I have written four books so I can offer some helpful advice on this subject. My experience can help you by saving you time and effort.

I would suggest starting with short stories to hone your craft. This may not appeal at first, but there are many benefits. Writing short stories helps to develop a writing style and also generates an initial reader base. Readers are essential for helping you to develop characters and plots and are a far better at giving advice than family or friends. The latter are unlikely to give you the sometimes difficult advice you need. Getting positive feedback from a complete stranger is far more satisfying than getting feedback from family. There is also a benefit in engaging with people who like the same genre (science fiction, western, thriller… romance). Family and friends may not read your genre so any advice would be unhelpful.

There are lots of sites to try out your short stories and some sites encourage feedback which will form your reader baseline. This is helpful in determining whether you can connect with readers. These sites also allow you to decide which writing style suits you best and tell you which style or submission is most popular as readers will respond well to your best work. This will help to build your confidence and if your first few stories need some revision then that’s a far easier starting point than writing and having to re-edit an entire book.

Wattpad is useful for publishing short stories. http://wattpad.com and I would suggest starting by looking at and commenting on other people’s stories. That will encourage them to comment on yours, but remember to be polite as you may be on the receiving end of their comments in the future. It is very scary to publish your first story and that anyone can comment on it. Break yourself in gradually and you will gain in ability and confidence. Writing a short story is not easy and is an art in itself and requires a different style to writing a novel. It needs to have an ending that leaves the reader satisfied and engaged.

So, should you start writing in the first person or third. Examples of these are:

“I was mistaken, the cloudless night, with stars shimmering in a soft velvet sky, harboured a far darker secret. I tentatively took a step. First one and then another.”

“He shook his head, doubt gnawing at his innards. The darkness crowded around, like a heavy weight on his shoulders. He wanted to continue, but his feet were leaden.”

Some authors favour one style over the other and some authors write effectively in both styles. Writing a short story and letting others comment on it will help you to see which suits you best. It could also help you to select an appropriate genre.

I have collated a number of articles on writing a book on my blog http://writingabook.ninja so check it out.

Good luck with your writing. David

http://davidburrows.org.uk/ Author of Drachar’s Demons and The Prophecy of the Kings, a fantasy trilogy