Writing a Novel Begins after You Answer Four “What” Questions

I have the worst penmanship. Ever since grade school my handwriting has been illegible. As a matter of fact, I’ve never written anything in cursive; instead, I print. These days that’s no longer an issue because I use a computer. How exciting that I can sit in front of my computer and write with the assistance of a keyboard so that someone can actually read what I’ve written!

I’m also not a perfect speller. But no worries there, either, because of the great invention known as “spell-check.” It has never been easier to write. So take advantage of the variety of writing tools at your fingertips and begin thinking about what kind of book you might be interested in I told you I’d give you a behind-the-scenes look at how I wrote Escape through the Wilderness, so here goes… Last summer I was feeling a bit bored. I own a small consulting company and limit my client list so I can focus on other interests like family and writing. One afternoon I was browsing the Internet when I came across an advertisement about writing a book in thirty days.

So I started thinking, if I were to write a book, where would I start? There were four questions I needed to answer before I could even begin:

1. What passion is motivating me to write a book?

2. What audience do I want to reach with my writing?

3. What message(s) or theme(s) do I want to deliver to my readers?

4. How do I want this book to make a difference in the life of the reader?

Now let’s take each of these “what” questions and I’ll tell you how I answered them before I wrote, Escape through the Wilderness.

1. What passion motivated me to write this book? My passion was to inspire, encourage, and entertain young readers. I wanted to write a book that was fun and would positively impact those that took the time to read it.

2. What audience did I want to reach with my writing? My goal was to target an audience of 10-16-year-old male and female readers who like adventure books. My secondary target was males and females of all ages who like thrilling adventure stories.

3. What messages or themes did I want to deliver to my readers? My primary message was, “What you believe and how you live can have an inspirational and profound impact on those around you.” My secondary message highlighted, “Friends can work together to overcome obstacles and adversity.”

4. What difference would my writing make in the lives of those that read my book? I wanted to encourage young readers to consider the importance of making wise choices regarding their friendships, persevere during times of adversity, and understand the value of being a person of faith.

Well, that’s it for now. Consider taking time to answer the four questions I’ve discussed above. Remember, there are no “wrong” answers, just your initial thoughts on the subject. The answers you generate on your first pass are not locked in forever. Over time they will probably change and become more focused and refined, which is expected until you hone in on exactly what you want to accomplish.

Until we meet again, remember that the initial work of answering the four questions above is an important step on your way to writing your first novel.

1. Do you believe most authors write to become famous, or to convey important ideas their readers want or need to hear?

2. How would you answer that question for yourself? Why do you want to write?

Next time, we’ll highlight the importance of developing a timeline for your story.