Becoming a writer – is competitive …
One of the hardest things to come to terms with when you’re intent on becoming a better writer is realising that you’re in competition with already published, already great writers.
In order for YOU to break into the publishing world the whole of the book has to be great, but the first three chapters exceptional. They have to be the very best you can produce. No flaws allowed. They are probably the most important part of your novel.
That said, as far as readers are concerned, the first few pages are the most important. They are their window into your fictional world. Unless readers like what they see within that short time frame, they’re liable to turn away. How often have you seen someone in a bookstore browse through the opening chapter, then toss the book to one side.
Progressing from wannerbe
- To progress from wannerbe to become a better writer and to get published, means studying the craft. You have to thoroughly understand the principles involved in creative writing. It’s no use sitting down, scribbling your heart out, and hoping for the best. Purchase a book or take a course on creative writing.
- To progress from wannerbe to become a better writer, also means understanding what genre you enjoy and why, and write in that genre. You should always write what you like best. You need a passion for what you’re writing or you’ll get nowhere.
- To progress from wannerbe, you need to inspect the market of your genre to see what sort of audience there is. When you understand the market, write with them in mind and you’ll have a ready-made readership.
The opening chapters
When embarking on the road to become a better writer, an ideal way of starting a novel is to reveal a character with a dilemma, undertaking a task of some consequence. The sooner it’s made clear what’s happening, the sooner the reader will be lured into the story. The opening needs to reveal the urgency of the problem confronting the character, and it needs to be unmistakable why they cannot find the underlying cause of this problem. Years ago, when I wanted to be a writer, tutors used to hammer six questions into writing students . They still apply today.
The first four questions need to be answered as soon as possible. The ‘why’ and ‘how’, will probably take the book to resolve. Write or print these words in large letters. Stick them in a prominent position over your desk. Look at them often.
Unfortunately it isn’t easy to answer all the questions in an elegant way in the opening pages and this is perhaps where the problem lies. However, if you really want to become a better writer, you simply have to set the scenes of the plot in a way that isn’t contrived. Most established authors rewrite their opening several times before they get it correct, be prepared to do the same.
Chop that beginning
Sometimes I think it’s best to simply write the beginning, and then delete those first few paragraphs or even first few pages. For some reason the result makes your book more immediate. The story hits the ground running.
Most wannabes tramping that long and dusty road to become a better writer feel they have to explain everything before the adventure starts. Okay – get on with it, write your chronicles – but delete them afterwards.
Have your screams died yet? Has your look of horror faded? ……. I know it seems drastic throwing beautiful words away, but try it and see how much better your story reads.
Forget those long explanations
Empathy is a word to bear in mind. Your readers must quickly identify with the main character(s) and understand what problems they face. They must feel as involved with the character, as they would a friend, or the story will die.
Whilst writing the rest of the book, beware of long explanations and imagery. When in those first throws of becoming a better writer, it might amuse you to display your skill with flowery descriptions. Don’t! Flowery descriptions won’t sit well with modern readers. The naïve days of baroque writing are long past.
Get to the core as quickly as you can. Dispense with fluff, and chuck out the purple; your book could be successful, and your dream to become a better writer might just come true.
End of – Become a better writer