How to Start a book in 15 minutes or less

So, you want to write a book. That’s awesome! You’ve thought for weeks, months, or even years about your plot and characters. But now that you’re ready to sit down and write you might find yourself drawing a blank while staring at the dreaded blank page.

BRAINSTORM YOUR BOOK'S GENERAL PLOTUnfortunately, this itself can be so suffocating that you never start your story.

Fortunately, you’re not alone in this struggle.

To help, I’ve created this quick guide on how to start a book in 15 minutes or less. Ready to start your own Great American Novel? Let’s get started!

How to Start a Book: Brainstorm

Before you can start your book you first need to brainstorm. By this, I mean you need to think more than your general plot outline. You need to think through who the story is about, what challenges and achievements they’ll face along the way, and ultimately how it’s going to end.

Writer’s tip: I usually struggle with pre-planning the ending. I find that when I start fleshing out the story, the conversations and character development leads me in a different direction. That’s why I usually think through several ways it could end. Having an open relationship with my book’s ending helps me not feel stuck when developing and writing my story.

This step, which you’ve likely already started, helps you lead into the next step, which is starting your outline.

Outlining Your Book

After you spend a few minutes brainstorming your book the next thing you want to do is to work on outlining your book. This will take up the bulk of your 15 minutes since it’s the most in-depth, but that’s quite alright. After all, this outline is basically the backbone of your entire book.

When working on your outline, focus on each chapter like it were a scene in a movie. Think about whose eyes we’re seeing this scene play out from, where the scene takes place, the characters involved, and what specifically happens.


This is the first outline I created for my first novel, Lost Girls. In this outline, I give an in-depth overview of what happens in each scene, where it takes place, who we’re following, and then some chapter notes instead of tracking word count since I wasn’t too concerned with it at the time.

OK But How do I Start a Book in 15 Minutes

The outline above wasn’t something I created in 15 minutes. Instead, this was a document that I went back to several times in the early writing process. That’s why each block scene summary is so long. More realistically, your first outline will be very short and lack detail. But who cares! Just like a first draft, no one is going to see your first outline so make it as vague as you need with the perfect amount of details.

HOW TO START A BOOK IN 15 MINUTES OR LESSWhen you’re working on your first outline, try and write what you want to happen in 5 sentences or less. This helps you to have enough information to remember where you’re going, but enough detail to continue the story alone scene by scene. Plus, as I said, once you have your first outline complete then comes the fun part of fleshing out each scene into a full summary of everything that takes place in a particular chapter.

On Your Marks, Get Set, Go: Start Your Book

With these tips in hand, you have everything you need to get started on your next or first book. Either way, you’ll find that in just 15 short minutes you’ll be on your way to publishing your masterpiece in little to no time at all.

Start your timer and get writing!

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