Writing a Book, Advice from Authors

So, I’ve been working on…something.  A story.  A book.  I have mentioned on this blog before that I get idea, and randomly start writing.  Once I had over 10 pages worth or writing, then something happened and I ended up losing half of it, I got discouraged and stopped writing.  I posted an excerpt of this story on my other blog a while back.  Anyhow, I’ve been working on something new.  Now, I do not claim to be an author, or a writer…well, not outside of writing blogs anyway.  The thing is, I love reading, and I think it’s only natural that when you love something so much to every now and then want to try it yourself.  That is what I do, but more often than not, it ends up sort of like my knitting or crochet projects; a half finished semi-decent looking whatever-it-is.  Every now and then I do actually finish a project.  Sometimes it’s a little lopsided, or not the right size.  Every once in a blue moon, I finish a project and it comes out perfect.   That sounds like the perfect seg-way to me announcing that I have finished a book and it’s perfect, doesn’t it?  Well, that isn’t what has happened….

I’m about 18 word document pages, and almost 12,000 words into a book, and from my own estimation, about a third way through with the story.  Maybe.  This time things do seem to be moving a little bit differently than any of my other creations.  For instance, the story keeps moving forward.  I haven’t come to a breaking point, or a place where I just can’t come up with what happens next.  I have pushed forward on a few occasions, and I’m positive that if I were to go back and read, especially at these points, my story has a lot of jagged edges and rough spots, but I’m very proud to have made it as far as I have.   So here I’m actually having illusions of maybe submitting this work somewhere or having someone look at it.  How have I gotten to this place in my head???  On one hand, I seriously doubt this book is anywhere near that good…but what if it was?  What if I could?  Wouldn’t it be awesome if…..dare I think it?  

As I’ve gotten involved in the blog hops and have jumped around the internet, and in the past year have been increasingly coming in contact with self-published authors and aspiring authors, and I am realizing how extremely competitive and equally hard this business really is.  I really don’t know that I have what it takes to put up with that competition.  I sort of want to try though.  But for now, I’m going to write my story, because it continues to play out in my head and I HAVE TO GET IT OUT.  It’s kind of like when I’ve got a song stuck in my head and the only way I can be satisfied is if I listen to the actual song.  I hold off for as long as possible, but eventually I’m going to pull out my iPod and find the song that has been pestering me.  That is what my book is doing to me.  Even when I have a million other things to do, I’m being called back to my word document, because…what if I can’t remember how I want said scene to play out?

So what is the point of this post, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I needed some advice on HOW to write in first person.  Hmm..that came out wrong, as I do know how to do it.  Maybe, I need advice on what is the best method for writing in first person, is more accurate.  Do you write as the story is happening, this making all the tenses present, slipping in the past when necessary; or do you write as the person is telling their story and it’s all past tense?  I’m pretty darn sure, almost positive in fact, that my current work has a mishmash of both and is going to require a major fix on my part.  I’m dreading that.  Assuming I move forward with editing that is.  But I wanted to Google to see if anyone had written any advice on writing in first person format, and what was best to do…and instead came up with an article where many authors wrote down their ten rules, or ten pieces of advice for if someone who wants to be a writer.  This has absolutely nothing to do with what I was looking for, but enjoyed it none-the-less.  So below is the link to the article (please note there are two parts) and I have highlighted a few of my favorites below as well.  I will say, however, I did not agree with some of what was advised.  In fact, most of the first one I wanted to throw out the window because some of the “don’ts” mentioned in the first ten have been some of my favorite aspects of some of my more recent favorite books.  I can see how they would become annoying if over used though.

What I found most interesting was how each author interpreted their mission a little differently.  There is advice on how to chose a topic, on writing grammatically, on how to persevere, what to do in preparation, or just simply the content.  It seems as though they all answered a different question:

Elmore Leonard: My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Margaret AtwoodHold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

Roddy DoyleDo not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

Helen DunmoreFinish the day’s writing when you still want to continue.

Geoff Dyer:  Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to per­severance. But writing is all about ­perseverance. You’ve got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of ­going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That’s what writing is to me: a way of ­postponing the day when I won’t do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.

Neil Gaiman: Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

Anne Enright:  Only bad writers think that their work is really good.

Hilary Mantel:  Write a book you’d like to read. If you wouldn’t read it, why would anybody else? Don’t write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time your book’s ready.


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