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When I wrote my first three books (two comedic novels and a guide to apply to college, all available on Amazon, I knew exactly what I wanted to say to the audiences I wanted to target.
But, when I created my blog, I Have A Dream Board, earlier this year, I had no idea what it was going to be or what I wanted to say. As I have kept writing each week, the site has developed into a platform to help women in business find time for yourself and get your life.
Similarly, if you want to write a book, once you’ve written down something, anything, on a page, then simply answer a few questions, and you’ll be on the right track.
Pick one person. She can be fictional, she can be real, or she can be you. Other characters can be added later, but let’s focus on your main character. What is her name? Who is she? Who does she want to be? Where does she come from, and where does she want to go? What time period does she live in? What’s her goal in the story, and why does she want to achieve it?
For example, in the book that I am working on now, Love at a Luau, my main character is KC Santana. She is a refugee living in a sustainable community on a tropical island south of Hawaii, and she is suffering from PTSD. After losing her prestigious job and breaking up with a man she thought she would marry, KC doesn’t know whom she wants to be. KC grew up in Southern California and was living in Northeastern California until her town was evacuated, but now she wants to stay put. KC lives in the early 2010s. Her goal in this story is to keep her new home safe from harm.
There are countless additional details I know about KC—and have written down—so that she can drive the story. You show know your main character inside and out so that they can make choices in your book that feel realistic for who they are.
Do you want to write a murder mystery? A thriller? A ghost story? A love story? A historical novel? A memoir? A fairy tale?
Write down—on a piece of paper or a notebook or your computer—what you want to write about. It doesn’t need to be concise. Write down all your thoughts about what you want your book to be, other characters you want to include, and the world you want to create.
When I started writing Love at a Luau, I knew that it would be a romance novel. I knew that I wanted KC to fall in love with one man before she ends up with another one and that she would meet both of her love interests at the titular luau. But it wasn’t until I continued building the world that I decided this book would have three sequels. Originally, I had imagined KC’s story as all contained in one book, but the act of writing down the ideas in my head showed a different path for my project.
Again, start writing. Once you get going, it gets easier to see your ideas as the book you want to create. Plus, you will be able to see that you can do this.
What is calling you to write? What story is inside you that needs to get out? Where are your ideas coming from? Who is out there that could benefit from the words you want to share? (Hint: other moms like you!)
I didn’t expect to write this book, or any book, this year. To make a long story short, and mysterious, I was inspired to write Love at a Luau after participating in a women in business Twitter chat, reading about recent whitewashing media incidents, and having a conversation with my spouse about representation on cable television in the United States. After that confluence of events, I decided to write a romance novel about a refugee suffering from PTSD who is scared to fall in love with a single dad.
The protagonist, KC, happens to be an ambitious Chicana woman with big hopes and dreams, including becoming a mom. Two of her love interests happen to be men with Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry. They all live on an island with neighbors that reflect the population of the world (over 60% Asian/Pacific Islander) not the population of Burbank (over 72% white).
No one else that I know of is telling a story like this, for various reasons. I was called to write this book, and the three future sequels, because representation is important.Diversity is reality. Creativity is exciting.Click To Tweet
And I like to write. Ergo, here we are.
Who do you want to write about? What do you want to write about? Why do you want to write a book? Start by answering these three questions, and you will be on your way to writing your first book!
Mahlena-Rae Johnson helps women in business trying to balance it all. She shows you how to make time for yourself first, so you can get your life. Mahlena grew up on the mean beaches of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and during her senior year of high school, she was named Most Likely to Kidnap a Backstreet Boy. When she isn’t working smart to help professional women achieve their personal goals, Mahlena is writing her fourth book, Love at a Luau, wrangling her growing family, and indulging in reruns of A Different World and Murder, She Wrote. You can read more of Mahlena’s witty musings on Work/Life Balance for Creative Women at www.iHaveADreamBoard.blogspot.com.