So, you have a story

Everybody has one. The funny tales you made up while randomly looking at a candy wrapper, the fanfic you wrote when a series’ ending left you unsatisfied, a fully outlined novel plotted scene-by-scene on a notebook when you were in high school. Yes, those stories. Stories you loved when you were young. Stories that made you laugh and cry and swoon. Stories that came from the well of your heart.

But things don’t just spill on a page. Words don’t write themselves – boy, how we wished they do! Words doesn’t always like to be written. They’re mean, moody, and usually had to be forced out and bent to behave. And there’s no keeping those words; they haunt us, keep us tossing and turning in our beds, deprive us of sleep, bother us at work. Stories demand to come alive. The plot? Screaming. The trope? Swooning. The characters? They’re making a riot right before you write them, so you better start catching up.

It looks glamorous from the outside but really, a writer’s life is 100% slaving away for a story.  But there’s joy in it. There’s this unexplainable feeling of racing to your word count and finally typing in, “The End.” You know how this goes. There’s cake and champagne after. The grueling fight with this chunky monster of a tale is done.

Now, the question is, what happens after? What becomes of your story?

It’s time to birth a book

Not all stories are alike, and not all stories become books. Many amazing stories were rejected many times at first. Surprisingly, a lot of mediocre ones got published. There’s no one size fits all formula – getting your story in book form always requires talent, intention, and perseverance.

And perhaps, a nice dash of good luck.

Actually, a lot of luck.

But there are ways to ensure that your book is among the better ones. Take a good look at your draft and check if you’ve got everything on this list.

  • Your awesome MC vibes with your intended audience. They fit the right age group and they’re the perfect hero to bring your story to life. You let them wear their hearts on their sleeve and they showcase their diversity with pride. Doesn’t matter if they’re stereotypes – everyone is, in a way – but there’s something special in them that only you get to write. They’re not just one-dimensional dudes, you gave them arcs. You gave them mistakes. You gave them the courage to go through those mistakes and they all win in the end. Yay!
  • Your voice has rhythm, beat, and flow. You’re not telling the story like a tired old grandma sitting in her rocking chair and ready to sleep. Grandmas shouldn’t be bothered when they’re ready to sleep. You’re showing off your voice’s color and you’ve gone unhinged. No one is asking you to sound like a rapper, by the way, unless there are rapping parts in your story. Cool.
  • You understand your genre and your story reflects it. Contemporary? You’ve got an arsenal of hit slangs and your writing is crisp, springy, and sharp. Fantasy? You’re ready to go on full dreamy mode with your lush worldbuilding. Historical? You’ve read enough books of the past, you know the dates and aren’t guessing them. Literary? That entire chapter was a complete metaphor and wow, we never knew that was coming!
  • You’ve got a swoon-worthy title. Okay, so maybe you’re following the usual template, or you’ve thought of a one-word wonder that will instantly charm your readers. Awesome. Whatever you choose, make sure it echoes the soul of your book. But please don’t go over 15 words.
  • You have gone through revisions. That’s not your first draft, right? I mean, you’ve read it, edited it, trimmed it a few times, and got the plot holes solved. Yes? Good. By this time, you’ve become so acquainted with your story that it’s easier to spot unnecessary things. Make it sharp. Make it clear. Make it worth the read.
  • You are aware of the word counts and you’re following the rules. If your middle-grade contemporary story has soared to over 120,000 words, maybe you want to cut it in half. Or a third. Seriously. YAs are meant to be in the 80,000 range – but you’re allowed to go over some thousands more if you’re writing Fantasy. Word counts are important and you want to be in the right range before submitting. See the guidelines via Writer’s Digest.  

A personal tip: Save your first draft as another file. Your second draft as another. Never, ever dismiss the importance of your first drafts, because if your story becomes completely different as you revise, you will always have the original draft to come back to. Also: you could recycle the old concepts in your future projects. You don’t have to lose all the magical words you wrote.


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