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How to Start Writing a Book: Can AI Help?

Julia McCoy
Thursday, 29th Jun 2023
how to start writing a book

The idea of crafting an entire novel can be daunting, even for seasoned writers.

How to start writing a book with zero inspiration?

AI may be the answer!

Thanks to the evolution of artificial intelligence, it is now possible to compose an entire book with AI — even if you’re suffering from writer’s block.

AI technology now has the power to write the way a human would, which means your book will get done faster with less editing. In fact, 65.8% of people think AI writing is equal to or better than human writing.

If this sounds crazy to you, fear not, aspiring writers!

Banish your trepidation — we’ll provide the tools and advice to get you started on your novel-writing journey.

In this blog post, we will discuss how to start writing a book, particularly with an AI writing tool. We’ll also provide tips for crafting engaging stories using AI as well as best practices for editing your manuscripts before submitting them for publication.

No matter what type of book you’re writing, this guide will help you navigate through the challenges and bring that great book idea to life.

So if you’re ready to learn how to start writing a book and get started on your own masterpiece, let’s get down to business and start your book project with the help of artificial intelligence.

Table of Contents:

How to Write a Book

Before the arrival of artificial intelligence and modern writing tools, the process of writing a book traditionally involved more manual techniques and reliance on physical resources.

First, you have to conceptualize your book. Consider themes, characters, settings, or plots that interest you. If your book requires factual information or historical context, start doing research.

The next step is to create an outline of your book. Plan your key chapters and plot points and visualize the flow of your story or non-fiction content on index cards or a physical storyboard.

From there, begin writing your book. Read through your manuscript and rewrite sections that need improvement.

Writing a book traditionally required patience and perseverance, as the process was more time-consuming without the aid of modern technology.

Today, AI writing software can publish stories as short as one page or as long as an entire book series. Chatbots like ChatGPT can write book chapters based on prompts, thanks to sophisticated natural language processing that mimics human-authored writing.

Read here for more details on how to write a book with ChatGPT.

AI can be used to generate large quantities of writing in days instead of months, which is advantageous for authors of serialized fiction or educational textbooks who need to produce high volumes of different book ideas in a short time frame.

Learning how to start writing a book using AI is an exciting new way to create stories and explore ideas. Even if you can’t write or want to start a book with no experience, you can get started fleshing out unique plots and characters that will make your story stand out from the rest.

An industrial robot writing out the Bible

How to Start Writing a Book with AI

With the help of AI tools, writers can generate amazing book ideas, compelling dialogue, and interesting plot points with ease. 

How to get started writing a book with artificial intelligence?

Choose the Right Tool for Your Project

The AI book writing process starts with choosing the right AI writing software. Compare features, ease-of-use, cost, and benefits before settling on an AI writing solution that meets your needs.

For example, different AI writing tools offer different features for writing various types of content and text.

Depending on the type of book you want to produce, you should choose the tool that matches up with your needs:

  • ChatGPT can help produce book outlines, break out of writer’s block, or get ideas for your next scene.
  • If you’re writing a non-fiction book, you could use Content at Scale to produce chapter outlines and first drafts for chapter sections.
content at scale table of contents

Content at Scale can produce detailed outlines for most topics.

As you consider the tools you’ll use, one issue you should be concerned about is copyright. Does the creator of the tool you’re using hand down the copyright of the AI-generated text to you? Content at Scale does — it’s part of our guiding principles.

That said, note that Content at Scale was not built for novel writing, but rather SEO blog writing. However, if you’re a non-fiction writer looking for creative routes to get your first draft done, there are lots of ways to customize your output with our tool, so it might be useful for you.

For a complete, step-by-step guide on how to use AI, read our blog post on how to write a book using AI.

Cultivate a Writing Habit with AI: Your First Step to Authorship

How to get started writing a book is no small feat, but it all begins with one simple step — cultivating good writing habits.

Creating and sticking to a consistent writing routine is essential. It’s not just about finding time but devoting time to your craft.

The first thing you need to do is establish a writing schedule. Dedicate a specific period of your day to writing sessions. This could be an hour every morning before work or perhaps late at night when the world around you quiets down.

If you are writing with AI, one of the skills that you should develop is writing prompts. An AI tool will not write by itself. You need to ask the right questions and provide specific instructions to get the type of output that you want.

Here are some steps to help you make the most out of AI tools:

  • Familiarize yourself with AI content: Explore the capabilities and limitations of AI models like GPT-3, which can generate creative and coherent text based on given prompts.
  • Identify your book’s theme and requirements: Determine the genre, tone, and style of your book. Consider the specific areas where you need help from AI such as character development, plot twists, descriptive passages, or dialogue. This will help you tailor prompts accordingly.
  • Experiment with writing prompts: Start by creating simple prompts to understand how the AI responds. For example, you could ask the AI to generate a dialogue between two characters, describe a setting, or provide a plot twist. Generate a few different prompts to see the range of responses and experiment with variations.
  • Evaluate and refine: AI content can serve as a starting point, but you should always review and edit to ensure it matches your vision for your book.
how to start writing a book

Screenshot from Reedsy

Why Are You Writing Your Book?

Before you begin writing, ask yourself why you want to do it in the first place. What do you want to accomplish from writing a book?

Positioning is the most crucial part of both writing and marketing your book. It’s important to understand that you can’t write or market yourself out of a positioning problem. If you get it right, then positioning makes both the writing and marketing of the book easy and ensures you get what you want from your book.

The best place to start book positioning is your objectives. Imagine it’s a few years after your book has been published, what has the book helped you accomplish that made the effort worthwhile?

There are an almost infinite array of benefits a book can get for an author but most fall into one of these six popular objectives:

  1. Generate leads for their business.
  2. Establish authority in their field.
  3. Increase visibility and brand recognition.
  4. Create content assets for their website.
  5. Grow email list subscribers.
  6. Generate passive income through royalties and sales commissions.

Who Are You Writing For?

The next step in how to start writing a book is to define your audience. Who is your book for and why should they care?

A book audience is a group of people who share the specific problem your book solves. It’s important to narrow down your audience as much as possible so that you can focus on helping those readers in particular.

To figure out who your book is for, start by considering the smallest possible audience you must reach to make it successful. This will be the primary target of your book.

Next, who will benefit from your book? Consider their age range, gender identity, interests, lifestyle habits, education level, occupation type, or any other relevant characteristics that could help define them more clearly.

You should also consider how likely these potential readers are to actually purchase or read a copy of your work. Think about where they spend time online (social media platforms) or offline (bookstores).

What publications do they read regularly? Where do they get information from? These details will help you determine the right method to reach them.

Finally, take some time to research books similar in genre or subject matter. Look at reviews left by readers before making any assumptions about what your book might be like when it is released into the world. Doing so can give you valuable insight into whether there is an existing demand for your book and how it would stand out from the competition once published.

Choose Your Genre

Before you start a writing career, pick a genre and know what your readers expect.

Read extensively within your genre, not just for enjoyment but as critical analysis, to get an idea of popular themes and tropes, and to inspire new ideas for your own work.

Dive into bestseller lists or ask for recommendations from friends who enjoy the same genre, and pay attention to writing style, pacing, and how authors build tension or evoke emotions.

Remember: Reading isn’t procrastination, it’s essential research.

Becoming well-versed in a particular genre helps you to deliver what readers anticipate, while also allowing for originality and creativity within your story.

In romance novels, readers typically expect a happy ending.

Fantasy fans often look forward to intricate world-building.

Professional writers read a lot and use those insights to craft their own narratives. This helps ensure you meet reader expectations while still offering them something fresh and exciting, a recipe for surefire success in any book-writing endeavor.

Find Your Voice

When learning how to start writing a book, it’s important to find your voice and let it all out.

To ensure that your writing reflects your own unique voice, there are two frames we recommend professional writers take:

1. Talk to a Friend

Before you start writing, envision yourself talking to a friend. This was the frame I used when writing this section—I pretended I was explaining this concept to a close friend of mine. As Eudora Welty once said, “Forget your generalized audience…in writing, your audience is one single reader.”

2. Help a Stranger Solve a Problem

If you imagine yourself helping a stranger solve something, it will come across as more authoritative in tone while still being relatable for readers. You can even combine both frames by envisioning yourself talking with a friend and helping them through something difficult.

how to start writing a book

Screenshot from WikiHow

Create an Outline: The Blueprint of Your Book

A good book starts with a good outline. This is the roadmap of your story, providing structure and direction for your narrative.

An outline is a plan for your book that serves as the foundation of your writing project. It’s essentially a roadmap, helping you to organize and structure all of the ideas and information you want to include in your book.

You can use AI to structure your main points to maintain consistency and flow. When writing prompts, specify your genre and number of chapters.

Here’s an example of a prompt when generating a book outline:

Generate a book outline based on the premise: “A reluctant hero embarks on a quest to restore magic and bring balance back to the realm.” The book should have 10 chapters.

Chapters and Sections

AI can also help you organize your chapters and sections logically. Specify chapter number, setting, and main events.

Here’s an example of a prompt when organizing events in your story:

For chapter 1 of a sci-fi novel, outline the main events that should occur when the protagonist enters her lab.

Plot Development

AI can help you create a compelling and coherent storyline as you develop your plot. Add your character names and events leading to conflict, climax, and resolution.

Here’s an example of a prompt when narrating your plot:

Write the story of Dr. Amelia Grant, a young scientist who accidentally discovers a mysterious virus, leading up to the climax and resolution.

Establishing a Scene

You can use AI to write out specific settings or scenes. Specify the time, location, and main characters.

Here’s an example of a prompt when creating a scene.

Describe one rainy night, inside a haunted asylum, where Dr. Grant finds a closed door with howling sounds coming from inside.

Outlining your chapters may seem daunting at first, but don’t worry – most AI tools come equipped with helpful templates or guides that make this step easier than ever before. Simply fill out these forms according to how you want things to unfold in your book and then let the software handle all the heavy lifting.

Tip: If you’re writing a non-fiction book, a generalized AI tool like ChatGPT might not be the best option for you.

  • For one, ChatGPT is known to “hallucinate” or make up its own facts.
  • Secondly, ChatGPT is trained only on data up to 2021.

Non-fiction books should be factual and updated — and this is where a tool like Content at Scale can help.

When you enter a key phrase, the app crawls Google on the spot for the most relevant information on the subject matter.

And while Content at Scale cannot write an entire book for you, it can help generate outlines for specific chapters of your book as well as full sections of text.

Writing a book with AI-powered tools can be an exciting journey. With the help of professional writing tips, you can tell a story that is engaging and realistic – just like a bestselling author.

how to start writing a book

Tips for Building an Engaging Story

AI-enabled tools can help you weave an enthralling tale that will keep readers hooked from beginning to end.

Here are some writing tips for how to craft an engaging story with AI.

Establish Character Development

When creating characters for your novel, it’s important to make sure they have distinct personalities and motivations. You should also take time to establish relationships between them so that readers can understand their dynamics.

Create vivid and compelling main characters by exploring their personalities, backgrounds, and motivations in-depth to draw readers into your story.

Understand their strengths, weaknesses, fears, and desires — everything that makes them tick.

AI can help you do this, too.

Sample prompt:

“A group of strangers with extraordinary abilities is brought together by a mysterious organization to prevent an impending global catastrophe. Outline the individual backstories, their initial conflicts, and the collaborative journey they undertake to save the world.”

Create Dialogue That Sounds Natural and Realistic

Dialogue is essential for making your main characters come alive on the page. To ensure that conversations sound natural and realistic, try using contractions when appropriate (e.g., “I’m” instead of “I am”) as well as slang words or phrases that fit each character’s personality type. Pay attention to how people speak in real life as this will help you craft dialogue more accurately.

Sample prompt:

“Generate a conversation between two characters, Jane and Alex, who are close friends and have known each other since childhood. They are discussing a recent personal setback that Jane has experienced, and Alex offers words of encouragement and advice. Show their deep bond, highlight Jane’s internal struggle, and reveal how this conversation helps shape Jane’s character and her outlook on the situation.”

Switch Up Your Drafting Techniques: Pen, Paper, and Pixels

Still struggling to get words on the page, even with the help of AI?

Research suggests that writing by hand can help your brain work better, so grab a notebook and let the words flow.

If you’re worried about losing handwritten drafts, don’t fret. You can always transition to computers once you’ve got the initial ideas down on paper.

Use digital tools like Evernote, Scrivener, or Google Docs to effectively manage and organize your work for the best results.

Don’t Over-Focus on Word Count

Word count matters, but quality over quantity is key when it comes to good writing.

Aim for clarity and precision rather than stuffing unnecessary words into your manuscript just to meet an arbitrary goal.

If trimming down becomes necessary, use online tools like Hemingway Editor designed specifically to reduce wordiness without sacrificing essential information.

Remember, every sentence should serve a purpose: advancing the plot, developing characters, or enriching the world of your book. 

Don’t clutter up pages with irrelevant details. Keep it crisp.

Build Conflict

No good book is complete without some form of conflict or tension between its characters. As you write your book manuscript with AI-powered tools, consider ways to introduce obstacles for your protagonists to overcome or unexpected twists at key moments in the plot. This will add suspenseful moments throughout the narrative that will keep readers engaged.

Sample prompt:

“Generate a scene where two main characters, Sarah and Mark, who were once close friends, find themselves on opposing sides of a moral dilemma. They are passionate about their beliefs and engage in a heated argument that escalates the conflict between them. Highlight their contrasting viewpoints, the emotional intensity of the confrontation, and the underlying tensions that threaten to irreparably damage their relationship.”

No matter what your writing style is, AI-powered novel writing tools can help you create a compelling narrative that keeps readers engaged until its conclusion.

Robots can now write fiction, and they’re designed to make your writing routine easy. With best practices for editing your AI-generated book manuscript, you’ll be able to refine and perfect your story for a captivating reading experience.

Best Practices for Editing Your Manuscript

So you’ve started writing your novel. After the actual writing comes the fine-tuning.

Editing an AI-generated book manuscript is a crucial step in your writing sessions. Make sure your story follows a logical progression from beginning to end.

Here are some best practices for editing when you’re writing a book manuscript.

Identify Areas That Need Refinement

After completing the actual writing part, go back to Chapter 1 and identify any areas that need improvement or refinement. 

Look for plot discontinuities, inconsistencies in character growth, clunky conversation, and other issues that could hamper the book’s overall quality. 

Examine each chapter in detail to detect any potential flaws before continuing with the editing process.

Make Sure the Story Flows

Read through every chapter again to make sure the story flows logically. Look out for anything that might disrupt the continuity between scenes or chapters. If necessary, rearrange sections of text so they flow more naturally together and create a smoother arc.

Proofread

Even if you have Grammarly, you should check every sentence in your AI-generated book manuscript one last time. Spot errors in subject/verb agreement, make sure spelling is correct, and check punctuation – all these small details should not slip past your final proofreading stage.

Finally, make sure your book reads like an actual human wrote it. Tweak sentences, add human emotion, and include detailed descriptions a bot would never be able to replicate.

This editing process is the hallmark of our CRAFT framework. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, by human or AI, it’s best to have a second pair of human eyes go through your manuscript to make sure everything looks good.

Most of these steps will apply well to editing your AI-generated book:

aio craft

Want to learn every step involved in our C.R.A.F.T. framework? You’re in the right place. To learn more about AIO and C.R.A.F.T, read our individual guides:

Additionally, subscribe to our blog, watch our C.R.A.F.T. and AIO tutorials on our YouTube channel, and read this blog to understand the AIO model.

Finalizing Your Manuscript for Publication

After you’ve started writing an engaging story and completed the editing phase, it’s time to prepare your manuscript for submission to traditional publishers or self-publishing platforms.

Before submitting your work, check if your manuscript meets the formatting requirements. This includes ensuring that margins, font size, and line spacing meet industry standards. Make sure all images are high quality and properly credited.

As an author, you should be aware of copyright law and how to protect yourself against plagiarism accusations. Register any copyright linked to your book before sending it off for publishing so you can take legal action against anyone who uses parts of your work without consent.

Be aware of what rights you may be giving away when signing contracts with publishing companies or self-publishing platforms such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

If you are publishing on WordPress, then you can build your book chapter by chapter on Content at Scale and publish directly to WP without leaving the platform.

Once your book is out there, promote it through content marketing to increase visibility on the web. Tell the world about your book through social media like Facebook and Twitter, blog entries, press releases, email campaigns, video trailers, and podcasts. Developing relationships with influencers in related industries can also help get more eyes on your book.

Beating Procrastination and Writer’s Block

Writers are vulnerable to two things: procrastination and writer’s block.

If you find yourself procrastinating, go back to your outline and see if you need to make changes.

To overcome writer’s block, be honest with yourself and examine what fears are holding you back from writing.

If self-reflection isn’t enough for you to break through writer’s block or procrastination, set deadlines or break down tasks into smaller chunks so they don’t seem overwhelming. 

Perhaps the best way to overcome these struggles is to use an AI writing tool.

Generalized tools like ChatGPT can help with idea generation, character development, dialogue refinement, plot troubleshooting, and world-building.

Meanwhile, specialized tools like Content at Scale are great for doing research on any topic for a non-fiction book — thanks to their ability to access billions of data points on the internet.

More resources for aspiring authors:

FAQs – How to Start Writing a Book

How do you start a book for beginners?

  • Choose a world you want to immerse in.
  • Find a story idea within this world.
  • Assemble a cast of characters.
  • Plan your ending.
  • Break the story into acts.
  • Start writing before you get cold feet.

How do I write a book with no experience?

  • Don’t write an entire book if you’ve never written fiction before.
  • Learn to write about yourself.
  • Try writing prompts or write fanfiction.
  • Learn from your favorite books or successful authors.
  • Don’t get discouraged before you begin writing.

How much does it cost to start writing a book?

The estimated cost of self-publishing in 2022 is between $150 and $2,000. Some self-published writers will spend tens of thousands on book design, editing, and marketing, whereas others won’t pay a dime.

How do I start as a beginner writer?

  • Enrich your writing habits by reading great books.
  • Never stop learning about different writing styles.
  • Start small.
  • Practice writing with different story ideas as much as you can.
  • Research and give credit where it’s due.
  • Use online tools to check your grammar and originality.
  • Join writing groups to learn from published authors and literary agents.

Conclusion

How to start writing a book can be daunting, yet with the assistance of AI, it doesn’t have to be. With the right guidance and tips for crafting engaging stories and editing your AI-generated manuscript, you can start writing a book that will capture readers’ attention and keep them coming back for more.

AI writing tools are a great way to make sure your book stands out from the competition, whether you’re aiming to become a bestselling author or just want to share your story.

With these tips, you’re ready to start writing your book today! Happy writing!

Written by Julia McCoy

See more from Julia McCoy
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