“Oh, so you’re an author? Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a book.” If I had a dollar, right?
In fact, I’ve decided to pen a number of “sessions” to help first timers get their book on track. These sessions will be very much the lessons I’ve learned as a writer, a few handy tips and one or two tricks. Along the way, if there’s something you think I should cover, or haven’t covered sufficiently well enough, or even take exception to, just let me know. These won’t be scholarly sessions. There’s no MBA in Creative Writing backing them up, just so that you know. It’ll more a practical “how to” sort of ride, as the headline above says.
Okay, so…referencing the first line of this discourse, most people probably do have a book in them (I’m talking fiction here). It might even be a great book, but don’t have a clue how to get the job done. Or even how to start. And when they do start, for all too many would-be authors their story wanders off or peters out or the author gets lost in the plot, as they say. And whereas at the beginning of the writing process these first-timers were saying to their friends, “No I can’t go to the pub, I’m writing,” soon they’re calling around issuing invitations to the pub. Any excuse to avoid the keyboard and in no time that book becomes a forgotten project.
Or there’s the one where friends and family are asked to read an incomplete manuscript. The report is usually pretty good, because friends and family don’t want to “black hat” you. Mostly the response is along the lines of, “Gee it’s gonna be a great book – can’t wait to see how it ends.” For whatever reason this small victory rarely spurs the writer on to pull the finger out and finish the job. Perhaps the fact that they’ve had a crack is enough. Perhaps it’s the boredom of the task, not to mention the weight of it, that seems to set in after around three months (three months seems to be the average length of commitment for most spontaneous endeavors – a diet, the gym, relationships). Of course, I’m not saying this will happen. Just beware the trap.
It all boils down to one painfully self-evident truth that’s impossible to refute: no one else will finish your book for you.
Something else to be aware of is that for every buhzillionaire author like J.K Rowling, there are a hundred thousand others who are delighted to earn around $10,000 from book sales. And for every one of these hundred thousand, there are several hundred thousand more who bank significantly less. The point here is to ask yourself, “Why am I writing?” The drive to tell a great story is the purest and best motivation of all, and the one most likely to sustain you through your labor. Of course, you just may be the next J.K.R. Who’s to say you aren’t, at least until that manuscript you’re busting to write is revealed to the world, right?
And the really good news is that, if simply getting published is your end goal, then it’s easier today than it has ever been to see your story in print. But I’ll talk about that last (no peeking, now…).
Ok, so let’s assume you really do have a great book in you but, like a bad case of constipation, the process of getting it out is proving hemorrhoidal. Let’s see if together we can’t work through that situation and remedy it. I’ve written ten published novels, and nine of them did well. As for the one that didn’t, no one’s perfect. I’ve also had a few false starts, the odd swine in among the pearls. But each success and failure has taught me important lessons about writing, especially the failures and the pigs. In short, I believe I can help.
And so, with the intro done, let’s begin at the beginning.
#1. What’s your idea for your book? But first, what’s an idea?