I saw a video on Facebook not long ago. It was called The Four Chord Song by Axis of Awesome.
It’s a comical song that explains how all number one hits use the same four chords. I couldn’t help thinking, if only writing a best seller was that easy. Then I realised, in a way it can be.
Alright, maybe not a best seller… but when you strip it down to the very basics, writing a book is a simple four step system.
So, what’s this system, I hear you asking as you laugh at me?
Well, this is the system, as I see it.
You start with an idea, usually a question. It can be any question.
Why can’t I get that song out of my head?
What does the old woman on the street who talks to herself say?
What would I do if I won the lottery?
In my most recent case for my book Ethereal Lives, it was… What if you were the last human in existence?
Once you have your question, you have your start.
Okay, you have your start so what’s next?
It’s alright being the last person in the universe but that’s a bit boring if you’re just sat around doing nothing, so you need something make life interesting. You need conflict.
My conflict was my heroine being kidnapped by aliens who want to sell her, and her not wanting to be sold.
Now, I know, there is a lot more to it than this. But as I said, I’m stripping it down to the very basics and this is my story in it’s barest form. So you have a conflict. Now it’s onto step 3.
Whatever the conflict is, you have to find a way to resolve it. Since my book is a romance, the hero and heroine fall in love and one has to save the other. (Though, I’m not telling who.) Obviously it is not that simple, there are lots of bumps on the road to true love after all, but that is pretty much what the resolution is.
So, whats after the resolution?
The bit where you find the happy ever after. Well, thats what I like to find anyway. Being a romantic I’m a firm believer in happy endings, however, this isn’t a must. In many cases step 4 becomes a prelude to a sequel, but which ever you choose thats the final step.
Now, I know, there is a lot more to writing a book than this but, as I see it, these are your first initial steps. Think of them as your foundation. Once you have them you are ready to build. To expand your story, fill in the details.
I’m not saying its easy, and it doesnt always go according to plan. I started my book thinking my heroine would end up in a totally different situation than the one she did, but our characters do that. Despite the plans we make, they still somtimes surprise us and send us in a totally different direction than the one we intended, that’s okay though. We dont need to have it all written down and follow those guides to the letter. As long as we have a good foundation we can build anything we want.
So thats the basics of book writing as I see it. I’ll leave this post with the song that inspired it. Enjoy!