Writing fiction by consensus is a sure
path to mediocrity.
How to Write
Why Do Some People Want to Write Stories?
People want to write fiction for a number of reasons.
Mostly the distinctions among those reasons are blurry; and
for some, it can be confusing or depressing to try to sort
them out. So let's forget the artificial classifications of
why people want to write and just muddle about with some
ideas on the matter.
People want to write fiction for a number of reasons. Mostly
the distinctions among those reasons are blurry; and for
some, it can be confusing or depressing to try to sort them
out. So let's forget the artificial classifications of why
people want to write and just muddle about with some ideas
on the matter.
The first motivation that comes to mind is simply
liking the idea of being a writer, preferably a rich and
famous one. People are sometime enamored by the
lifestyle of the stereotypical freelance writer; you know,
the author person who works alone through odd hours of day
and night, has quirky habits such doing origami with
discarded pages of earlier drafts, and is immersed in
exciting worlds of imagination. That lifestyle doesn't work
out well for many real writers, but I might work out for
you. If you want to live like that and reach for the
pinnacle of writing success, you can do it. There is nothing
wrong with that dream. It can, and does work. What's more,
you don't have to be a very good writer, because you are
counting on good luck and great connections in the business
to get ahead.
Another kind of reason for wanting to be a fiction writer
is to find a suitable outlet for this freekin' creative
urge--the one that simply won't go away, even after you've
done all the reasonable career things like going to college
and becoming a professional something-or-other who draws a
regular salary. Maybe you see things embedded in everyday
events that others do not, or perhaps you are totally
fascinated by a certain period of history, or with certain
kinds of personalities. Wow! You really have to be careful
about letting your imagination create interesting
personalities that you insert into an dramatic situation. A
budding novelist or storyteller cannot watch the evening
news without coming across an event that can be turned into
a story. If you feel like this, you have the passion of a
writer. You don't have to obsess over finding story lines;
you can find them 24-hours a day on CNN.
For some other people, writing and selling their work
just sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe this is the foundation
of your writer's dream. You can approach writing as a hobby
or creative pastime. Maybe you will sell something, maybe
not. The least you can do is put up some short stories on
Amazon's Kindle for a couple of dollars and see how it goes.
So what are the reasons people dream of pursing the life
and profession of a storyteller? Well, as I mentioned
earlier, there are lots of reasons. But if you take the
three I've described here, mash them all together and mix
them around. You will have a decent idea of why people go
into the business and craft of fiction writing. I cannot
think of a fatally bad reason for doing it.
Okay, so that's my commentary on "why" you might choose a
career as a fiction writer. Now it is time to turn to the
Something like four out of five new business start-up
fail by the fifth year. That's only a twenty percent success
rate, but it's huge compared to the success rate of wannabe
fiction writers. You have to love something about writing to
stay with it, because it can be a very harsh taskmaster. It
can challenge your physical health, your mental stability,
your ego, your self-confidence, bury your self-esteem, and
screw up your credit rating. But when you are anchored to
your dream, you can't just walk away from the messes. You
get back to writing and set about cleaning up the messes the
best you can.
What's the first rule of writing? You probably already
know: Write, write, write, and write some more. Write
when you feel like it and write when you don't. When you
finish a work, begin another immediately. It's deadly awful
to wait around while your manuscript is circulating among
agents or editors. Forget the completed project and
concentrate on the next.
What's the second rule of writing? Read, read, read, and
read some more. Why is this important? Because it provides a
healthy influx of new ideas and standards for your own
writing. A serious wannabe author has no good reason to fret
about spelling, grammar, and style while reading extended
examples of good spelling, grammar, and style on a regular
There is a bourgeoning industry out there that is
built from ground up to assure you they can ease your
transition from unpublished to published author. But if
you have the inner sprit of a successful author, you
know there are no short cuts and no panacea for the pain
of obscurity. -DaveH
When you need reliable advice on
writing fiction, go to authors who have mainstream
publishing credentials and receive regular royalty
checks. Very few college writing profs qualify, and most
writer's workshop leaders don't make the grade, either.
Stop talking about it and just start doing it.
Don't pay someone else to do the grunt work
(do your promoting, check your spelling and grammar,
maintain your website and blog, find publishers, etc.).
It's YOUR grunt work, and you must whip it into
something that is beautiful and part of your reputation
as someone very special.
Get your work out into the public arena any way
you can, and lots of it. Do it for free until your
public (not you) thinks it's worth paying for.
Don't obsess about someone "stealing" your
material. You can always out-produce any screwed-up
wannabe, in both quantity and quality.
Don't create your "masterpiece," then sit back to
see what happens. Produce all the time. Never stop,
and don't look back. What you did yesterday is history.
What you are producing now is your tomorrow.
Don't quit your day job.
Respect higher education, but don't fall for
the idea that it entitles you to anything special. Don't
use schooling as an excuse for putting off the real work
that needs to be done.
Pray that your life partner is a patient and
understanding soul, because you aren't going to be
everyone's ideal partner.