So, you’ve read a book? Congratulations. You’ve read a book from start to finish and actually enjoyed it? Wow. Everybody does that.
So, you’ve read Harry Potter, discovered you government mandated Hogwarts house, and in your audacity, you thought to yourself, “I could write a book”? Have you? You think that just because you have an imagination and two fingers you deserve of slice of Ms. Rowling’s big magic pie?
Well, maybe you do. Maybe you don’t.
Here are a few tips to help you on your doomed journey.
- Write what you know
Unless you have spent a few years in the blood filled trenches of Normandy, do not write about World War 2. Unless you’ve got your BS in Defense Against the Dark Arts, don’t write about wizards. Everybody wants to write about elves and dragons, but nobody wants to go to the trouble of buying a passport and booking a flight to Middle Earth. Don’t do it. Don’t be that guy. Readers will know you don’t know what you are talking about.
2. Murder your children
I think it was the legend Stephen King who said, “Books are like children, and I like to burn one of them alive every morning before breakfast.” Your first draft is bad. You will have to totally destroy it several times before it even stands a .02% chance of being good.
I for one am glad my first several novels never got any traction. I hate them and despise the man I was when I wrote them. Soon, you too will learn to despise all past versions of yourself.
3. Don’t have fun
It is a known fact of the trade that if you have a story you want to write, you shouldn’t do it. Does it fit into an existing genre? Publishers prefer when writing is recognizable and fits into a pattern they can see from space. If a publisher doesn’t know what the ending will be after reading the first sentence, he will get bored, because publishers are creature with notoriously short attention spans. Their time matters more than yours, and expecting them to look for subtlety and nuance in a blue collar field like literature is goofy. You are a goof.
Instead of writing your post-modern space-opera retelling of The Merchant of Venice, you should offer something easier to understand. “I wrote a story like Saving Private Ryan, but I changed Ryan’s name to Dennis” that sort of thing. Publishers will hoot and holler and throw bananas at each other over an all-star pitch like that. You have won the game, and are on your way to being the next John Grisham.
So, I think I’ve given you some things to think about. Good luck writing. May God guide you in your journey. Don’t expect too much from yourself.