Monday, January 3, 2011

Write Right!

I've been writing for over twenty years, sometimes I've even been paid for it which is a phenomena I still have trouble getting used to. Just recently (like about five years ago) I decided I was going to write a novel. I even got encouragement from a few people. I had my theme and my plot and all I needed to do was to find out all the mysteries associated with the process. So I started to read everything I could lay my hands on to find out the best tips and secrets that I thought must be jealously guarded by the top published authors.

When I started out writing, and got paid for my first article it wasn't all that hard. I decided to try to get published in magazines and journals and the like. I had some skills and knowledge in aviation, including model aircraft building and flying, in martial arts and of all things photography. So I bought a whole stack of magazines and sat down to read what was getting published and what the Editors wanted. I wrote to the Editors, introduced myself, and outlined what I knew . One or two Editors even contacted me and expressed an interest. My very first story was published in the American "Soldier of Fortune" Magazine and I received a whole 500 bucks U.S. for it! Wow! I was a published author. Yeah, well. Since then I've had articles published in a variety of magazines and journals but writing for that market is basically writing to an Editorial Formula. They want 2,500 words on this, 3,750 words on that etc, etc, and you write on subjects you know about, or for most of the journals subjects where you have some expertise.

A novel is a whole different ball game. For a start the subject is open but if you want to interest a publisher it better be commercial. There might be a publisher out there who wants to publish a 150,000 word novel on the sexual exploits of a mutated frog but good luck finding them. Then again if you write that one as a fantasy it just might fly! Hmmm.

Anyway, as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself I set out to write a novel and decided I needed to know all the tricks first. There is a teaming multitude of books, articles, precises, lectures and tomes on writing the Great English Novel but, for the most part, they all forget to mention one very important factor - TALENT. It  is an unfortunate fact of life that some people write 200,000 words and do all the right things as far as layout, pace, character building etc, etc and then they send a very correctly worded  querie and a precise synopsis of their work to the best, carefully targeted publisher. Nothing happens! No anxious email demanding the whole manuscript, no one page contract offering world wide release in several languages - and name your own price, no movie rights, no invitation to visit the South Sea Islands for a grand book release, not even a whisper to say they might be interested - perhaps.

The net result in many of these situations is that the manuscript ends up in the rubbish bin or gets used to line the kitty litter tray. I suspect that a lot of these would be authors spend so much time ticking off the "How to do it properly" boxes that they loose track of the most important aspect - IS THEIR STORY ANY DAMN GOOD?

I've been fortunate and just recently signed a contract for a trilogy of books  in the Sci Fi genre. It's my first, second AND third books! How did I do it? Well for a start halfway through the second draft I threw all the "How To" books out the window along with my carefully constructed synopsis, character profiles, notes and time frames and just wrote. The characters just grew and developed of their own volition as the story progressed. I let the direction and events in the story have their own head as well. 

What was happening? I don't really know but in real life we don't know what is going to occur next, and if we try to predict events they usually turn out differently any way. Perhaps in fiction writing, if we rigidly prepare what is going to happen to a story, we must expect to get that wrong to! O.K. I could be a raving idiot but it worked for me and now I'm going to be published by a major house - 3 TIMES!

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