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Any advice on how I learn to write a book?

(31 Posts)
Freda65 Mon 09-May-22 13:13:24

Having been a carer of my parents who have suffered from dementia for a number of years, I’m keen to attempt to write the story. It’s an interesting one in terms of dementia behaviour... some of which is never talked about and which I think is important to get out there It would also without doubt make an entertaining read!
My first obstacle is where to start, how to structure, basically what I need to do?
Does anyone have any experience or advice and can point me in the right direction?
Thanks in advance!

Witzend Mon 09-May-22 13:51:36

I’m sorry you’re having to cope with this, Freda65 - I do know all too well how very hard it can be.

As regards the book, have you read anything similar? A good general ploy is to read a few of the sort of books you want to write.

There are plenty of ‘How to write’ books on the market, but three things they will nearly always say are:

1. Just get on and write it, make a start. You can always go back and edit.

2. Cut all possible waffle and padding.**

3. Grab your reader early on - nobody is going to wait until it starts getting interesting halfway through chapter 3.

In your case that might mean starting with some reasonably dramatic dementia-related incident - not with the day you first realised that there was a problem. You can then go back.

I say all this as a multi-published author who has seen a great many amateur efforts, and who also has also had many years’ experience of dementia in two relatives.

**Most of the amateur efforts I’ve seen could have done with drastic pruning!

It’s many years ago now, but I do recall a very successfully published book called ‘Guppies For Tea’ - about dementia in the case of the author’s grandmother. I can’t remember the author’s name though. IIRC it was her first published effort - though not necessarily her first effort. Many published authors will have had a number of rejects beforehand, so when you read about someone’s ‘first’ novel, it may well be their 6th or their 11th.
A very famous and successful author (can’t recall his name either!) had 16 rejections before he finally made it.
Good luck!

Maggiemaybe Mon 09-May-22 14:21:13

Have you searched for writing groups in your area, Freda65, or evening classes for aspiring authors? If you have an annual Literary Festival anywhere near, they invariably have a session or two on how to write for publication. I found myself at one once, just because I was interested in the subject, and everyone there had a novel or several stories half-written, and was already a member of a writing group. That's when I found out that there were quite a lot of them in our area.

Best of luck with your writing!

Sago Mon 09-May-22 14:33:36

Why not start with writing a blog about your experiences?
This way you can learn as you go and see how well received it is.

Elrel Mon 09-May-22 14:37:53

Your local library should have information about writing groups and classes.

grandtanteJE65 Mon 09-May-22 14:38:29

Were you good at writing essays at school? And were you taught to make out a plan of what you wanted to discuss and in which order you should do it?

If so, you shouldn't have any trouble.

Any book-seller near a college or university should have one or two handbooks on how to set out a dissertation or report.
Your local library probably has some too, or can get them for you from another library. It might be an idea to look though a guide of this kind.

Otherwise I suggest you start with one of the typical smaller incidents of caring for those with dementia that you feel the public should be aware of.

Relate what happened -the reactions it caused - the solution you came to, and either briefly describe the difficulties you had making others aware of the problem - or if that was as long and hard a road as I suspect, say just that and refer a detailed discussion to a later chapter.

When you have written a chapter or two, get someone else to read it - preferably someone involved in the kind of work you had to do - you could also start contacting book agents and publishers asking if anyone would be willing to look at your trial chapters and plan for the work and give an opinion on it.

Antonia Mon 09-May-22 14:43:27

I am echoing everything that Witzend said, particularly point 3 about starting with something dramatic.

I found that the easiest part was writing the book (I wrote and self published three books), but the tricky bit is the formatting and uploading. I used KDP publishing for mine.

For the third book I used a professional to upload it for me.

I am currently thinking of a plot for another book.

I don't want to put you off, but it probably won't make much money for you. Although the achievement in itself is a great reward.

Good luck.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Mon 09-May-22 15:05:25

Ernest Hemingway wrote, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter* and bleed." (*or the modern equivalent)

Are there any creative writing classes in your area? These may help you to hone your craft and you'll meet other writers.

M0nica Mon 09-May-22 16:03:34

Google 'writing a non-fictionbook hits and tips' and you will be inundated with helpful sites.

Skydancer Mon 09-May-22 16:12:49

Look at Bookemon. It’s a simple layout which you can amend as often as you like. I took a year to write my mother’s life story and I interspersed it with bits of information from the timer. It’s so easy to put in photos too. When you are satisfied you can buy a hard copy or obviously as many as you wish. Very reasonable price. Excellent quality. I’d recommend this company.

Skydancer Mon 09-May-22 16:13:35

Sorry…. From the time…not timer.

MrsKen33 Mon 09-May-22 16:32:56

I have just got a publishing contract. Sit down and start writing. It will come and in your own authentic style. Good luck.

Freda65 Tue 10-May-22 12:35:51

That’s brilliant, thank you so much everyone for all the great advice and experience you’ve shared here! It’s certainly given me the initial direction I was looking for. I’ll let you know how I get on ...thanks again x

Auntieflo Tue 10-May-22 14:16:05

Witzend, Marika Cobbold wrote Guppies for Tea. I read it years ago, and remembered the title, but not the subject.?

OakDryad Tue 10-May-22 15:16:04

Do you mean you want to write this as novel? Think about taking part in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month and investigate what support programmes are available in your area.

Also look at Myslexia tools especially How to write a first page to get you going. I can recommend their quarterly magazine.

Serendipity22 Tue 10-May-22 15:48:16

Hi there Freda65. I have written quite a few books, none have been published and it isnt through trying.

The majority of my books ( over 60,000 words in each ) are all based on an event which is in my life ( as yours will be ).

Because you have lived through the situation you are writing about, your experiences lay raw throughout the book. I can't give you a detailed method of writing because mine just flowed from mind to laptop.
You will laugh, you will cry, all your emotions will find themselves written down,its fantastic therapy.

When the time is right, your story will flow, you can't force it. When you read it back, you will be amazed that every single word has come from YOU, I read mine back and think have I written this???

All the

marina3 Tue 30-Aug-22 14:02:49

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Jaxjacky Tue 30-Aug-22 14:31:51


Elegran Tue 30-Aug-22 14:47:50

Read books, read lots of books, and then read more. You will absorb how others before you have written them.

Write down something every day in a notebook (or most days, if you can't manage every day) Write anecdotes, quotes, musings, references to other stories connected with yours.

When you are ready to start, make a list of chapter headings that follow a recognisable "journey" through time, or through the progress of your parents' dementia, and shuffle the "material" in your notebook into appropriate chapters. Expand them, add to them, and refer back to them in other chapters.

There are lots of helpful ideas here, and suggestions for finding more help.

Good luck.

discoqueen Tue 08-Nov-22 19:46:54

Skyos holidays do creative writing classes.
Both in Greece, been twice alone, and the Isle of Wight.
Tbh mostly went for a holiday and picked a diary style based on own experience. Wouldn't sell! But enjoyed it. Met some lovely people.
Also did a writing course locally.

seadragon Sun 27-Nov-22 17:03:53

I've just finished Sally Magnusson's excellent book about her mum's dementia - "Where do the Memories Go?". Great for reference and research as well as really well written and an example of the genre. Good Luck

Daisymae Sun 27-Nov-22 17:50:11

The Open University has an Introduction to Creative Writing Course. There are no entry requirements as its a stand alone course. Costs £99 to register. Might be a good place to start. Or maybe look at your local colleges and see if there's anything suitable. Few people can sit down at a keyboard and bang out a book without some tutoring.

MrsKen33 Sun 27-Nov-22 18:16:20

Oh yes you can . Just do it. I did and I have a publishing contract. Your way and your ideas . Go for it Freda

Quokka Sat 07-Jan-23 14:58:52

Start your own small writing group. Limit it to 5-6 so you all have time to read your piece and discuss others. I did this on our local Nextdoor and had a good response.

But vet people beforehand. You don’t want bossy, critical types or those with nothing to add to the group. If you offer to host it during daytime you will probably get a more ‘mature’ group of retirees. It depends what you prefer.

silverberryfern Tue 27-Jun-23 18:41:30

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