Everyone has one good story to tell. Some of us have more than one. The tricky bit is not finding the story to tell, but getting the story out of the noggin’ and onto the page – or in today’s technological age, into the computer.
Here are FIVE tips I write by every time I start a new book:
Tip One: Write What You Love To Read/Read What You Love To Write
It’s no good writing romance if you love reading horror. Don’t try and write a crime thriller if you rarely read anything but family dramas. I know this sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many readers think they’ll write a “bodice ripper” to make some money cause “anyone can write one of those” even though they haven’t read one since the 70s. If you don’t love the genre you are writing in, no matter how good you are at structuring a sentence or devising a plot, it will show. If you’re not emotionally involved in what you are writing, how can you expect your hoped-for readers to be?
Tip Two: Write EVERY DAY. And I mean, EVERY DAY.
Even if you delete every word you’ve written, it doesn’t matter. The story won’t leave your head by itself. Set yourself a daily word count goal (mine is 2000) and try and write that many each day. It can be a daily word count of one hundred words (and sometimes, that’s all I achieve if I’m lucky) but the very magic of forming words and sentences contributes to the addictive magic of writing your story. Accept some days forming those words and sentences will be like pulling teeth and other days will be like drowning in a flood. And again, don’t stress if you delete them all. No word written is ever wasted, even the ones you trash.
Tip Three: Buy A “How To” Book. No, Buy Two…No, Three!
Seriously, there are some brilliant “How To” books on writing. Buy/beg/borrow as many as you can and devour them. If you can, highlight bits that you feel are important and read them again. Some of the best “How To” books for romance are Alison Kent’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance and Vanessa Grant’s Writing Romance (I still read both once a year. My very good friend, Dawn Montgomery said to me once, “Never stop learning, Lexxie. Never stop learning.” And she’s so very right.)
Tip Four: Watch People
You’re not being a voyeur; you’re being a writer. Writers are observers of people. Our characters come from those around us (yes, even the soul-sucking demon who wants nothing more than to tear your hero apart). The tiniest glimpse of a couple smiling at each other can set off a story in your head before you even know its there. Oh, and carry a notebook with you at all times. You’ll be surprised how many times you’ll need it.
Tip Five: Join A Writers Group
Surround yourself with people who love writing as much as you do (preferably in the same genre if possible). Listen to them, share with them, support them, encourage them and reap the benefits. My first writers group introduced me to not only friends I now have for life, but opened up a wealth of information I didn’t know was out there, as well as gave me the chance to have someone apart from my husband read my work. If it wasn’t for that writers group, I never would have written and submitted my first novella to my very first publisher.
Tip Six: (Oops, wasn’t there only meant to be five?) Rejection Will Hurt
But it will never kill you. Don’t let a rejection letter from a publisher/editor or agent stop you. Put your manuscript aside, let it sleep for a while and then see if it deserves another go. And while it’s sleeping, start your next book.
One last quick word – accept you will be scoffed at, laughed at more than once. Writing is a wonderful wonderful career, but it’s not an easy one. But when you are laughed at don’t give up. Smile, nod, and get even later…some of my favourite villains are people who scoffed at my dream. And you know villains always get their comeuppance, right?