Practical Advice For Beginning Fiction Writers – J. P. Lantern @jplantern
Practical Advice For Beginning Fiction Writers
I think columns like this are best when they’re broken up into easily digestible tidbits. So here’s three pieces of practical advice for beginning fiction writers.
1. Know The Kind of Writer You Are
I think there are basically two sorts of writers, in my experience. There’s the kind that wants to perfect each page as they move forward, knowing it’s as good as humanly possible before writing the next one. And then there’s the sort of writer that wants to slop everything down on the page and see what they have, and doing this all the way to the end of the story, before going back and adjusting it all to their ends.
I’m the latter kind. When I wrote UP THE TOWER, my latest sci-fi YA romp, I had to put everything I could think of down on the page before I knew what I was dealing with. The first draft was basically a mess, but it was an informative mess—it let me know a lot of exactly what I didn’t want to be doing, and in many cases, the opposite of what I wanted to be doing. It’s a logical progression: if you know the opposite of what you want, then you know what you want.
You should know the kind of writer you are so that you’re not trying to be something you’re not; also so that you don’t read writing advice and start to think you’re doing the wrong thing.
2. Produce, Produce, Produce
You become a good writer by writing a lot. There’s no way around this. Reading a lot helps too, but writing is the number one thing you’ve got to do. If you’re not producing new material every day, at least about a page, you’re not serious about this.
People have kids or jobs or spouses or whatever and sometimes make excuses; the bottom line is that there is stuff you’re doing every day that you don’t need to be doing even with all of those things. So if you want to write, you might as well spend that time writing.
I think writing every day is like investing in your abilities as a writer. And I also think that releasing regularly—or sending stuff out, as it were—is investing in your ability to move forward and prevent from stagnating. So, production also means producing new material, not just working and re-working the same old stuff again and again.
Trust me, I am all for crafting and re-crafting and scrapping and re-scrapping and editing and re-editing for years and years. I’ve done it. I think that there’s a lot to be learned about yourself and the way that you write by working on one story for a long, long time. But at the same time, I think you can learn just as much, if not more, by being happy just so long as the basic story gets told and then sending that out into the world. If it doesn’t do well, that’s fine. At least you didn’t spend years of your life on the thing.
3. If You Want To Make A Career Of This, Be A Mercenary
I don’t mean this in a cutthroat way—as in, ignoring your friends or forgetting your family or anything like that. All of that is no good. But what I do mean is to adopt a mercenary outlook on your own work. When we start off as writers, we want to believe that we are creating art. That’s true, we definitely are, but we are also creating a product. There might be a time when people care more about the art you create than the product you’re working on, but that’s a long ways off. Focus on your product—think about its market, think about why it sells to people, think about the other things other products like it are doing that you can steal and incorporate.
The author will be awarding a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour. While your waiting to win scroll down leave a comment, buy the book at Amazon and ask J.P. questions about his writing path.
Up the Tower
by J. P. Lantern
Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn’t be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go…UP THE TOWER.
Samson ignored the jeer, focusing carefully on opening the box. He was twelve years old and he did not want to screw this up; being twelve was important, and people took the things you did seriously so long as you did them well.
“Smellson, hey!” The Crowboy banged his crowbar on the dusty ruins of the factory line where they had set up the six crates from their haul that morning. “Don’t blow us up, okay? I don’t want to die with your stench clogging me up, yeah?”
Again, Samson ignored the other boy, trying to concentrate as he eased his longtool through the gap in the crate before him. He very well could blow himself up; he could blow them all up. Inside the GuaranTech crate he tinkered with was a copbot.
Copbots blew up all the time. If their main processors or power source were damaged, they blew up. If they were being captured, they blew up. If they ran out of ammo and couldn’t refill within about ten minutes, they blew up. When they blew up, they incinerated everything in about a hundred foot radius. The warehouse was not big enough for the Crowboys to keep their distance and still work in the role of protection as they had been hired. So they were in the blast zone as well as Samson.
The copbots, deactivated, were precious and valuable. Strangely, they were valuable precisely because they were so hard to deactivate. A copbot was made almost entirely out of self-healing nanotech, and with enough time, it could repair from almost any wound to its metal shell. So, to keep this sort of power out of the hands of the gangster conglomerate that ran Junktown, the Five Faces, and any other sort of competitor, the copbots had a very liberal self-destruct mechanism.
This is what Samson worked against.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed “rugged,” though he would also be fine with “roughhewn” because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.