Friday, January 2, 2015

So You Want to Write a Book

Many people think they have a "book in them", but the difference between being an author and thinking a book is ready to be written is ACTION. It's not true that anyone can write a book just because they thought about it. I hear that all of the time, too, which demeans the art of writing. BUT with the right education, training and guidance, anyone can indeed write a book.

Fiction and nonfiction books have a framework of reader expectations. The key is to understand how that structure is set up, which is why education and training are helpful. Some people have a natural knack from reading and taking in other writers' works, but that in and of itself is another form of training. Readers do expect certain forms and techniques. They expect basics like a beginning, middle and end even if that structure is creatively redone. But notice that an exercise in experimentation that goes awry gets labeled "bad" and readers won't read it. So, it's important when writing to maintain some sort of construct of form and function around the work. You have to have a story. You have to have characters. Even if it's a true story or nonfiction, you still have to have a workable structure that is in a sense the story, and typically it surrounds a theme.

Stubborn writers who fall in love with their works and demand to do things that break the rules when they don't even know the rules are an editor's nightmare. I've had writers who from the start make unruly demands and come up with ideas that are so far out there, I can't even consider it. Art is one thing, but crazy is another. If you're going to stretch and try knew things in writing, my first piece of advice: always know the actual rules. Once you know what those rules consist of then go ahead. Break them. But always start with the basics -- grammar, syntax, usage, style and spelling. Understand the overall expectations of storytelling and character development ... THEN play with it.

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