Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Three Thoughts about Writing a Book

Three Thoughts about Writing a Book
Brad R. Cook

Everyone has a story to tell. Those of us that write them down earn the moniker – Writer. Those that persevere through the publishing process become known as Authors. Here’s the secret, anyone can write a story. As a people, we have told stories since the dawn of time. People go into work on Monday mornings and tell stories of their weekends. We tell children stories to get them to go to sleep. The trick, and why some authors get paid the big bucks, is to make it a good story.

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Octavia Butler said, “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

They said it best, but here are my three thoughts on writing a book…

1 – Be a storyteller
Writers are wordsmiths, gods of our own universes, grammar Nazis, and more, but beyond all of these we are storytellers. Learn the three act structure, the bell curve of story arcs, and writing in an active voice. These are important but what matters most is that a writer be an excellent storyteller. Everything else is fixable in edits.

2 – Write Regularly
Octavia Butler and Stephen King both emphasized this, why, because it is paramount to being an author. The only difference between wanting to be a writer and being a writer is putting words on the page. I try to write every day, when I have a deadline I will write several times a day. However, if you can only write once a week that is fine. Maybe a couple of hours every weekend is all you can manage. I promise if you stick with the writing eventually you’ll write The End, and there is no greater feeling than hitting that last period.

Guard this time like a dire wolf… everyone and everything will try and chip away at that time. The trick is to make it routine, then your muse, your body, and your mind will be ready to write when the time comes.

3 – Read
Read books in your genre, books by your favorite authors, even books on how to write. Read a variety of things, in different styles, different genres, and be certain to read for fun. Seeing how sentences are structured will improve your writing. Seeing what others are doing will let you know what are the tropes of your genre, the clichés, and what you can do that will stand out from the others.

I am a fan of authors rules, I read everyone I can get my hands on. I like to see what other writers think is important, but I also read books on writing. Like Stephen King’s On Writing, the Emotional Thesaurus, and Punctuation for Writers. But there are so many more. Remember, reading is fundamental…

So write. Revise. Write some more. Then Submit.

I leave you with this,
Brad R. Cook’s advice on writing – “The magic is in the rewriting.”

Do you have any advice for writers, a favorite book, or quote? Let us know in the comments.

Brad R. Cook, author of the YA steampunk series, The Iron Chronicles. Iron Horsemen - and Iron Zulu -  A member of SCBWI, he currently serves as Historian of St. Louis Writers Guild after three and half years as its President. Learn more at, on Twitter @bradrcook, or on his blog Thoughts from Midnight on tumblr

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