Yeah, yeah, you smell something burning… 🙂

Discussion yesterday with a young lady at the library who is breaking in as an author. In the two hardest possible genres, romance and young adult (YA). She indie too (self-published via Amazon). And does everything including her covers herself. I have nothing but admiration for her. I can’t/won’t do that…

It got me to thinking how lucky I am, to have a group of folks that I can bounce ideas off of, throw chapters at, and get HONEST feedback (along with speling erors, and stuf).

You can read a bunch of books on writing, how to write, how to plot, how to yada, yada, yada.

BUT, the bottom line, IMHO, is we’re all different in how and why we write. THAT is the bottom line, words on ‘paper’, either literally, or metaphorically, on the computer. Sparse, verbose, how ever you write, it’s WORDS ON PAPER.

Whether you’re a plotter, outliner (short or long), or write by the seat of your pants (pantser), you have to actually write. I don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, etc on the first pass, I’m just trying to get words on paper. There have been books where I wrote the prologue first, then the epilogue, THEN had to go back and write the middle. Another thing is never EVER throw anything away. If it doesn’t work in ‘this’ book, it may work in ‘that’ book. I keep those chapters, ideas, etc. in a spares folder.

How much you write is governed by your lives. 8 hours a day, 1 hour a day, 3 hours a week. It doesn’t make any difference, as long as you’re writing. 200 words, 2500 words, do what you can.  I wrote on airplanes and in hotels before I retired for the second time. Not saying that was the ‘best’ way to do it, but it saved me money on the bar bills… LOL

And you’re not going to get rich… Times have changed in so many ways. Indie did us all a favor, but it has also widened the ‘pool’ if you will. From 2 million to over 8 million books available on Amazon.

So… That wheelbarrow full of money?  Here ya go…

John from over at No Lawyers- Only Guns and Money gave me this years ago, if I remember correctly, he’d had some of them done when folks were talking about monetizing blogs… We know how well THAT worked out…

Anyhoo, back to writing. The old saw is write what you know. Not doing that, Leavenworth doesn’t hold any attraction for me. Okay, what ELSE do I know. Hrmm… Guns… A little bit about law enforcement… A little bit about surveillance… A good bit about south Texas… A good bit about military… And away I went.

People say you have to write a million words to get better, and honestly, looking back at my first effort, I can only agree. Still amazed people read that, and liked it…

I’ve been told more than once, I’m more of a storyteller than a writer, per se. That’s fine with me.  I don’t write the Perfect Character™, because that has always been one of my pet peeves. My characters are based on composites of folks that I’ve known, so no, I didn’t know your daddy, or your momma, or your sister. But if I got that close, I’ll take it! 🙂

For TGM, I’ve tried to keep the novels very realistic, and I think I’ve been fairly successful at that, without giving any current tech away. For the MilSF, I tried to mix hard SF with possibilities from research I’ve done.

That brings me to my  next point. Research is good! The more ‘realistic’ the scenario, settings, distances, etc. the better off you are. The last thing you want to do is throw the reader out of the story. BUT the last thing you want is a three page infodump. I tend to use sparse descriptions, figuring that my readers have good minds, and everyone ‘builds’ their own characters, settings, and populates the scenarios based on those descriptions I provide.

Granted, that does come back to bite me, when I get told rather vehemently that (insert character) doesn’t have THAT attribute.

The last thing may sound strange, but it’s good, IMHO, to have more than one story running at a time. That way, if you get stuck, you can always go to another story, and potentially kick start the muse on the first one.


Thoughts… — 16 Comments

  1. No matter what I thought as a child, books don’t magically spring from the author’s mind onto the shelves of the library.
    The more I learn the more I realize what a huge amount of skill and the huge amount of work it takes to get the novel into my hands.

    I don’t think I thank you enough.

    Thank you. (now get back to writing!)

  2. The research is important. Get things right. Please! I’ve had more than one story at least partially ruined by a writer who knew nothing about a topic and then made stuff up about it.

  3. Do you find many writers have a compulsion to write?

    The perseverance and, yes, courage to finish and offer for publications I admire.

    My ex-wife is a brilliant writer who has never, ever, finished anything. Years ago at a book fair in Seattle, she was offended by J.J. Jance who suggested she needed to “work”. Is that what separates published authors from wannabes?

    • Writing stories is easy.

      *Finishing* is a whole different thing. And then actually sending it off for cruel editors to roach-stomp is yet another…

      Though I’m seeing more and more stories where the author should have stepped away from the keyboard 30,000 words ago.

      Write. Stop. Send it off. Start the next. Though if you’re indy, you can opt out of the “send it off, wait, try again, lather, repeat” cycle and go straight to “publish.”

  4. So why didn’t you introduce us to the author from the library

  5. John/CP- yes, sir! 🙂

    Jim- I do my damnest NOT to do that!

    WSF- One of the things, yes. The other is shooting the writer and getting on with publication… LOL

    Hammer- I would have, if I actually knew her last name… sigh My bad…

  6. The only writing I’m half ways good at is technical writing.

    And in looking back at some of the early things I wrote, I’d say “million words to get it right” is about right!

  7. Hey Old NFO;

    Well I liked your first book, although I bought it because of loyalty to you since I consider you a good friend. I was very surprised by how good it actually was. I buy your subsequent books because of the quality of the writing. I like your books because they are “believable” and a good story.

  8. When I was in grad school the thing that separated the “perpetual grad students” from the “in-out-and-done” students was butt time, as in the determination and self discipline of keeping rump in chair in archive for as long as it took. And then to keep rump in office chair to write up the research and defend it.

    I find fiction writing is not all that much different. Alas. 🙂

  9. Bob- Thanks!

    Skip- Thank you, and not everybody is an SF fan… sigh

    TXRed- Sadly, no… And one reason, among many, that I don’t hold any advanced degrees, unless one counts real world experience!!! 🙂