cluttered, and you’ll find yourself getting frequently distracted.

True, some authors can write in a disheveled environment…

how to write a book in an author's office

…but I suspect that most of these authors would become even more focused and productive if they cleaned up their writing space to make it easier to focus on their writing.

perfect writing desk how to write a book

However, that’s just my opinion. The truth is that the “best” writing environment is going to be personal to you. We all work well in different settings, so with that in mind, consider these general guidelines to boost your productivity:

how to write a book in a good environment chart(To get the sound of a cafe from the comfort of home, check out Coffitivity.)

You might need to experiment to find the writing environment that allows you to focus and write freely. Bottom line: Find the writing environment that makes you comfortable and go with it. Once you find the best creative process for you, you’ll even look forward to writing!

Equip Yourself with the Right Tools

Would you try to construct a piece of furniture without a hammer, nails, or wood?

Of course not! You need the right tools for the job.

Well, the same principle applies when writing a book. And when it comes to writing, your most important tool is your choice of writing software.

Unfortunately, most people don’t really put much thought into which program they use to write their book. They just use whatever word processor they’re most familiar with.

But doing this can cause you to really miss out—especially if there’s another program out there that would work much better for you.

There are countless options out there, but most people end up using one of the “big 3” word processors:

Microsoft Word

If you just want a time-tested program that works, Word might be the program for you. It’s the most widely used word processor in the world, which means it’s highly reliable and consistent. It also provides a lot of formatting options and even has a navigation pane you can use to easily find the chapter you’re looking for.

how to write a book track changes in word

One of the biggest downsides to Word is that it’s fairly expensive as far as word processors go.

Scrivener

If you like advanced features, definitely check out Scrivener. It was created specifically for authors, and it contains all sorts of tools that are really helpful for both fiction and nonfiction authors.

For example, you can use the corkboard view to organize your book using virtual notecards:

how to write a book scrivener

The biggest downside to Scrivener? Because of all the advanced features, it has a steeper learning curve than other word processors.

Google Docs

You can think of Google Docs as sort of a “Word Lite” program that you can access online, for free. While it doesn’t boast as many features as Word or Scrivener, it’s the hands-down most convenient program out there for sharing and collaboration.

Because everything is stored online, you can access your work from anywhere. And it’s easy to share your work with others and collaborate by leaving comments in the margins:

using google docs to write a book example

The big downside to Google Docs? It lacks the more sophisticated features of Word and Scrivener.

Of course, these are only 3 options—there are many more great writing tools out there.

How to Write a Book Step 3: Actually Write Your Book

OK, we’ve got the preliminary stuff out of the way—time to sit down and actually write this thing!

This is an exciting part of the process…unfortunately, it’s also the part where many people get overwhelmed and give up.

But there’s good news: actually writing your book can be a lot easier than you think—if you have the right system. A system that guides you from your idea through your outline and all the way up to your final, polished, publication-ready draft.

Here are the most important things you need to do when writing your book.

Come Up With Your Book Idea

Before you can start typing, you need to have a topic. That might seem obvious, but it can still be a stumbling block if you don’t know what to write about.

Fortunately, there are countless book ideas that could turn into bestselling books.

I recommend brainstorming a long list of book ideas. This way you’ll have a lot of options—giving you the freedom to choose the best possible book topic.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when brainstorming book ideas:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What’s your favorite hobby?
  • What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?
  • What are people coming to you for advice on?
  • What’s a topic you know a lot about or can’t stop talking about?

These are all great ways to come up with bestselling book ideas. In a nutshell, you’re trying to find topics that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about. Because these are the topics that you’re going to do a great job writing about!

Notice that I highlighted the question, “What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?”

That’s because this is a particularly useful question for coming up with book ideas. A lot of people seem to forget that there is usually at least one topic on which they are a bona fide expert—and that’s their job!

It might not seem that exciting or special to you, because you’re so used to it, but to someone else who’s trying to learn what you already know…your job-related knowledge can seem very valuable indeed.

how to write a book through writers block

Don’t Censor Yourself

When you’re brainstorming ideas, don’t censor yourself. Just let the ideas flow. Realize that there is no such thing as a crazy idea. Anything can make a great book topic.

So don’t ever let yourself feel silly or start to judge yourself—doing so is a surefire way to stop your creativity in its tracks.

On the other hand, don’t feel bad if your topic sounds too commonplace either. Even if you’re writing about an age-old topic—like a weight loss book or a romance novel—that’s OK! The truth is that there are no “new” ideas. Everything has been written about before.

But it hasn’t been written from your unique perspective. And that’s what really matters.

Realize that a writer’s job isn’t to come up with never-before-seen ideas. Doing that is pretty much impossible in this day and age.

Instead, a writer’s job is to explore topics from their own point of view. To lend their unique spin on them.

Take a Reader-Centric Perspective

While thinking of your book topic, here’s a piece of advice that I strongly recommend you follow:

Think from your reader’s perspective (not your own).

Many people are too self-centered when they write. When I say “self-centered,” I mean that they’re thinking only of themselves: their interests, their hobbies, their passions.

Yes, it’s true that those are great topics to explore when coming up with your book topic. But during this process, you’ll need to switch from a self-centered perspective to a reader-centered perspective.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What would my reader be most interested in?
  • What would my reader most like to learn?
  • What are my reader’s biggest problems?

When you start to think this way, it becomes much easier to write your book in a way that provides immense value for the people who matter most—your readers.

how to write a book encouragement

Figure Out Which Book You Should Write First

By now you should have a long list of book topics. And you might be wondering, which topic should I write about first?

Here are a few tips to help you choose the best starting project:

  • Which one can you finish the fastest? Usually, this is the topic where you have the most experience. This is a good thing to keep in mind because the faster you can finish your book, the faster you can get it out in the world where it can earn you money and help people. (And the faster you can get started on your second book!)
  • Which one are you most likely to finish? Usually, these are the topics you are more passionate about. For your first book, I highly recommend choosing a topic that you’re really passionate about to help make sure that you’ll remain interested throughout the entire process.
  • Which one is going to make you happy? This is a little harder to define, but it might be something that strikes a chord with you. Maybe there’s a certain book topic that stands out for one reason or another. If that’s the case, then go for it! Remember, writing should make you

Now with these tips in mind, choose the topic for your very first book before proceeding to the next step.

Come Up With a Title

The most important words of your book are the ones that appear on the outside cover:

Your book title.

You don’t have to decide on your final title at this point, but your title is so important that it’s worth thinking about up-front. I recommend brainstorming ideas and letting them simmer in the back of your mind.

Here are a few tips on creating standout, marketable titles.

For a nonfiction book, your title should…

  • Include the solution to the reader’s problem
  • Use a subtitle for clarity
  • Be unforgettable

And for a fiction book, your title should…

  • Be appropriate to your genre
  • Pique the reader’s interest
  • Take its inspiration from your characters

It always helps to do a little research on Amazon. To do that, just head here and select your genre on the left-hand side of the page:

how to write a book example amazon

Then you can take a look at some of the best-selling titles in your genre. You can even sub-niche down several times, like “History > Ancient Civilizations > Mesopotamia.” Now pay attention to the titles and look for common themes or trends to use for your own book.

how to write a book amazon best sellers

Remember that you’re just starting, so you can always change the title later. But for the time being it can help to have a “working title” (a temporary title that you may change before publication).

Fill Out The BookMap

The BookMap is a free downloadable book outlining template you can use to quickly gather all the important information you’ll need for your book — fiction or nonfiction.

how to write a book outline template

Essentially, the way it works is you’ll create a mind map—sort of a brain dump with a line connecting related ideas together—on your book’s topic.

Start your BookMap by writing your intended topic in the center. From there, answer the questions and add as many related ideas as you can think of. (Again, connect related ideas with a line.) The BookMap gives you the benefits of writing in free-form and creating structure from all the connections you make.

Click here to learn more about the BookMap and download a free PDF template.

Turn Your BookMap Into an Outline

Once you’ve completely filled out your BookMap, the next step is to group all the related ideas into categories. There’s no hard and fast rule for how to do this; just combine your ideas in the way that makes the most sense to you.

One way to do this is to rewrite each idea on a fresh piece of paper, this time grouped together in related topics. Or, you could simply use different-colored highlighters to categorize your ideas with different colors.

Either way, the result is the same: when you’re done grouping your ideas, those categories will form the outline for your book—each category is a new chapter. So now you know exactly which topics to write about, and you know which points to cover in every chapter of your book.

Capture More Notes with The Sticky Note Method

You can use this method instead of the BookMap, or as a supplement to it.

For about a week, carry around sticky notes and write down anything and everything that crosses your mind regarding your possible book topics.

When the week is up, organize all your sticky notes into sections and themes. Then, organize these themes into the patterns that would make sense in the context of chapters of your book. You can then elaborate in areas where you notice missing pieces to the puzzle, and use all of the material you’ve gathered and organized to create an outline.

This method may be helpful if you’re struggling with the notion of committing to writing a whole book since it lets you break down the process into manageable pieces. The ultimate outcome of using this method is deeper thinking, clarity, and concise organization of thoughts and patterns.

how to write your book sticky note example

Now Write Your Book…One Chapter at a Time

You now have a chapter-by-chapter outline for your book. The only thing left to do…is to actually sit down and write it!

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to write your book. But there are some ways that are easier, faster, and more successful than others.

And in my experience, there’s one writing method that works better than any other. Here’s how it works:

  • Complete a mini-BookMap for that chapter, brainstorming everything you know about this topic. (10 minutes.)
  • Organize your ideas and turn that BookMap into an outline. (10 minutes.)
  • Write or speak the chapter by following the outline you just created. (45-60 minutes.)
  • Repeat this process, chapter by chapter, until your book is completed.

Steps 1 & 2 should be familiar by now—they’re the same steps you followed to create your overall book outline. You just repeat those steps on a smaller scale for each chapter.

Then in step 3, you have a choice: you can type out your chapter on a computer, or you can use a recording device & transcription service to dictate your chapter.

If you like the idea of dictating your book, rather than typing it out, here’s how to do it.

How to Speak Your Book

This method works well if you’re a strong speaker and you prefer speaking to writing. The ultimate outcome is that you can create your book draft as quickly as possible, with no actual “writing” on your part. Cool, huh?

Once your chapter outline is complete, the next steps are:

  • Speak your first draft aloud into a recording app or device such as Voice Memos or Audacity.
  • Get that audio file transcribed using a transcription service like Rev.
  • Read through the transcription and revise/polish it up.

As I mentioned, one of the benefits of this method is its speed. Just how fast can you write a first draft using speech dictation?

Well, if the average book is 15,000-25,000 words long, and if the average person speaks at about 150 words/minute, then you can easily speak your entire book in approximately 2-3 hours.

Of course, your spoken & transcribed book will need some polishing and revision to get it publication-ready. But it’s still the fastest way of writing a book I’ve ever come across.

how to write a book example quote

Speed Up Your Writing

Writing faster means getting to publication—and to profits—that much sooner.

Try these pro tips to maximize your daily word count:

  • Flex your writing muscles each day. The more you work, the more efficient you’ll get. Create your writing routine and stick to it.
  • If you get stuck on a particular section and stop making progress, find a different part of the book that appeals to you today and write that section instead.
  • Planning and research can be necessary—or a method of procrastination. Limit your prep work to a reasonable timeframe so it won’t stop you from writing. Use a timer if it helps you stay on track.
  • An accountability partner can keep you on track. Set up weekly meetings to review work and cheer each other on.

(By the way, I’m hosting a workshop that will take a deep dive on this method and more called, “How to Launch a Book in 90 Days!” Spots tend to fill up quickly, so learn more and join us here!)

how write a book webinar

How to Write a Book Step 4: Avoid Potholes Along the Way

If you’ve been following along with steps 1-3, then you’re in the process of writing your book. You’re working from a solid outline, which means you know exactly what to write in every single chapter.

So nothing could possibly go wrong…right?

Unfortunately, no. Even when you have a solid plan, a proven system, and a detailed outline, you can still get tripped up by some of these sneaky book writing roadblocks. Luckily, I’ve got some tips to help you overcome the most common book writing problems.

How to Beat Writer’s Block

Writer’s block can rear its ugly head in many ways. For some, being blocked means no words at all, while for others, it means trying to nail down a functional draft in the midst of a tornado of swirling ideas.

Most of the time, writer’s block is a symptom of a paralyzing fear of others’ opinions.

The harsh reality is, if you write, at some point you’ll be on a first-name basis with a bout of the block. The only way to deal with it is to beat it.

Here are 8 methods I’ve found personally useful when fighting writer’s block:

  1. Circle back to your BookMap or outline and see if there’s useful info that sparks fresh inspiration. Sometimes it just takes looking back at the bigger picture to remind you where you’re going with your draft.
  2. Change up the physical way you’re writing; sometimes a simple shift can boost creativity. If you use a laptop, put pen to pad. Try some new music, a new location, or new beverage to sip at your desk.
  3. If you find you start writing slowly and warm up as time goes on, allow adequate time during your writing sessions to get the creative juices flowing.
  4. Review what you wrote yesterday to refresh your memory.
  5. Talk it out. Sometimes a quick conversation with yourself is enough to work through writer’s block. Or call a friend and bounce some ideas off them if you’re truly stuck.
  6. Remember that what you’re writing doesn’t need to be perfect—you’re writing a first draft. If you have a case of perfectionist syndrome, tell yourself it’s okay to write something you’ll think is terrible. Making something good is what second drafts and the editing process is for. Always remember: Done is better than perfect.
  7. Go for a walk. You might be surprised at how a walk outside, or a brief bit of exercise, helps refresh and recharge your creative juices.
  8. Read another author who has a style you like. Read their book for 10 minutes and then start typing, holding their voice in your head.

Don’t Edit While You Write

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You sit down to write and you bang out a page or two. Then you stop and reread what you just wrote. And instead of continuing, you go back and start editing those first few pages of writing. 

In your mind, you’re just fixing up your work. You want everything to be just right before you continue on ahead.

But in reality, you’ve just stopped all your forward progress. You spend the next hour trying to make those pages PERFECT…and when perfect doesn’t happen, you get frustrated and stop writing.

Usually, when this sort of thing happens, it becomes very difficult to do any more writing. Why? Because writing and editing use different parts of your brains—and when you allow yourself to slip into a more critical/judgmental frame of mind, it becomes almost impossible to start creating again.

That’s why, even though editing is an important skill, you need to resist the urge to edit your work while you’re still writing.

Don’t start editing your book until AFTER you’ve already created the entire first draft.

Format Your Book Properly

Few things are more irritating than having to go back through your entire book to fix the formatting.

The take-home lesson? Think about how you want to format your book before you write it, and then be consistent. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.

And take the time to figure out how to format your book for publication. For example, did you realize that fiction and nonfiction books typically use different indentation styles?

Nonfiction books tend to use block paragraphs, like this:

book formatting example how to write a book

Whereas fiction books use indentation instead:

Fiction book formatting example how to write a book

Here are a few more book formatting tips:

  • Avoid using hard indents. (Don’t hit “tab” at the beginning of a new paragraph; instead, change the paragraph settings to automatically give each paragraph the indentation you want.)
  • Only use one space after a period. (Using 2 spaces was necessary with typewriters, but not with computers.)
  • If you want to create a page break, do not hit “Enter” repeatedly until you reach the next page. Instead, use the “Page break” function. This is the only way to ensure that your page break will work even after people resize your book on their Kindle.

Keep Going, & Don’t Stop—You’re Almost There!

Now you know not only how to get started writing your book, but how to complete your book project in a mere 90 days!

Remember to keep your WHY at the forefront of your mind, and you’ll be able to crush any and all obstacles that get in your way. If any of the common challenges or obstacles we’ve mentioned rear their ugly head, you’ll know how to deal with them.

With just a little bit of time and a lot of determination, you are on your way to officially calling yourself an author.

How to Write a Book Step 5: Launch Your Book Successfully

By this point, your book is completed—congratulations! You’ve done something that most people will never do.

You’ve written a book.

But you’re not done yet. Not quite. Because you still need to launch your book in a way that sets it up for success; in a way that maximizes your readers, your income, and your influence.

Unfortunately, most people who succeed in writing a book never get this whole “launch” thing figured out. They throw their book up on Amazon without really having a plan, and as a result, they get very few sales, make almost no money, and are frustrated at the lack of response to their work.

It’s true that self-publishing your book on Amazon is a great way to go. But you can’t simply publish your book and expect people to find it. Instead, you need to dedicate some time to mastering the publishing and marketing processes on Amazon to sell more books. This is the only way to make sure that your book makes its way into the hands of the people who will benefit from reading your words.

If you follow this simple launch plan, you can rest assured that your book will come out with a bang and will generate steady sales right out of the gate and for years to come.

Get a Good Cover

We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But in reality, people do exactly that—all the time. And that’s why, if you want your book to sell, your book cover is important.

Really, really important.

And a good book cover does 2 things:

  • It grabs people’s attention.
  • It instantly tells people what the book is about.

Here are a few examples from some of my own books:

good book cover example how to write a book chandler

Notice a couple things. First of all, it’s orange—which helps it to stand out and grab attention. Second, it’s super-clear what the book is about. The title is in the upper third of the book in large print, so you can read it even in a thumbnail.

Here’s another:

good book cover example how to write a book chandler

Both covers were designed using the same basic principles. They’re simple, bold covers that stand out. They also have subtitles that clarify exactly what the book is about.

Now this style of cover works great for my niche, but it won’t necessarily work for every type of book. For example, it would make a terrible cover for a romance novel!

Why? Well, in short, it doesn’t look like a romance novel. Remember that part of a cover’s job is to tell people what the book is about. And in many genres of fiction and nonfiction, readers have come to expect a certain type of book cover.

In order to clearly communicate what your book is about to your ideal readers, you need it to fit in with their expectations—while also standing out enough to grab their attention. This is another reason why it pays to head over to the Amazon bestselling books list and study some of the most successful books in your genre.

What do those covers look like? Do they share a similar layout? Color scheme? Font style?

For example, if you were writing a romance novel, you would want to study these covers:

how to write a book amazon example cover

Find out what the most successful books in your genre look like, then imitate that look—but change it up just enough so that it stands out and grabs your readers’ attention.

Build a Launch Team

The real key to a successful book launch is building and leveraging a launch team.

So what is a launch team?

In a nutshell, your launch team is a small team of people who are supporting your book. They could be friends, family, associates, online affiliates—anyone.

At first, your launch team might be limited to your immediate friends & family. That’s OK! Launch your book with their help, and work on continually building your launch team every chance you get.

When you build a launch team, you need to make 2 things clear for everyone:

  • What are they agreeing to do for you?
  • What are they getting in return?

Step 1 is pretty simple: you want them to read your book, leave a review, and share it with their own friends and family.

This is how you spread the word about a brand-new book when you don’t have an email list or a social media following.

Step 2 can vary from person to person. What do your friends & family get in return for helping you? In many cases, they get things like:

  • A free copy of your book
  • Their name mentioned in the “Acknowledgements” part of your book
  • The chance to be part of something inspiring
  • The personal satisfaction of helping to create something meaningful

As your launch team grows bigger, you might need to offer more than that. For example, maybe another person in your niche agrees to promote your new book to their email list—but in exchange, they want a percentage of your profit.

(This is called affiliate marketing, and it’s a great way to grow your audience and your revenue while letting somebody else do the marketing for you.)

But don’t worry about that for now. Just reach out to anyone you know who would be willing to support your first book launch and ask for their help.

Get Ongoing Reviews

If there’s one thing we know about the Amazon algorithm, it’s this:

It loves reviews.

If you want your book to show up in search results and as a “Recommended” book when people are looking at similar products, you need to continue generating ongoing reviews to keep the algorithm happy.

When you do, your book will start to show up at the top of Amazon results:

how to write a book amazon example review

Reviews are a fantastic form of social proof. They’re a credibility sign that lots of people have read your book and loved it—and that makes other people more likely to want to read it, too.

But you have to be careful about how you go about trying to get Amazon reviews. For example, you can get in big trouble if you try to pay for reviews, swap reviews with other authors, or offer free gifts in exchange for reviews.

You can solicit reviews, but they cannot be “incentivized” reviews.

So how can you generate more reviews without offering people something in return? Well, I’ve discovered a few tips that work incredibly well. Click here to learn my 8-step process for generating more Amazon reviews.

Get Help From a Mentor Who’s Done It Before

I’d like to leave you with one final message:

The best way to learn how to write a bestselling book is to get help from somebody who’s been there before.

People often ask me how I was able to make so much money and sell so many copies of my very first book. And I always tell them the same thing:

Because I sought out a mentor. Someone to teach me a proven book-writing process that had been tried and tested. A book-writing system that was almost guaranteed to work, as long as I followed it properly.

Well, that’s the real secret to my success as an author. I sought out the help I needed to give my very first book a major head-start.

how to write a book tips quote

My Final Tip

And now I’m sharing the opportunity to learn from someone who’s mastered writing and self-publishing books with you.To learn from a mentor who can help you achieve your dream of writing and publishing your very first book.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

SPOTS ARE LIMITED!

free training

To get started, click here to register for a free workshop called: Want to Launch a Bestseller in 90 Days?

If you want to finish your book, you need a roadmap. That’s why I’m sharing some of the best strategies and tricks other bestselling authors paid thousands of dollars to get — yours FREE.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The EXACT blueprint to FINALLY cross “write a book” off your bucket list — in just 90 days
  • The Bestselling Book Launch Blueprint behind dozens of bestsellers
  • Case studies of bestselling authors who made $1,287, $5,500, even $12,424.03 from their first book
  • And much more!

→ Get FREE behind-the-scenes access now »

Are you ready to write your book? What are some things that you’re still struggling with?

writing prompts

200+ Free Writing Prompts: Nonfiction Book Ideas for Real Writers

I bet I know you.

You’re the type of person who has dreamt of writing a book for however many years, only held back by the lack of ideas – or good ideas, rather.

Or maybe you’re the type who has tons of ideas but aren’t sure if they’re worth pursuing.

It’s hard. I get it. A book is a big commitment and one you might actually want to go through with. But without having a clear idea of what to write about, that dream can seem too far out of reach.

But I’m telling you, it’s not.

In fact, using writing prompts can help you free your mind from its current constraints so you can explore ideas you might not have otherwise thought of yourself – in addition to a number of other benefits.

Writing prompts

Why Use Writing Prompts for Book Ideas

There are some writing snobs out there who say writing prompts are for people who aren’t “real” writers.

But the thing is: all books were prompted by something.

Whether it was a song or conversation had with a stranger or someone crossing the street late at night, an outside source prompted the idea in the first place.

Every book idea ever written is because something made a writer pause and think about it.

That’s exactly how prompts work.

All writing prompts do is reduce the amount of time it takes you to get that one idea that you want to take on in full.

That’s why we’ve created a list of over 200+ nonfiction writing prompts for you to use in order to spark something meaningful in you that you can download below!

Nonfiction Writing Prompts for Good Book Ideas

It’s one thing to use a writing prompt, it’s another to ensure that idea is actually a good one. We put together a list of tried-and-true writing prompts that can help you understand what’s most important to you and what you should pursue.

While reading these, note which ones cause you to pause and think – if only for a moment longer than the rest.

Those are the ideas to ponder and create a mind map for.

Here are a few writing prompts for a number of different broader categories that have proven to be prosperous.

Writing Prompts about Morals and Values

This is one of the top book ideas right now. Writing about your personal beliefs, how you came to them, and how they steer your life is something almost everyone can relate to.

And in a time where morality is being questioned time and time again by the media, it’s the best time to write on this topic.

Here are some writing prompts to get you thinking about how you can take this idea a step further.

  1. Write about a time when you were wrong and didn’t realize it for maybe years.
  2. Write about morals and how one discovers what truly matters to them.
  3. Write about the biggest value in your life.
  4. Write about the biggest problems in the world and how it impacts us every day.
  5. Write about problems in the world nobody is paying attention to.
  6. Write about a time your morals were compromised and how it affected your life.
  7. Write about a time your values were challenged and you had to face it.
  8. Write about the difference between a value and a moral.
  9. Write about societal values that actually negatively impact our lives.
  10. Write about morals that have inadvertently negative impacts.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Be honest but don’t force your ideas on someone else
  • Use research and facts to back up your statements
  • Give real-life accounts of your experiences
  • Avoid adopting a “know-it-all” voice

Writing Prompts about Health and Wellness

This is another book topic that has seen a rise in sales and engagement over the past few years. Society is starting to focus on health and well-being more so than many other important life ventures and now is the time to write about it!

These are some great wellness writing prompts to get your mind moving in the right direction.

  1. Write about your struggle with an addiction of some kind and how you overcame it.
  2. Write about your journey to become healthy.
  3. Write about what being healthy inside and out means to you.
  4. Write about how others can overcome unhealthy habits.
  5. Write about the importance of mental health and wellness.
  6. Write about how to form healthy habits.
  7. Write about how to find the best exercise type for your needs.
  8. Write about the idea of self-care and what it means to you.
  9. Write about how to find health through personal reflection.
  10. Write about the technicalities of being “healthy.”

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Always use facts and research with something as sensitive as health
  • Talk about what has worked for you personally and why
  • Feature advice from experts in the field
  • Include actionable steps others can learn from

choosing a writing prompt

Writing Prompts about Love, Sex, and Relationships

This can be a tricky topic to write about because love is different for everyone.

Each relationship has different needs and trying to tell someone what their relationship needs can often cause issues if it’s not actually what their specific relationship can benefit from.

That being said, keeping your message broad enough to impact a lot of people while also hitting specific key points can make it easier.

Here are some writing prompts revolving around relationships.

  1. Tell a story about how you see love.
  2. Write about sex and its importance in a relationship.
  3. Write about how to enjoy sex in every phase of life.
  4. Write about your idea of a successful relationship.
  5. Write about what it really takes to have a successful relationship.
  6. Write about how your friendships play a part in your relationships.
  7. Write about how self-doubt can affect your search for love.
  8. Write about how to love someone else in a way they need.
  9. Write about how to find what you truly enjoy in bed.
  10. Write about becoming open-minded with sex.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Never assume every single person loves and wants love the same way
  • Tell personal, real-life stories to build relatability
  • Keep your advice open-ended and always encourage communication

Writing Prompts about Childhood and Family

We all had a childhood and we all have a family – even if we’ve decided to adopt friends to be a part of our family.

That means everyone can relate to being a child and having a family.

That being said, it’s hard to decide on which direction you can take when writing about your childhood or family.

These are some writing prompts to help you pinpoint an angle.

  1. Write to your parents about all they’ve taught you about life, love, and happiness.
  2. Write to your family about what they mean to you.
  3. Write about parenthood and how it’s changed you.
  4. Write about your parents and what they taught you.
  5. Write about what your parents didn’t teach you and how it affected your life.
  6. Write about how not having parents impacted your life.
  7. Write about your childhood and how it shaped you.
  8. Write about what the definition of family truly means to you.
  9. Write about finding family in the least expected places.
  10. Write about discovering who you are within your family.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Family can be a sensitive subject so avoid hard “facts” about “all” families
  • Make sure to include details about differences
  • Tell stories others can easily relate to at the beginning

books from writing prompts

Writing Prompts about Happiness

Happiness is very subjective. We all have very different ideas about what true happiness is and how it comes about.

What you have to remember, though, is that everybody wants to be happy.

That means you have a very large audience ready to absorb your expertise and these writing prompts can help you identify what to write about.

  1. Write about the idea of wants versus needs in life.
  2. Write about work and finding happiness in your career.
  3. Write about not being happy in your career and how to conquer it.
  4. Write about finding success in your career.
  5. Write about finding success in every aspect of your life.
  6. Write about building a successful love life, family life, and career.
  7. Write about balancing a career and family life.
  8. Write about being open-minded in life.
  9. Write about what rewards you can reap from being kind.
  10. Write about what you can gain from being open-minded in every aspect of life.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Remember that your happiness is not what makes everyone else happy
  • Focus on helping others find what makes them happy
  • Talk about times you were unhappy frequently to drive the point home

Writing Prompts about Self-Esteem and Confidence

No matter who you are, you’ll experience moments of self-doubt and a lack of confidence.

Yes, even Beyonce has felt down about herself occasionally (though probably not often!).

The point is, writing about a lack of self-esteem and how to gain it is something everyone has experienced and therefore, everyone can relate to.

These writing prompts will help you pinpoint a specific angle to take when helping others find confidence.

  1. Write about accepting who you truly are and how it can change your life.
  2. Write about how to ignore societal expectations when they clash with who you are.
  3. Write about how to change your overall outlook to be more positive.
  4. Write about what it’s like to go from disliking yourself to truly loving yourself.
  5. Write about what it truly means to have complete confidence in yourself.
  6. Write about how to conquer inner demons in order to love yourself.
  7. Write about your journey to accepting your flaws and seeing them as strengths.
  8. Write about daily habits that will lead to overall confidence.
  9. Write about how bettering your health can increase the way you view yourself.
  10. Write about how physical appearance actually has little to do with confidence.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Be honest, real, and raw when writing about your experiences
  • Offer different solutions even if they didn’t work for you personally
  • Interview a psychology expert in order to further the book’s credibility

Writing Prompts about Faith

Faith is a very personal journey for people. Whether you’ve been a lifelong believer or have recently stumbled into something that has changed your life, others have been there.

And they’ll want to read about it.

These are some of the topics you can focus on when writing about your faith.

  1. Write about your faith and how you discovered its meaning.
  2. Write about how your faith changed your life.
  3. Write about how you learned to love yourself through your faith.
  4. Write about your journey from not having any faith to where you are now.
  5. Write a message to anybody who doesn’t think they have something to believe in.
  6. Write a book to the person who helped you discover your faith.
  7. Write about how your faith shapes your family.
  8. Write about overcoming questioning your faith.
  9. Write about the unexpected realities of having strong faith.
  10. Write about how your faith can steer your career and life.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • This is a great time to be open and specific about your beliefs
  • Avoid shaming others in an attempt to get your message across
  • Tell deeply personal stories so others can relate

writing prompts books

Writing Prompts about Personal Journeys

Everyone has a personal journey. No matter what you’ve been through, there is a lesson hidden within it.

You can use these writing prompts to not only discover more about yourself, but perhaps light the way for others to see and understand as well.

  1. Write about a moment in your life that changed the way you saw the world.
  2. Don’t censor yourself and write about what you believe the meaning of life is.
  3. Write about the biggest struggle you’ve faced in life.
  4. Write about your journey to finding yourself and all you’ve learned.
  5. Write about life lessons you believe everyone should learn.
  6. Write about how you got to where you are in life and where you’ll go from here.
  7. Write about a tragedy you, unfortunately, lived through and how it has shaped you.
  8. Write about an internal struggle of yours and how you were able to solve it.
  9. Write about your pet/s and what they mean to you.
  10. Write about how you were able to accomplish so much by a young age.

Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:

  • Don’t censor yourself
  • Talk to a therapist or psychologist to better understand your own journey
  • Bring your real-life experiences into play

Use These Writing Prompts to Start Your Book!

If any of these writing prompts caught your eye, you might just be ready to take the next step toward becoming an author!

But it’s not that simple.

There’s a lot that has to go down before the writing and publishing process and I’m here to help point you in the right direction.

If you’re truly serious about getting your book out there and sharing your knowledge and experience with the world, here’s what you can do next.

#1 – Choose a writing prompt

If you haven’t already, make sure to pick a prompt to expand on. If you didn’t find anything in the list above, make sure to download the full writing prompts list of over 200 unique ideas to get your mind rolling!

Click right here to download your prompts!

#2 – Watch your free training!

Once you have an idea you’re comfortable with expanding on, you have to learn how to take that idea and form it into an actual book.

For that, we created this 100% free, comprehensive guide detailing how you can write and publish a book all within 90 days.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity because without this training, you’ll waste time. And time, as you know, is very valuable.

Click right here to sign up and get started!

writing prompts training

#3 – Start your mindmap and outline

If you’ve committed to steps 1 and 2, you’re ready to start the process of turning your idea into an actual book.

Take a look at this blog post right here. It will show you how to create a book outline from your mindmap in order to have a template to work from when actually writing your book.

 

Have you written a book already? Comment below how you came up with your book idea or any other writing prompts you can think of!

Book Outline: 11 Ways to Outline Your Book self-publishingschool book outline

Book Outline: How to Outline A Book with 11 Key Steps for Success

Outlining.

That word may conjure images of 7th Grade English, scribbling at your desk in frustration while a stern teacher looks over your shoulder as you try to learn how to outline.

A book outline can be almost as intimidating as that teacher’s blatant glare.

Many of us learned how to outline in middle school, and it’s a skill we haven’t revisited since our braces came off and the acne faded away. But have no fear! You’re a grown-up now, and this project isn’t being graded, which means learning how to outline a book can (and will!) be pain-free, especially with the right help.

You have free reign to structure your book outline to benefit your writing process—whether that’s a spaghetti-on-the-wall approach or a color-coded Excel spreadsheet.

Us at Self-Publishing School? We love this tried-and-true Mindmap to Outline procedure

book outline explanation

What is a Book Outline?

It’s easy to see this term and wonder exactly what that means. Is it a bullet list of topics for your book? Is it a chapter by chapter overview written in paragraphs?

No matter how you write an outline, the purpose is the same.

A book outline is a roadmap for your story.

It tells you where you need to go and when. Think of it as a GPS of sorts but instead of giving you driving directions, your outline will give you writing directions.

 

Why Should I Write a Book Outline?

No matter which type of book outline you choose, planning before you write has many benefits. It’s not just about getting your thoughts on the paper, either. It’s about so much more than the actual writing.

Outlines can do a number of things for you:

You don’t need to spend huge amounts of time learning how to outline a book, but some (mostly painless!) prep before writing will be time well-spent since you won’t be spinning your wheels by staring at the blank screen of death.

When you start with a plan, you’ll unconsciously make connections and think about your draft, even when you’re not actively writing. Mentally writing in the shower is one of the perks of outlining, because it will get your thoughts percolating. Be sure to keep paper and pens scattered about so you can capture your brilliance the minute it bubbles up, rather than letting all those ideas fade away.

Once you have a plan to write your book in outline form, you’ll be better able to put these thoughts to paper and compose your chapters when you do sit down to write.

This means a finished book in less time!

And I have some good news: there’s no “right” way to outline. Each writer will have their own process that’s personal to them. Keep reading for tips on how to outline different ways. If one of these exact methods doesn’t strike a chord with you, you can combine methods to create your own way that works best for your unique book.

book outline mindmap example

Mindmap by Sonia Weyers

Are you writing a fiction or non-fiction book? Depending on which you’re working on, the outlining process may look be different.

Thankfully, there are plenty of relevant tips you can apply in the section about outlining a non-fiction book. Likewise, even if you’re writing non-fiction, the section on how to write a fiction outline can help spark some ideas for your process, so we recommend authors of all types of books read the full list:

How to Write a Nonfiction Book Outline

Most non-fiction authors find outlines useful due to the nature of their books. Generally, works of non-fiction require research and citation of sources (although many novels require their own research!).

An outline can help organize your research so it doesn’t overwhelm you, plus your outline will help you create the best structure for your finished book. These are some of the beneficial methods we recommend for you.

#1 – Mindmap + Book Outline

This is the main method of outlining that we teach in Self-Publishing School. The mindmap method requires you to create a brain dump based on your book’s topic. Write your topic in the center of a piece of paper, then use lines and words to draw as many connections as you can.

It doesn’t need to make perfect sense from the get-go—the goal is free-form thinking to get all of your ideas out of your head and onto the page.

You’ll start to notice connections between different categories of information. This makes it easier to spot the relevant “book-worthy” ideas. Then you can pluck those ideas out of your mindmap and put them into a cohesive book outline.

We also recommend doing a mindmap for each chapter you select from your original mindmap. It will help you structure your entire book chapter by chapter.

Fun, and so easy—we told you this would be (mostly) painless!

book outline mindmap example

Mindmap by Camille Nelson

At Self-Publishing School, we encourage students to make a mess with their mindmap. Regardless of what your mind map looks like in the end, it is an essential element to your book writing process.

This mind map will be the jumping off point for you to begin your outline. In this brief video, Chandler explains how to turn your mindmap into an outline:

#2 – Simple Book Outline

A simple book outline is just as it sounds; keep it basic and brief. Start with the title. Don’t get too hung up on the perfect title at this stage of the process; you just want to come up with a good-for-now placeholder.

You can always change the title later—in fact, you probably will—but starting with some kind of title gives you a better idea of where you want your book to go. Plus, it jump-starts the creative process.

Next, you’ll list all of the key points that cover your book’s overall theme and message. You’ll use these key points to generate your notes. Later, you’ll flesh out these notes to draft your book chapters.

#3 – Chapter-by-Chapter Book Outline

Your chapter-by-chapter book outline is a pumped-up version of the simple book outline. To get started, first create a complete chapter list. With each chapter listed as a heading, you’ll later add material or shift chapters around as the draft evolves.

Create a working title for each chapter, and list them in a logical order. After that, you’ll fill in the key points of each chapter. Finally, you’ll link your resources as they would appear in each chapter, including books, interviews, and Web links.

Here’s a great example of a chapter-by-chapter nonfiction outline completed with bullet lists.

nonfiction outline example

#4 – Sketch Your Book Outline

Perhaps you find the idea of a written outline confining. That’s OK — there’s another option which might appeal to your artistic side. Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, wrote about how sketching your ideas can simplify complex thoughts.

To create this type of book outline, hand-draw your book concept in sequential order. This may be as simple or as elaborate as you desire. Feel free to use a Bic pen and a spiral notebook, or take it to the next level with a color medium on canvas-sized paper.

The great thing about drawing your book is that you can later use the images as promotional and marketing material!

#5 – Book Outline With Scrivener

If you like being uber-organized, then the writing software Scrivener might appeal to you. Their book outline program allows you to upload your research, organize it by moving it around, and filing it into folders.

The program does have a fairly extensive learning curve, which can be a major downside—especially if you tend to procrastinate and really want to get your book published quickly. However, some writers say it revolutionized their organizational process for longer works.

You can learn more about the program and its uses here or check out this tutorial for an overview.

How to Outline a Novel in 6 Ways

While you can incorporate the book outlining tips we shared in the non-fiction section above, creating an outline for your novel will be inherently different from creating a non-fiction outline. Your novel outline will require character development, the evolution of plot points, and resolution of conflict.

While the methods may be different, the goal is the same—organization and pre-planning so that you can write a great, cohesive book much faster.

#1 – Basic Document

Your goal with the Basic Document format is to use a Word or Excel table to give structure to your theme. Create a table and organize and summarize your key points and plot. You’ll then create a separate section for characters and themes, and an additional section with relevant research. 

book outline: how to outline your book

Post-It wall by Wendy Van de Poll

#2 – Post-It Wall

This is for the creative mind, and another method we teach in Self-Publishing School. All you need is a blank wall and a box of Post-It notes. Carry a pad of Post-Its with you wherever you go, and doodle your book on the fly.

Write your ideas and inspiration on your Post-Its when the mood strikes you.

Next, affix the Post-Its containing words, snippets, doodles, and phrases to the wall. After a week of this exercise, organize these words into novel outline form. Voila—simple, effective, creative!

#3 – The Snowflake Method

The Snowflake Method was created by fiction writing coach Randy Ingermanson based on the notion, “Good fiction doesn’t just happen. It’s designed.”

The process of the snowflake method focuses on starting small, then expanding. For example, you’d start with one line from your book, then add a paragraph, then add a chapter.

Since the snowflake method is fairly detailed and based on scientific theory, Randy’s article is worth a read so you can review the detailed steps involved in this outlining method.

book outline snowflake method

#4 – The Skeletal Outline

If you’ve ever written a term paper or thesis, then you’re probably familiar with the skeletal outline. You’ll lay out your narrative points in the order they’ll appear in your story, which involves a broad 7-step story arch.

This gives you a big picture idea of the flow of your story, so you can adjust your story and add subplots for maximum impact.

#5 – Novel Outline Template

Why reinvent the wheel? If you’re impatient to jump right into the fun part—writing!—or you aren’t sure exactly how to format your novel outline, then a pre-formatted template outline might be your saving grace.

A fill-in-the-blank novel outline can help you develop your plot, characters, and ideas without getting bogged down with the notion of striving for “proper” outline form.

#6 – The Reverse Outline

Sometimes looking at the problem from a different angle can give you the answer to the question. The same applies to outlining. Reverse outlining is exactly what it sounds like: Write down how your novel ends. Then once you know the ending, outline backward to get to that happy (Or sad? You’re the author!) ending.

For more ideas and creatives ways to jump-start your novel outline, check out How to Write a Novel Outline.

Here’s the takeaway: No matter which option you choose, ultimately, you’ll write faster and better with a book outline. If one way doesn’t work well for you, then experiment and try another. Remember, your goal is a finished manuscript, not the gold medal for “Most Perfect Book Outline.”

Discover what works best for you and you’ll be one step closer to a finished book.

Get Started on Your Outline By Signing Up for Your FREE Training!

Make sure to take advantage of this free training. It will take you through everything you need to go from blank page to published author in as little as 90 days! You’ll have your outline started before your training is even finished.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

SPOTS ARE LIMITED!

free training

 

Are you an outliner? What’s the best method you’ve used and how did it help you the most?

How to Write a Short Story: 7 Actionable Steps for Impactful Short Stories

You probably don’t think short stories are very hard to write.

In fact, you might be the type who assumes short stories are even easier because, well…they’re short.

But that’s just not the case – and I’ll tell you why in just a minute.

But first, let’s talk about why any and all writers should learn how to craft solid, captivating short stories, even if your end goal is to write full-length novels or even nonfiction.

how to write a short story

Why All Writers Should Learn How to Write a Short Story Well

There’s a lot more to writing short stories than you may think. Just because they’re shorter in length doesn’t mean it takes any less skill to execute a good one.

In fact, being able to tell a full story in such a short amount of time arguably takes more skill than writing a full-length novel or nonfiction book.

That being said, why is it beneficial for all writers to learn how to write a short story?

#1 – You learn the skill of showing

When you only have a few pages to hook readers, paint a clear picture of the character, and tell a story, you end up mastering the skill of showing instead of telling.

The reason for this is because, in order to accomplish a successful and good short story, showing is a major part of that.

It’s far too difficult to write a great short story without showing the details and using strong verbs to paint a clear image of your character’s life.

Those skills will transfer into anything you write, automatically making it that much better.

 

#2 – You’ll strengthen individual chapters

No matter if you’re a fiction writer or if you prefer nonfiction, the idea here is the same.

A chapter is basically a short story that’s a part of a bigger whole. The same skills you apply to write a great short story will also help you write stronger chapters.

Why is writing good chapters important if there’s a whole book available for someone to read?

Because it hooks readers and keeps them turning that page.

And when readers look back on an entire book filled with incredible chapters, the entire book as a whole will be seen as being that much better.

Hello, 5-star reviews!

#3 – It makes the story sections of your nonfiction book more captivating

Every nonfiction book has portions where stories must be told in order to get the point across.

This is what allows people to relate to you as an author, which pulls them in deeper and makes the core message of your book resonate with them more.

But if those stories are weak, not well-written, and lackluster, it’s unlikely someone will enjoy them as much.

It’s also likely that your message will get lost because the book doesn’t carry the same impact.

How do Short Stories Differ from Others?

You already know that short stories are…shorter than your average novel but do they have any other difference?

Here’s a chart detailing the main differences between short stories, novels, novellas, and nonfiction works.

Writing TypeAverage Word CountMain Writing Focus
Short Storiesunder 7,500 words- Imagery
- Exposition
- Theme/Message
Novels40,000 +- Character development
- Plot
- Theme/Message
Novellas17,500 - 40,000- Character development
- Plots
- Theme/Message
Nonfiction 20,000 - 70,000 - Theme/Message
- Supporting stories
- Personal journey

As you can see, the main difference is length, but that’s not all. When you write a short story, you’re only writing a very impactful snippet of your character’s otherwise full life.

You don’t have to unpack your entire character’s life story in a few hundred words in order to write a great short story.

How to Write a Short Story

If you’re ready to tackle this avenue of creative writing or you just want to learn how to write a short story to strengthen the overall quality of your book, here’s how you can do that.

#1 – Know your character

In order for a short story to be impactful, you have to know your character well. You only have a certain amount of time to show your readers who that person is and you can’t do that if you don’t even know who they are.

Think about it.

If you write a short story about your best friend, whom you’ve known for many years, versus writing one about someone you just met yesterday, you’ll be able to craft a much stronger story about your best friend because you know them so well.

The same goes for your fictional characters.

You don’t have to spend a ton of time on this, but know their history, age, personality, family life, friend life, love life, and other details that shape the way someone sees the world.

#2 – Outline

Thankfully, the outlining process for a short story is much easier than a full novel, but I do still advise creating one in order to have a cohesive flow throughout the story.

This is definitely useful for those of you who prefer outlining versus just writing by the seat of your pants.

Here’s what your outline should encompass for a short story:

  • The point of view you’ll use
  • How you’ll start the story
  • How you’ll get from the beginning to the main issue
  • What happens at the “climax” (yes, even short stories have one!)
  • Resolution of the main issue
  • The very end

Keep in mind that your short story can end very abruptly or you can flesh it out until there’s a satisfying ending.

This is really up to you as an author to decide.

#3 – Start with something out of the ordinary

In order to hook readers with a short story, you should start with something that’ll catch someone’s attention right off the bat.

Take Hannah Lee Kidder’s example from the video above. One of the short stories in her upcoming anthology, Little Birds, opens with a woman collecting roadkill.

Odd? Yes. Attention grabbing? You bet!

Because we’re automatically intrigued by the fact that people don’t normally go around collecting roadkill.

Now, you don’t have to start your short story with something as strange as that but you do want to give your readers a sense of who your character is by depicting something different right away that also has to do with the core focus of your short story.

how to write a short story intro example

Take this short story called The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, for example. This author starts with a very low money amount and then hits you with the fact that it’s Christmas the very next day.

This is out of the ordinary because many readers understand that having such little money (scraped up money, at that) right before Christmas isn’t typical. It’s odd – and also hits their emotions right away.

#4 – Get the draft done ASAP

Done is better than perfect. We’ve all heard or read these words time and time again – and that’s because they’re important; they’re true.

This is especially the case when it comes to short stories. Once you have your outline and know how to start writing, drafting the short story in full comes next.

Don’t worry about editing or polishing the story up in any way right now. After all, you can’t possibly make good edits until you know what the story looks like in full.

That would be like matching your earrings to your pants without first having the full outfit put together. You don’t know if those earrings work well with it until you see what else you’ll be wearing.

It’s the same for writing. Focus on getting your draft done so you can move on to the next step.

how to write a book and finish quote

#5 – Edit your short story

Editing is where the real magic happens when it comes to writing. We all have this idea in our minds that we’ll get it perfect the first time and that’s just not how writing works.

Most of the time, your first draft is just the bare bones of what’s to come.

Think of the actual writing as the wooden structure of a house and the editing as the drywall, paint, windows, light fixtures, doors, and anything else that’ll make the house complete.

These are a few things to keep an eye out for when editing your short story:

  • Point of view consistency
  • Tense consistency
  • Weak verbs (replace them with our list of strong verbs found right here!)
  • Showing versus telling (readers need you to show more!)
  • Stronger imagery
  • Spelling/grammar/dialogue

The editing process for short stories is pretty much the same for novels. The only difference is that short stories tend to focus more on imagery and exposition than they do full character and plot development.

#6 – Title it!

This can be one of the most difficult things for any book, let alone a story that’s only a few hundred to a few thousand words.

The good news? Short story titles are a little less important than titles for novels. They can also be very abstract.

What you want to think of when titling your short story is this:

  • What’s the overarching theme?
  • What is something unique about the story?
  • What sounds intriguing but not explanatory?

These questions will help you develop a title that not only makes sense, but is also intriguing enough to pull readers in while staying true to what the story is about.

#7 – Get feedback

No matter how experienced (or inexperienced) you are as a writer, you need feedback.

In order to learn and improve and ensure your message is coming across as desired, you need someone else’s fresh eyes on it.

The simple fact is, we’re too close to our writing.

It’s impossible to read your story with a critical eye when you’re the one who came up with and wrote it in the first place.

Allowing others to read your work and offer feedback is one of the best ways to improve and make sure your story is exactly how you want it.

Your Next Steps

Now you know how to write a short story! But how do you go from having all this knowledge in your brain to actually writing a short story worth reading?

We’ve got those next steps for you.

#1 – Download some writing prompts

Not everyone can come up with a story idea off the top of their head. And as you learn how to write a short story, you might come up with a few but if you don’t, we’ve got you covered.

We have a master list of over 200 fiction writing prompts just waiting for someone to bring them to life.

Download yours right here and get started on your short story!

#2 – Start the outline!

If you went ahead and got your list of prompts, or if you already have an idea of your own, start your outline!

Get that main idea down and start thinking creatively about how you can begin your short story in a way that sucks readers in.

Then you can focus on the main event that ties everything together before finalizing how you want the story to end.

From there, move on to the next step!

how to write a short story training

#3 – Join your free training

No matter what your goal is with learning how to write a short story, you can benefit greatly from this free video training put together by 6-time bestselling author, Chandler Bolt.

He will teach you exactly how to go from blank page to published author (if that’s your goal!) all within 90 days.

Make sure to save your spot by signing up right here so you can finally start working toward your dream!

 

Do you have any other tips for learning how to write a short story? What do you love most about this avenue of writing? Comment down below!