Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

January 4, 2010

How to Write a Book – At Least, How I Write One

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 2:35 PM

Anyone with knowledge of a subject can write 500 words. That means YOU can write a book. At least, this is what I discovered and how I construct a non-fiction book or a novel.

Let’s start with a non-fiction book.

When friends and colleagues ask me how can I write a 90,000 to 120,000 words on anything, I tell them as I said above. Anyone can write 500 words on a topic.

Take one of my non-fiction books – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting an Online Business. That book is over 300 pages in length and over 90,000 words long. But I wrote it only 500 words at a time. It contains 5 sections, each with several chapters containing several sections per chapter.

Here’s how you do it.  If you’ve ever created a PowerPoint presentation – which many of us have for one reason of another – you are laying the ground work and skeleton for a book.

Look how you approach the PowePoint presentation. First you divide it into major parts – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc. Then those parts into slides. Then those slides into bullet points and sub-bullet points.

See? That’s easy to do.

Now, suppose those major parts of the presentation are major parts of a non-fiction book. The slides within each section are your chapters. The bullet points are section of your chapter. Those bullet points are no more than 500 words each.

If you are able to construct your non-fiction book like this, then you write your 90,000 page book one section -500 words – at a time, one chapter 3000 words at time, several chapters to a Part and a number of Parts to the book.

I use the same organizational technique with my novels. But instead of chapters and sections, I use scenes.

When I sit down to write a book, I thoroughly outline it. I start with the concept which is Parts. In this case, the parts are of the plot. But, like many novels, there are sub-plots. These sub-plots act as chapters and create scenes with narrative and dialogue.  In my latest endeavor – The Chronicles of Jeremy Nash – I use a formula for each book.

The formula of the Chronicles consists of a conspiracy theory, unsolved mystery, urban myth, New Age belief or paranormal practice that Nash is forced to pursue through a series of clues and puzzles that he must solve; combined with an underlying real world threat of event, organization or persons that is somehow connected to what he is pursuing. This provides the thriller aspect of the stories.

But I run two seemingly unrelated sub-plots that pose challenges to Jeremy Nash. So in reality, I am telling two stories that eventually connect in the middle of the book. The Parts of the novel is the telling of these two plots.  Of course, the telling of the tale is not linear and I jump form one plot to the other connecting Jeremy Nash to the action until the first plot ends halfway through and the final plot reaches its conclusion at the end of the book.

In any case, the chapters are broken down into scenes that drive the plots forward. And what drives plot are the characters who are motivated to take action in some way or another. That’s what makes a story believable, characters believable and enjoyment by the reader – or movie viewer, for that matter.

So what do you think? If you are a writer, let me know if this might work for you. If not, how do you approach writing a book?



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Frank Fiore, Frank Fiore. Frank Fiore said: Anyone with knowledge of a subject can write 500 words. That means YOU can write a book. Here's how. […]

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  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by followthenovel: #Authors Anyone with knowledge of a subject can write 500 words. That means YOU can write a book. Here’s how.

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — January 4, 2010 @ 2:42 PM | Reply

  3. Anyone can write a book. I did 13. Anyone can even publish a book now w POD companies. The problem is finding an agent and hooking up w a traditional publisher.

    Comment by Scott Malensek — January 4, 2010 @ 2:52 PM | Reply

  4. I agree with you Scott. Frank, I like your idea of writing a book 500 words at a time. Certainly breaking it down into small portions makes the task a bit less daunting, to say the least. Scott does have a point about getting the text published. And, let’s face it, if we take the time to write the book, we want to get compensation for our work and as many readers as possible. What has been your success with the online e-book route?

    Thanks for your ideas.

    Comment by Dr. Terilyn J. Goins — January 7, 2010 @ 1:56 PM | Reply

    • Teri

      I’ve found that my eBook version is outselling the printed one. I believe we are on the cusp of the next publishing revolution.

      Comment by Frank Fiore — January 7, 2010 @ 2:48 PM | Reply

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