When I was a child, I lived to read. If I didn’t have something to read, I was lost. It didn’t matter what it was, it could have been a book, magazine, back of a cereal box or list of ingredients in a candy bar, but I felt more comfortable in the world when I was reading.
I suppose it’s only natural that I grew up to be a writer. When I was nine years old, I borrowed my brother’s typewriter (read: took without asking) and penned my very first short story. It was an apocalyptic zombie piece, where our entire neighborhood fell prey to the flesh eating monsters. It wasn’t my finest work, but I sure had fun creating it.
I think the part I love about writing is that the stories, all of them, are a reflection of our collective story. Reading is how I learned about life, and also how I learned about writing.
If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to read, preferably in your genre, so you can study the craft. Reading your contemporaries will give you a good sense of what is being published right now and what publishers are looking for. But a warning: don’t write because you think a publisher will like the subject. Write because you’re passionate about the story, write because it’s impossible not to write. That’s what will create the best story.
There’s a lot of good books out there about craft, but I’d suggest the following to get you started: Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass, and Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. Those two books will give you a healthy start on your novel.
Each writer is different in the creative process. Some writers can sit at a keyboard and type a story, making up the plot as they go along. Others, like myself, need to draft an outline of the plot before we start writing. But here’s the super cool part of the creative process: even when I draft an outline, and do a chapter-by-chapter summary before writing, my characters still surprise me with plot twists.
It’s as if a whole new world has been created.
The single most important part of writing a novel, either fiction or non-fiction, is setting a daily word count goal for yourself. Whether it’s 500, 1,000 or 1,500 words per day, the word count goal is what will get you to finish your project. Unfortunately, the words will not magically appear on the paper without you sweating into your keyboard.
There’s a whole lot more that goes into the publishing process, from querying agents to publishers to contracts. If you have a specific question, click on the Contact tab of this website and send me your question.
Keep reading, and keep writing. It makes the world a better place!