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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (_afkbookworm_) Hi, I've seen that more and more people are writing books and becoming authors now.

I'm one of those people that thinks of the weirdest things, but then in my mind I turn them into little movies, and I was wondering if I should try writing.

The reason I'm asking is because I'm not that good at the actual writing because I tend to get stuck as what to write half way through and things like that.

So really I'm asking If anyone has any advice or tips. Thanks. :)

Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) I only started writing about two years and the main advice I can give is to just give it a go. I'd advise against looking for lists of dos and don'ts, simply because they'll fill your head with meaningless little rules.

Think of it as trying to ride a bike - the rules such as 'keep your balance' and 'keep your legs tucked in' don't really make any sense until you've figured it out for yourself.

The very first story I wrote back then was a mere 4000 words long, yet at the time it felt like an unmanageable epic that I would never be able to master.

The stories I wrote after that gradually became longer and longer until I got the hang of it.

Don't worry if your first story is only a few hundred words in length, as it's not really that important.

If you're stuck for ideas try and think of a subject or a time in history that interests you. I'm a WWII nut so that first story was set during that period.

message 3: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (_afkbookworm_) Thanks Michael, I'm more of a romance person so I'll give it a go. :)

message 4: by T.R. (new)

T.R. Goodman (trgoodman) I agree with Michael. I started seriously writing about a year and a half ago, but I made the mistake of reading so many books on writing craft that I was terrified that everything I wrote would be terrible.

Sure, some of it was, but the point was that it kept me from writing at all, and the only way to get better at writing is do read a lot and write a lot.

Start with something simple, maybe a couple's first flirtatious meeting in a coffee shop or at the supermarket. Or you can get really crazy and make their first meeting a fender-bender or one of them serving papers to the other.

Start with just the one scene and build from there. If your biggest problems are finishing things and lack of experience, write a bunch of short scenes. Romantic dinners, first meetings, arguments, all the sorts of things that might someday make it into a novel.

Just keep practicing and you'll keep getting better. As you finish more and more things, it will become a habit.

And don't let anyone, especially yourself, tell you that you can't do it. Not everyone is going to become a Tom Clancy or a JK Rowling, but anyone can be a writer. All you have to do is write.

message 5: by Julie (new)

Julie Raust | 22 comments I would recommend going for it. The worst thing to have is regrets.

I can relate to your dilemma. I've been writing half stories since I can remember but could never finish one. And I certainly didn't think any of them were good enough to publish.

I recently took the plunge. I finished and published one short story and one novella this year. It was scary, but I would never go back. Sales or no sales, this is what I love to do.

There's a lot to be said about doing what you love. I wouldn't trade my decision for anything.

Good luck and I hope you go for it!
Julie :)

message 6: by William (last edited Aug 28, 2013 03:19PM) (new)

William Stacey (williamstacey) Hello Jessica,
the only hard and fast recommendations (note I'm not calling them rules) are to read consistently and write consistently--like every day, or very close to that. Study the authors you love and constantly work on your craft.

Other than that, there are many good writing novels out there; I own a small library of Writers Digest books, and I've loved them all. You can join an online critique group (I found excellent). There's Writers Digest (I have a subscription). I'd also strongly recommend Steven Kings novel On Writing (I read it every year).

Tons of resources out there, but the only problem with writing books is that you often spend way too much time reading about writing when what you should be doing is writing. I think you have to find a balance.

Best of luck in whatever you choose.

message 7: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) Jessica wrote: "Hi, I've seen that more and more people are writing books and becoming authors now.

I'm one of those people that thinks of the weirdest things, but then in my mind I turn them into little movies,..."

Write. Don't worry whether it's crap, just get it on the page. *Afterwards,* you can edit. *Afterwards,* you'll know whether you have something.

And read. A lot.

message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie Raust | 22 comments Oh, and one more piece of advice...

If you're unsure of your skills, have your work professionally edited before you put it out there.

I always have someone edit my work. I'm not ashamed to admit that I still make some pretty basic mistakes, but I want to ensure I put my best work forward when sharing it with the public.

Hope this helps.

message 9: by L.F. (new)

L.F. Falconer | 41 comments Writing is a journey you can only learn by doing it, and one in which you will never stop learning. So just take that first step and go girl! :)

message 10: by Amber (new)

Amber Forbes (thedancingwriter) | 11 comments I would recommend just writing, learn the basics, and try to ignore so-called advice given on what makes great writing because those rules are very in-the-box.

message 11: by Toni (new)

Toni | 92 comments Hi Jessica,
I am a new writer too. Started 4 years ago. Tried to go the route of finding ab agent, etc. Now I am looking into self pub. I wasn't sure if I could pull this off either. Much like you, i see little snippets in my mind, like movies. So I write around that main scene in my head, either working up to it or starting with it. Once I get started the characters take on a life of their own and sometimes do things I didnt even see coming. I know it sounds crazy. But once you start writing, you'll be surprised what comes out. Some writers outline an entire book before writing. Some just write. I just write. You'll find your own style once you get started. The most.important thing is to just get it down on paper ( computer) whatever. Then step away, write something else, and then go back and tweak and fix and tweak sone more. Once satisfied it's the best you can make it, look into trustworthy beta readers. That's the point I am at now. Beta readers can give you an honest review and make great suggestions. So my advice; start writing. You never know until you try. Good luck hon

message 12: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (catwithkeyboard) “You learn to write by writing, and by reading and thinking about how writers have created their characters and invented their stories. If you are not a reader, don't even think about being a writer.”
― Jean M. Auel

I don't think anyone can say it better really. Obviously your a reader so all you can do now is write and see what happens. Once you feel your ready you can try your hand at NaNoWriMo . Its one of the hardest things I've done but my writing is so much better for it.

message 13: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (_afkbookworm_) Thanks for all the advice and stuff guys! I've started writing something yesterday it's kind of similar to hunger games but it's changing it to something I thought of (before I knew of The hunger games)!

message 14: by Jason (new)

Jason Parent | 39 comments Good luck, Jessica. Above all, write what you love to write!

message 15: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (_afkbookworm_) Thanks Jason.

message 16: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) Snippets are a good way to start. I write snippets all the time. Last night I got an idea for a new book, and I wrote 800 words. It might not go anywhere, but then again, it might.

message 17: by Leo (new)

Leo Robertson (leoxrobertson) All great advice! I concur.

Recently completed a creative writing course that covered poetry, short stories and novels, so practiced writing each and realised that (at least for me) some ideas are poem-sized, some short story-sized and some novel-sized. Whichever it is, the idea will stay in your head until you write it in one of the formats, then your head is clear to find the next idea and the next and the next.

And like everyone's said, worry about quality later. Don't read what you've written until it's done :-)

message 18: by Julia (new)

Julia Bramer | 9 comments Jessica, write! You have stories in your head, so bring them to life! It's all about the story. I relate to you and have all these tales swirling around in my mind, many of them erotic (after reading Fifty Shades), and I finally have the time to write them down. I exercise by walking and an hour passes quickly because I'm thinking about the next scene in the story, which you might understand.

Halfway through my first novel, which I self-published only months ago, I asked myself "what the hell am I doing?", and then I thought if I don't try, I'll never know.

Now I'm almost finished with the sequel and I'm a little sad, because the characters have become a part of me, but I have another story percolating.

You can attend every creative writing class offered, but unless you sit down in front of your computer and write, your weird stories will not be told.

Best of luck, Jessica!

message 19: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 7 comments Read successful authors in the genre you choose and study their writing techniques. As others have said, just write and leave the editing for later. Put your writing aside for a few days or weeks, then go back to it. Over time you'll acquire a "feel" for which parts need more work. In fact, you might even surprise yourself when you read parts that turned out quite good! We've all had those moments when we look over our work later and think, "Wow, did I write this?" :)

message 20: by Jeff (new)

Jeff (jeffdamron) | 3 comments Some good advice here. I just finished and published my first book. That is something I've thought about doing my whole life, but I was 51 before I started. In the beginning, I thought I would submit it to agents and try to get it published the traditional way. But once I finished, I knew I couldn't wait that long to get it out there so I epublished through Amazon.

Over the years, I tried and stopped several novels. I thought that just because I read a lot I could write. And I wanted to write like I enjoy reading - not knowing what was coming next. That never worked for me as I kept writing myself into traps and then couldn't get out. So I eventually bought several books on how to write and started buying Writers Digest and even though all the "rules" can be overwhelming, I disagree with those who say you shouldn't read up on how to write. For me, doing an outline of the whole book, broken into acts with keys scenes carefully plotted to happened at textbook intervals really helped me get through the actual writing. Having a road map of the story arc helped me stay focused and gave me clues as to what I would be writing when I actually got to sit down and type. So my advice would be to read some on how to write, but write while you do it. You can always go back later and apply what you've read when editing and keeping that in mind can help you get over the fact that you violated some rule you just read when you were working on your first draft yesterday.

message 21: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) Jeff wrote: "Some good advice here. I just finished and published my first book. That is something I've thought about doing my whole life, but I was 51 before I started. In the beginning, I thought I would s..."

Good advice, Jeff. The book I recommend is short, but full of good advice.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print Self-Editing for Fiction Writers How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne

message 22: by James (new)

James Bruno (jamesbruno) | 8 comments I heartily endorse Jess's advice as well. Make yourself truly stand out from the many untrained amateurs who are flooding the self-publishing market by a) learning the craft of writing; b) learning the publishing business and marketing; and b) practice a lot.

I'm a completely self-taught writer, having invested countless hours over the years learning the craft, business and just plain reading a lot. There are some really excellent books on the craft of writing. Also, Writer's Digest is a must for any beginner. And there are scores of online writers forums that are very useful.

Becoming an author takes training as with any profession. Invest the time and effort and you'll be well ahead of the pack.

message 23: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaelethies) | 12 comments Here is the thing, writing is about perseverance. No one is going to sit down and write one good novel on the very first draft. In fact, it took me six drafts to get my novel to where I like it and it is ready for readers to see. If you can stick with it you'll be fine. A quote that I'll need to paraphrase from my English professor went something like this:

"Do something for two years, you become great at it. Do something for another five years and you'll become a master at it. Ten years, and you're brilliant."

Writing is all about practice. This next quote is one I actually just made up recently.

"The scariest thing about taking the plunge? You don't know if the water will be deep or shallow."

And although you may not know what you are getting yourself into by writing your book, at least you are doing something that I hope you're passionate about because if you aren't passionate about it than writing is not for you.

message 24: by James (new)

James Bruno (jamesbruno) | 8 comments Friends and acquaintances, after seeing my writing success, often say, "Hey, I wanna write books too!" And they throw themselves into writing a novel. Sometimes they ask my advice on how to go about it. Other times, they don't. Without exception, all have abandoned their effort early on, realizing just how hard it is to compose a story.

When I am asked, I answer: "So, do you love nice houses?" When they reply in the affirmative, I tell them, "Then go ahead and personally build your dream house." When they respond that they lack the requisite building skills, I retort it's the same with writing. Just as you wouldn't attempt to build a house without the necessary skills, you shouldn't think that you can slap up to 100,000 words on paper in a coherent, readable way.

My advice to those intent on becoming an author: invest plenty of time learning the skills of writing -- be it fiction or nonfiction. Read many of the excellent books out there that teach the craft. Take writing courses. Join a writers group. Read, read, read many books in your genre of interest with an eye toward structure, pace, characterization, etc. Subscribe to Writer's Digest. I did this for years before beginning my first novel.

Writing, like house building, is a learned craft. Get the essentials down pat. Then write!

message 25: by C.D. (new)

C.D. (skymama) | 10 comments Write. Join a critique group and be prepared to have your writing torn apart. Fellow writers who are willing to give you honest feedback are pure gold. I firmly believe that kind of input is the fastest way to grow as a writer. It will be incredibly painful, but it's worth it. I recommend checking out Critique Circle.

message 26: by Andrew (new)

Andrew | 6 comments Write every day, even if you can only spare five minutes or so. Some of your writing will be good, some will not, but you have to get in the mindset of writing as much as you can, as often as you can.

Many people say "I've got a great idea for a book." Writers are the ones willing to give up the hours it takes to put that idea on the page, one word after another, even if inspiration isn't flowing that day.

message 27: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Muckley | 18 comments Just go for it. Nobody knows anything at the beginning and first drafts always look like rubbish.

First time mistakes are an edit's best friend!

message 28: by Darin (new)

Darin Preston (sequence77) | 16 comments There are more opinions on writing than there are books and authors combined, so I say that if you are asking the question of "To write or not to write", then the answer is a resounding "YES".

You get one life, no do overs. Leave with as few regrets and what-ifs as you can.

message 29: by Kara (last edited Oct 19, 2013 01:08PM) (new)

Kara Jimenez | 11 comments Remember that the first draft of anything is crap. Just get it out onto the page and then it's completly normal to hate everything you've just written. That's where editing comes in. After 100 drafts or so, you'll finally have something to be proud of. And once it's the best you can make it- make sure you get feedback from others and then edit again- that's how you really grow as a writer.

message 30: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (_afkbookworm_) I seem to have gotten a lot of good advice and hopefully if anyone else is interested in becoming an author this topic is helping them too!

message 31: by Florence (new)

Florence Witkop | 6 comments I've written short fiction for magazines for many years but I never called myself an 'author' until I started writing novels because the two seemed different somehow. But I remember once when a newbie writer asked me to read a story she'd written because she wanted to send it to a magazine in the hopes of getting it published. It was pretty bad and I was wondering what to say to her when my daughter reminded me that I'd written a lot of stuff that was really, really bad and it got published! That put me in my place and reminded me that no one is perfect and everyone can be published.

message 32: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Shea (lisashea) | 188 comments I wholeheartedly agree with those who say to JUST WRITE. Write and write and write. Write every day. The more you write, the easier it gets, and the better you get. You can edit later. There are lots of editors out there who can help you polish your work. But you need something to polish.

I definitely recommend getting a good editor to help you at that stage, though. I do see a lot of typo-filled content on Amazon. It tends to get poor ratings which then stick with that author for the rest of time :). So it's well worth getting some friends to read your work and make sure it's ready before you take that publishing step.

Is anybody else doing NaNoWriMo? That's a great way to build your daily writing habit.


message 33: by Gamal (new)

Gamal Hennessy I suggest two books for people who tell me they want to start writing. On Writing and Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting. Both of these will give you structure, technique and inspiration.

Have fun with your new profession.


message 34: by I.S. (new)

I.S. Anderson (Eman1272) | 14 comments Jessica, there is really only two rules you need to remember when it comes to writing a good story. Everything else is either a tip or just an idea.

1. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, and all other technical aspects count.

2. Make it memorable.

If you would like something more elaborate, you can check out my blog entry on it here

Hope that helps

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