I’m not a best seller, I’m not repped by an agent. I’m just a person learning the art of writing for an audience. People love to give advice to aspiring authors. Advice-givers are everywhere, on every website, coming from established writers and those compiling what they’ve learned even before their first book is out. Here I am, doing the same thing with a twist.
Let me tell you the number one thing I’ve learned:
Find out WHY.
We have a lot of rules as writers. Show don’t tell.
Put plot structure point a into the first 25%.
Hook on the first page.
Character named in the first paragraph.
Don’t open with weather.
Learn your audience.
Picasso famously said,
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
And I’m here to tell you, every best-seller that sticks in the mind breaks the rules. Patrick Rothfuss’s interview on Sword and Laser outlines just how far he was outside the rules. George RR Martin broke the rules and set them on fire and then served them to us as in a 7-course meal that took two pages to describe. These are only two example. There are others.
Here are my personal rules:
- Learn the rules, but practice until you know why they exist.
- READ. Read like a slush pile first-linesman. Check out 15 books from the library every week and read them. Do this every week for three months, whether you have time or not. These books were published. Figure out what they did, how they write and incorporate what works for you.
- Search out and accept critique. Use the parts you can.
- Don’t reject criticism out of hand. Sleep on it for a while and integrate it.
It’s that easy and that engrossing.