Friday, February 25, 2011

Writing a Book - So You Want to Tell a Story

Amateur writer here. Amateur in wealth only, meaning I haven't been paid for my writing. I have written two novels! As well as many short stories, several poems and even a few songs (complete with notes!).

Being unpublished (except for one online poem a year ago and a zoo horoscope this fall) - who am I to give advice about writing? Well, it doesn't take a genious to write a book. Look at Snookie. Wait a minute...

This series of posts is for anyone who might want a little advice, as well as for myself. I've been writing, researching, querying, contest entering, submitting and blogging for almost two years now (a baby compared to many, but 2 years for me is 14 years for a dog - random). Writing things down is how I manage my time and remember things. And blogging about it might help others - which is one of my favorite things to do!

So you want to tell a story. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
  • What's it about?
  • Does it have a beginning, middle and end?
  • Do you know enough about it? Have experience or researched?
  • Is it worth telling? Will others want to read it besides your mom?
If you can answer these questions and still feel good about your story, go for it! Here is how my writing process starts:
  1. The basic outline - this is the beginning and here it takes place, these are the characters and what they're like, something happens, the main character (MC) has to do something about it, he gets help or is hindered along the way, he finally solves the problem and everyone dies or lives happily ever after...how's that? did I nail your story? Like I said, basic outline - this is how it goes. What sets you apart is how you tell it and describe it and make your reader feel it. I think that's called "voice." (I'm a tad facetious)
  2. Rough draft  - feel like you're back in 11th grade English? Older teacher in frilly tone, "Now, class, it is time to begin your rough draft on what you did this summer." Take your outline and paper with you wherever you go. You never know when you'll have time or inspiration. You should see my first rough draft - I recycle, half of it is on the back of maps, reservations and travel plans from our trip to the Grand Canyon. But I have to write the ideas down when they hit me or I will forget them! I have a pad of paper in my purse and in every room of my house. BTW, your rough draft doesn't have to be handwritten, that's up to you. Paper is lighter than my computer (and I just got an ipad, but typing on it isn't easy).
  3. Type it up - finishing the rough draft is quite an accomplishment in itself. Good job! Now take the rough draft and make it sparkly. Impress yourself with your words. Show the action. Imagine yourself in the scenes. Make yourself laugh. Make yourself angry or sad. Hopefully these feelings will transfer from your story to your readers.
  4. Don't give up - that is advice for everything and I've said it before. If you get stuck or even bored, leave it alone for a while. Write something else. Read something! Do some research. Go back and read what you've written so far. You will come back refreshed and motivated. And before you know it, you're almost at the end and you're a little disappointed that it's over. Take heart. It ain't over by a long shot.
If writing is for you - awesome! Paperbacks may vanish away someday but writing never will. We need stories! Just stand around the "water cooler" at work or browse a random facebook page - every Tom, Dick and Jane has a million of em. It takes perseverance to write it all down and patience to make it good.

So get writing! Just don't quit your day job - even many published authors have a back up plan. This industry isn't supporting many families nowadays.

5 comments:

Sonia said...

Very good advice. I love that writing is an ever evolving and learning process.

Tara Tyler said...

Thanks, Sonia. Do you have a blog? Are you on AW? Just tell me if I'm being nosey.

Tara Tyler said...

Wait. I found it...! It didn't come up with your name. Thanks for following!

Amy Mullis said...

Keep your positive outlook! It's wonderful!

Tara Tyler said...

Thank you =) I think it's easier to be positive when you're just starting out, but I hope to stay so!