I have been coaching a new writer whose book is titled Grains of Truth. It's enjoyable to work with a first-time writer, which is one of the specialties of 3L Publishing. We like to work with people from the beginning of the process to the end. I always tell writers it's better to use our consulting and coaching at the beginning of a project vs. the end. The reason is time. A new writer who is inexperienced can easily get off-track. When they bring a fiction or nonfiction book to us and it got off-track then they often feel discourage because all the work has to be revised. If you start at the beginning we can guide, coach and provide our expertise to help you write a winning first draft.
The number one benefit of using a book coach is accountability. When you start a new project and get distracted, you might find it easy to quit working. With a coach you will be encouraged and held accountable for your goals. Just having someone who is invested in your success can help you achieve it. I worked with my partner Scott D. on my book Body in the Trunk. Now he is reading along with my new project The Abused. I share this with you so you realize that even the CEO of 3L Publishing uses someone to help. I am by no means above having outside advice. If you want to know more about our coaching services (we do it for all creative projects including screenplays), send us at an email to info@3LPublishing.com.
So a few insights and tips to help you get started on a project of any kind. It doesn't always have to be a book, but we'll use the book model.
Table of Contents - the "TOC" (as we like to call it) is the road map to the entire book. In fiction this is less important (in fiction it would be your story and plots). The TOC provides your guide. You know where you're going to start and your intentions to end. With a solid TOC you won't have to second-guess your organization and structure. Speaking of ...
Organization and structure matter - the reading experience depends on the organization. Sound organization keeps everything so it makes sense (or you suppose it makes sense). Every book has a beginning, middle and end. Readers have expectations that your book will have these elements and in that order. Breaking the rules of structure is a tricky endeavor. I don't recommend new writers attempt to break structure until they know what structure involves.
Don't break the rules till you know the rules. There are two ways to break the rules: (1) knowingly and cleverly and (2) ignorantly and foolishly so you look bad. When a writer has obviously broken the rules it is, well, obvious. When they think they know the rules (and they don't) then messing with the rules of grammar, punctuation and style is a sure way to get the critics to trash your book. In the movie Finding Forrester, William Forrester teaches his young protégé this essential truth. I smiled and nodded. He discusses the use of the conjunctions "but" and "and" to start a sentence. It's a great little grammar lesson embedded in a movie about literature and writing.
If you're looking for some great resources to help your writing, use Grammar Girl for those rules we just mentioned. She's the most accurate and easy to understand. If you want to learn general information about overall writing and style, try AP Style. It also contains legal information about things like Fair Use and copyright. AP Style can help answer overall questions vs. grammar. It demonstrates usage, punctuation and grammar. Both Grammar Girl and AP are excellent resources to have in your "tool bag" of tricks.
And my most important tip of all:
Know what you don't know and look it up.
Why does that mean? Hubris and over-confidence do not serve anyone when you're trying to get it right (as in editing a book). I used to play this game with my dad called "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" I always won. Want to know why? While my dad knows way more than I do in general, he doesn't know when to admit he's not certain. On the other hand, I know when I don't know and "phone a friend" (if you remember the show then you know what that is) comes in handy when you want to get it right. So ... use your "phone a friend" when you want to get something right.