Thursday, October 6, 2011
So You Want to Write a Book?
Many times over the years I have been told this, sometimes very shyly, sometimes very confidently. These statements have usually been from someone I have met during speaking appointments, or someone who has just bought one of my books.
I would suggest that many other published authors have also heard similar comments and I have often wondered how they respond. Depending on the circumstances, of course my replies have varied considerably.
This is actually something I personally never remember thinking. In fact, even when I did a writer’s correspondence course many, many years ago, I was aiming to write articles and especially short stories never even daring to think about a whole book. Then came that never forgotten day a long time ago when my husband became tired of me complaining about a Christian novel I had thrown down in disgust.
“Well, write one better yourself!” Ray said grumpily before exiting the room.
The idea would not go away. Certainly there was a lot of time spent in praying and confirmation from the Scriptures. So my journey had begun, including discovering just how hard it is to “write one better.” With small children and church ministries, it took me many years to eventually finish that first manuscript and then many, many rewrites before it became my first Heartsong Presents book, “Search For Tomorrow” which I still call my "apprentice" novel.
But that was to be many, many years down my writing journey.
During several chats with folk who would like to write a book “one day” I’ve discovered too many have no idea how or where they should start. To begin with, many of them simply had no real idea of the actual structure of a novel. Certainly these days of the internet there is much information about how to write and has made a huge difference for anyone serious about writing a novel. In more recent years, some school systems now also teach fortunate young people a lot more about this as part of their English curriculum which my age group missed out on.
These days my first response to the above comment is to ask what kind of book the speaker enjoys reading the most, and whether non-fiction or fiction. The next is to suggest they either borrow from the library or invest in “How To” books for that particular kind of book and do some study. My next suggestion is to join writer’s groups, and if at all possible a local one with face to face regular meetings. I believe that while we can study many books about writing, putting what we study into practice is often difficult. What I call “writer chat” also helps stimulate me, keeps me plodding away during those difficult periods when “life” interrupts my writing aspirations or when those rejection letters arrive from publishers.
Needless to say, there are now many writer’s conferences and seminars that offer great learning opportunities. The ACFW one is of course the very best for Christian fiction writers but hopefully wherever you are there will be some opportunities whether large or small. On November 12th, I am privileged to be presenting a workshop at The Word Writer Fair in Queensland on “Preparing To Write That Novel.” I certainly wish that I had known much of what I will be sharing before I had ever attempted that first novel of mine way back in the mid 1980s! There were so many things I didn’t even know I should “know” and have to confess continue still to learn more with each manuscript.
Read more about Mary's writing journey, her husband Ray and his devotional books on their blog from the website: http://www.mary-hawkins.com/