Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Writing Advice

Lately, I've been receiving a lot of email asking for advice on becoming a writer. This has made me think a lot about the tools needed to actually sit down and write a book and, beyond writing the book, what it takes to make the story engaging to a reader.

Last night, I read an email from a thirteen-year-old who asked for tips on how to become an author. I was able to pull from several weeks of thoughts on the subject and pinpoint three key characteristics of a good writer. Those three are listed below along with the advice I provided for the thirteen-year-old. No rocket science here, just commonsense. Sometimes, though, we're so busy looking for the 'secret' to success we forget that there's no secret to it at all.

A writer must be a voracious reader.
One of the most important things you can do to prepare to be a writer is to read a lot. Fiction. Non-fiction. Whatever you can get your hands on! Learn how to write interesting sentences and how to create a compelling scene by studying the work of authors that you like. Then practice using words to paint vivid pictures for your readers. An author who can do this will always have a readership.

An author is a a student of humanity.
Aside from reading and practicing the art of writing, you should also spend time studying people. In order to be a good writer, you must understand how people think and act. You must know what they are doing but also why they are doing it. Studying people will help you create compelling characters that will grab a reader's attention.

An author has an indomitable spirit.
Being a writer means never giving up. Sometimes writers are rejected many times before they are published. Teach yourself to persists even in the face of what seems like failure. After all, God often teaches us the most important lessons when we are at the point where we are ready to give up. Remember that success will happen in God's time, but that His timing does not preclude our hard work. In other words, you must work hard to learn the craft of writing so that you will be ready for whatever writing opportunity God sends your way.


Sabrina L. Fox said...

Thanks, Shirlee! As I sit here waiting, I really needed that last one. :)

Shirlee McCoy said...

How long has it been?

Sabrina L. Fox said...

Not long at all. I'm only in a month. I know I could have a couple more or as much as 6 or 7 more. Who knows? LOL. But it's a fun time, no matter what. :) I actually like the wait a little. It's full of hope and possibilities. Once you get the rejection, you have to start all over. :0/

Sorry to see your family was so sick. We went through that about a month ago. Praying you're all healthy now.

Shirlee McCoy said...

The great thing about waiting is you have something out there. I tend to get in a funky mood when I don't have anything in with an editor. Maybe we're addicted to the drama of it all?

Also, my idea is that the longer the wait the better. It takes time to pass something up to a senior editor. It takes no time at all to write out a rejection.

Are you a member of RWA? Their economic report was really interesting. It named Harlequin as the one publishing house that is not feeling the crunch of hard economic times. I thought of you specifically when I read it because of the following quote - "Stout also said Harlequin is still in the market for new talent. 'We are always very excited to have new authors because it's a new voice,' she said."

It was a great article. If you don't have it and want more info, email me for the details.