Although some people might disagree, I am in the camp that says that becoming a good fiction writer stems from being a consistent reader. Read constantly and critically. Read for the joy of a good story and the lessons of an excellent writer. Somehow, in the process of reading, we absorb the conventions of writing and become experts in the field of what we like in a story and what we don’t like. In observing other writers, we learn what we like and what we don’t’ like. My favourite authors include Stephen Leacock, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Those wonderful writers brought plenty of keen observation and painful irony to their work and the humour of their words, where it existed, has survived the relentless pounding of the years. For me, their work is timeless.
No matter which writers you favour, reading fiction helps expand the boundaries of your imagination. Writing is a creative process and there are those who believe that the output is closely related to the input. Read a lot and you will also find that the process of writing becomes easier. Reading a lot of crime fiction can help you understand what makes a crime thriller good. What elements need to be included and what absolutely must be absent? Trust your own judgement. And learn as much as you can about the process of writing in your genre.
I began my professional writing career more than three decades ago and I’m still learning. The field is limitless and the opportunity to evolve is endless. But practice is crucial. It allows us to experiment with fitting words together and it allows us to do it find ways to improve.
Ask any professional athlete or musician. Did they become virtuosos simply by knowing the theory of what they wanted to do? I think that 10,000 hours of practice gives us a big leg up.
My writing clients are all busy people. They have careers and families, charitable interests and big commitments. Most have had to make a decision to write their book No. Matter. What. It’s challenging and it requires driving a massive stake in the ground and promising yourself you are going to make it happen. The amount of self-doubt that can accompany the decision to write a novel is immense. So the decision to write anyway, is an act of courage. If you are contemplating writing a novel, may I invite you to take a big breath and do it anyway – no matter what your mother, your partner, your friends or your inner demons have to say on the issue. You can do it if you decide you can.
If you would like to order a copy of either my novel, “Shades of Teale” or my book of creative non-fiction stories, “Passages to Epiphany,” you can either get in touch with me directly at email@example.com or find them on Amazon!