Writing a book is like going on a long road trip.
You can’t get to the end of your journey until you’ve
traveled each and every mile of the road ahead.
While there are always many routes to get to your
destination, The Write Practice’s Book Writing Roadmap
is designed to guide you on your journey with more fun
and less frustration.
You can write a book! Just follow the map to get there.
ONE: Write a one to three sentence premise
TWO: Picture your ideal reader
THREE: Write a one-page outline
FOUR: Write one chapter at a time until your first draft
FIVE: Read through your book without editing
SIX: Rewrite until finished with your second draft
SEVEN: Get beta readers/a critique group/a content
EIGHT: Rewrite until you finish your third draft
NINE: Get beta readers/a critique group/a copy editor
For more visit thewritepractice.com/writeabook
table of contents
ONE: WRITE A ONE TO THREE
Whether you’re writing a book or a blog post, it’s
tempting to just dive into your writing project. However,
you will save yourself time and create a better end
product if you settle on a solid premise before you start
If you’re writing fiction, your premise needs to contain
four things compacted into just one sentence:
1. the protagonist
2. the setting
3. the problem the protagonist faces
4. the protagonist’s goal
In nonfiction, the premise explains the main argument of
the book, explains the problem the book is trying to
solve, and then describes the method for solving that
problem. In nonfiction, your premise should be two to
TWO: PICTURE YOUR IDEAL
The definition of a story, according to dictionary.com, is:
A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse,
designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or
Note the key words: interest, amuse, or instruct.
When people write solely for themselves, they tend to
write stories that aren’t very good, selfish stories, stories
that don’t instruct, amuse, or even hold a reader's
When people write for others, especially if they write for
one specific other—their child, their lover, their best
friend—they tend to write stories that are exciting, full of
The best stories are not about how the author feels. The
best stories are about how the reader feels.
For example, when J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, he
never thought anyone would be interested in it. Tolkien
wrote the novel as a bedtime story for his four children,
in other words, as a way to connect more deeply with his
family. One of the best selling books of all time was
written by a man who didn’t even intend to publish it. He
only wrote the book to entertain himself and his kids.
Before you write your first line, decide whom you’re
writing for. Tape their picture next to your writing desk or
to your computer screen. Each time you write, think,
“What would they like to read?” It will make for a better
book, but it will also make for a much more fun writing
THREE: WRITE A ONE-PAGE
Plans are worthless, but planning is essential.
Before you begin writing, plan out your book in a onepage
outline. Don’t take the outline itself too seriously, as
everything can and likely will change. Use it, instead, as a
chance to think through your story from beginning to
end. You will likely come back to this outline again and
again throughout the writing process.
For your plan, use this century-old writing advice as your
In the first act get your principal character up a tree; in
the second act, throw stones at him; in the third, get him
Use this very simple five-part model as a loose guide (it
works for fiction and nonfiction):
1. SETUP: Why should we care? about this character?
about this idea? about this problem?
2. THE PROBLEM: You/your character wants
something… but there’s a problem. What do you/
your character want? What is the problem? And
why does it have to be solved now?
3. MAKE THE PROBLEM PERSONAL: Why is this
problem so hard to solve?
4. SOLUTION: Solve the problem.
5. RESOLUTION: Why does it matter that this problem
is solved? (Or for tragedies, what does the world
look like now that it hasn’t been solved?)
For maximum drama, I like what Randy Ingermanson
says: “All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster.”
FOUR: WRITE ONE CHAPTER AT
A TIME UNTIL YOUR FIRST
DRAFT IS FINISHED
Write each unit of your book in one sitting.
It’s good to have a daily word count requirement, e.g.
1,000 words per day. But the best strategy is to write
each unit of your book, whether that’s a story/scene/
chapter/section, in one sitting.
The human brain is made for story. We have been telling
stories since we were cavemen around campfires. Take
advantage of that built-in need to finish telling a story by
writing it all down in one sitting. It’s much harder to tell
(or write) a story when you’re interrupted halfway
Note: there is no getting around the fact that writing a
book is hard. It is here where most people quit. This is
where you most need to picture your ideal reader (see
step 2) and get an accountability group, usually made up
of other writers, who can keep you focused on your goal.
FIVE: READ THROUGH YOUR
BOOK WITHOUT EDITING
After you finish your first draft, read your manuscript
through by yourself without editing.
After writing, you are too close to have any objectivity
about your book. Don’t waste your time editing your
book line-by-line when you’ll likely have to rewrite, or
even discard, major sections of it.
Instead, get a fresh perspective and see what holes need
filling, what chapters need to be rewritten, and what
sections need to be thrown out completely, by reading
your book from start to finish.
While you shouldn’t edit as you read, you are
encouraged to take notes or jot down any ideas you
have for the next step.
SIX: REWRITE UNTIL YOU
FINISH YOUR SECOND DRAFT
Your second draft is meant for major structural fixes.
If you found any major holes in the reading stage, your
second draft is the time to write or rewrite chapters and
After the discoveries you made reading your book in
step five, you may even decide to rewrite the whole
SEVEN: BETA READERS/
Send your manuscript to a group of up to thirty friends
and fellow writers for feedback. Through these beta
readers you will finally be able to get a sense of what
your book really is, not what you think it is. Beta readers
bring fresh eyes, and by listening to them as they talk
about your book, you'll be able to see what's ready for
publication and what isn’t.
It’s better to get as many people from as varied
backgrounds as possible rather than just asking a few
people you think you can trust. You will have a better
sense of what is working and isn’t working in your book—
and feel less personally stung if one person doesn’t like
part of your book—from a wider survey than a narrower
If you can afford it, hire an editor to critique your book
after your second draft, giving a high-level overview of
your books major problems.
EIGHT: REWRITE UNTIL YOU
FINISH THE THIRD DRAFT
Now that the major structural changes have been made
in your second draft, it’s the time to polish your prose.
Your final, detailed line edits don't come until your third
draft. First drafts are for digging the book's foundation,
second drafts for framing the house, and third drafts for
NINE: BETA READERS/
Another round of beta reading. If you’re part of a critique
group, this is a great time to begin sharing your writing
If you’re thinking about self-publishing, it’s essential that
you hire a line editor or copy editor to go through your
prose with a fine-tooth comb. Not only will you have a
better book because of it, good editing is the best way
to learn the writing craft.
Celebrate! You finished your book! Regardless of
whether you publish it or not, you’ve done something
most people only dream about.
Publishing is the most exciting and stressful part of the
book writing process, but it’s much too big a subject to
go through here. Here is a brief preview of our
publishing roadmap to get an overall sense of what
2. Agents/Publishers vs. Self-Publishing
Congratulations! You’ve accomplished something
amazing. Now, get to work on your next book!
For more visit thewritepractice.com/writeabook