One of the best things about life is all the characters you get to meet along the way. It’s also a great reason to write books. As many authors will attest, characters in stories are not creations; they are people, with minds of their own. The fact that they don’t have bodies in our world is not relevant at all; some of my favorite people don’t have bodies in our world. What they do have is personality, and a startling amount of free will. They don’t always agree with how the story is going in your outline or in your head, and failing to listen to them can result in the most dire of consequences. They can turn from your best hope of a champion to your most clear antagonist with a swift act or comment. A good character will almost always take the author by surprise at some point.
You know, like people do. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #020 – The Characters”
When it comes time to impress someone with how much goes into writing a book, it’s easy to start listing endless complicated steps. When it’s time to really break it down for the writer on the way to becoming an author, it’s just as easy to take heart. My habit of pointing out that Today’s Writer has it easier than ever may delight some, and annoy others; nowhere is this more true than in the realm of research.
There used to be a lot more know-it-alls in the world, if you don’t remember. Google almost single-handedly put them all out of business, except in the most remote or web-controlled areas. They still talk their shit, of course; but we can point out that it is indeed shit they are talking now. It’s pretty wonderful, except for all those out of work know-it-alls. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #019 – The Research”
It took a lot of living before I figured out that I needed a clear plan and a logical trajectory if I wanted to get anywhere deliberately. It’s hard to say what kind of life I would be living if I hadn’t gone through so many purposeful changes, or if I wasn’t still pursuing the next purposeful change. Setting up a system for self-improvement is a good way to learn to write an outline, it turns out.
When I wrote my first book, I did not use an outline. The next undertaking required that I employ one, for a number of reasons. This is a point I would like to stress before some writers drift away: the need for an outline is more determined by the story than it is by the author. The second point is that any author can benefit from outlining, as can any story. The only reasons to not use an outline is because the author doesn’t feel like using one, or doesn’t know how. They’re not good reasons, but they are reasons. Now let’s look at some of the reasons why outlines benefit the author, especially the author who is or may become interested in taking things to the next level. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #018 – The Outline”
I love to talk about how good writers have it these days. We’re super lucky in so many ways, simply to have the calling that we do. Some authors may feel like they chose to write books; many of us feel that writing chose us, or that there was no choice. There’s a part of us that has to write, to get those stories or ideas out there in the best way we can, and not stop no matter how many times we type ‘The End’. It’s nice to realize that the thing that chose you has so much flexibility and longevity built into it, and that those things are getting better every day.
Did you ever dream of being an athlete? I didn’t. I knew back then what they’re finally telling us now: the most rewarding sports are the most dangerous, and success still means minimal brain damage and constant pain for the long period of your life where you can no longer compete with others. One season of football in junior high taught me that smacking into someone or something full speed gave me headaches and an inability to focus. That’s American football, by the way. There was no organized futbal (uh, soccer?) going on in high school when I was a kid, and even those guys retire awful young; so I withdrew back into drawing and reading. Like public school programming, I realized pretty early on that eager participation would result in the loss of some precious part of me that I would need later, so I withdrew for the most part from both. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #017 – In It For The Long Haul”
I’m a big fan of meeting readers. I think it’s important for authors to figure out just who will love their books, and do their best to introduce them to each other. There are a variety of ways to do this, and I’m only barely getting started. However, as I pointed out before, I am here to help the writer who is where I was a few years ago. When I need advice, I look for folks one or two levels up from me. I know that trying to do things like someone five levels up will not work at my level. If you don’t understand levels, think deeply on this subject if you want to get anywhere but where you are. If you deny the existence of levels, or think they aren’t fair to point out, I heartily encourage you to get the hell off my page.
For the rest of us, a good understanding of levels is essential. For authors, a good understanding of their readers is equally important. Some research can be done at home, and it can be done easily once you slap a few labels on your book. Find your genre, and your sub-genre, and then find out what your key demographic is. You can reverse engineer this if you want to write with the reader in mind; pick your audience, and then write what they read. It’s one of the ideas we’ll explore later, when we talk about where authors go for stories. That’s not the kind of writing we’re discussing here, though; we’re talking about that first book, and it is often written for the author more than the reader. It’s also not always the easiest sell. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #016 – Who’s Reading, Anyway?”
Artists have known for some time what studies are only now starting to report: art is as fulfilling as parenthood. The artist is rewarded by the same chemicals produced while creating their art as parents are by parenthood. All those emotions we thought only belonged to parents actually flow freely in the artist as well. Looking in your kid’s eyes and feeling awash with love is actually exactly the same as looking at your art as it is created and after it is finished. Some would go so far as to say that creating art is potentially much more fulfilling, but we don’t want to insult all those folks that think they’re somehow special because they are popping out babies like so many others. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #015 – Your Books Are Your Babies”
Goals are important for just about anyone who wants to get something difficult done. It’s important to have a timeline, preferably one that both challenges you and gives you a little wiggle room if you stay on track. I learned this the way I have learned many of my lessons. Alas, the hard way is often my way. It doesn’t have to be for you, though; let me tell you what I wish I had known about eighteen months ago. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #014 – Publishing Goals”
Let’s slip back into the time stream as smoothly as possible here. I can rant, and get all lovey, and even wax philosophical from time to time; but I always bring it back around.
I had published my first book when Dawn and I came back into each other’s lives. I had hand-written my second book, the first installment in the ‘Walking Between Worlds’ trilogy. I thought I needed her to get it typed up, and find the right publisher. I thought she needed to keep focusing on the route I had learned about in books. I knew I wanted her to be my partner in life; I thought I needed her to be an assistant of sorts when it came to my books. Yeah, I was wrong about a bunch of things. Luckily, she wasn’t afraid to tell me so. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #013 – Sudden Insight! Publishing!”
Popular phrases are often popular for a good reason. A few choice words arranged just the right way can get us thinking, or inspire us. Sometimes the most obvious ones are the best, even when they’re easy to make fun of. Nike’s sage advice to ‘Just Do It’ is not for people contemplating suicide or murder, although even they can buy the shirt. It’s for folks who have figured out what they want to do with the next moment, or their lives, assuming that thing is positive. No one thinks you should just do whatever pops into your head without thinking it through; that’s not how shoe companies, or lives, are built.
We’ve all heard the one about writers, and it’s another good one. It’s a great thing to do that thing that means the most to you, whatever it is. For some of us, it’s writing. All kinds of stuff goes with writing, though; and it can be as easy to neglect any one of those things as it can be to neglect the writing itself. When the groundwork is done, the writer writes; the writer who writes without planning and preparation is as likely to complete a presentable product as the person who decides to up and run a marathon is to ‘Just Do It’. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #012 – A Writer Writes, Write?”
This will be the most personal post in this series, as far as events from my life go. Feel free to skip it, or like it more than all the others; I certainly hope that one person in particular does. You see, I can’t tell my story without making it a love story at some point. I realized this when I had a good look at my own hierarchy of needs, way back then; but there was no story to tell. Then I made an effort to clean up something from my past, and now I have a love story to tell. Settle in, it’s a pretty good one. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #011 – The Right Partner: A Love Story”