Writing the Book You Want to Read (Even When You’re Not an Expert in the Field)

This post by Sally Hepworth originally appeared on Writer’s Digest on 2/14/15.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison

I’ve always loved Morrison’s saying. The idea that everyone has the potential to write his or her own favorite book is an appealing one, and it’s natural that writers will want to write the kind of books they like to read. But it’s not always as simple as that. What if you enjoy reading about courtroom dramas, and you’re not a lawyer or a judge? What if you love the idea of creating layers to your novel by using architecture, but you’re not an architect?

How do you write the book you want to read if you’re not an expert in the field? Here are a few tricks I learned while writing my debut novel, THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES:


1) Start by making a list of ALL the elements in the book you want to read

The book you want to read is more than just ‘courtroom drama’ or ‘architecture’ or ‘midwives’. While planning your novel, think about all the things that excite you when you read. Do you like a bit of romance? Some mystery? An unforeseen plot twist? (Remember: It’s okay to have more than one of these in your novel, in fact, it’s a good idea). Look at your favorite books and see what they have in common. Ask yourself: what drives the plot in the books I like to read?

Once you have your answers, make a list.

It will look something like this:
– Mystery
– Menace
– High stakes – death?
– Romance

This list will become your roadmap to writing the book you want to read. And once you have your roadmap…


Read the full post, which includes details of four additional steps, on Writer’s Digest.