Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Writing a Book is Easy, Right? #OurAuthorGang


Writing is easy. You just sit by your computer and write. Right?
by

A few months ago a friend came for a visit. I was in middle of writing a novelette and didn't want to lose my thoughts on a crucial dialog, so I told her to make herself comfortable and give me a few minutes to finish it.

"Sure, no problem, "she said. "I'll make coffee and I have a few calls to make, anyway. Take your time."

She sat on the couch and by the time I finished about two pages, she took care of a few calls.
"Let me see what you wrote," she came over to my desk and looked at my screen.

I opened the document and told her, "I only have about ten pages written but if you want to read it, here it is."

She sat down, read the pages and she said, "It sounds great! You know, I should write a book too. I have a gazillion ideas and writing can't be that hard. How does it feel when your book is finished and published?"

"Writing a book is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've ever done. When I hold the finished book... it's like..."

"That's it then! I'm going to write one and you will help me publish it."

Knowing her flighty nature, starting ten projects at the same time and never finish any, I said, "Well, anyone can write a book but I have to tell you that it takes serious determination, patience, and hard work to actually finish it."

"So how do you start writing a book?"

"Every writer develops their own way of writing a book. Some writers, like me, write a rough draft and go with the flow of thoughts and ideas and then rewrite, cut out parts or adds new parts, and then edit the story. Others take it slow and think about each and every word and sentence before they write it down, so their story is finished when they write 'The End'."

"What do I do first?"

"Well, pick a genre to start with. Don’t base this choice on what genres sell best, but write what you like to read. Write a story as if you're writing it for yourself."

"I want to write romance. I love romance stories. How do I start?" 

"First, create a biography for each of your characters."

"What do you mean biography? They're not real."

"If you want your readers to enjoy the story, you need to create characters that seem real."

"Oh, right! How do I do that?

"Let's say your main character is a woman. What does she look like? How old is she? What is her name? Where does she live? Is she rich, poor, or middle-class? Is her personality easy going, shy or self-assured? Questions like these will help you to deepen her character and make her seem real."
"Cool! I can do that."

"Then you need to think about the sub-characters and plot. Who are they, how do they meet and interact with each other, what do they want, what do they do, what or who stands in their way of reaching their goal, and how the story will end."

"Oh, it's like you have the story outline in your head and then you start writing."

"Yes, and as you write, you might change your characters and the plot and you might even discard the outlines you originally wrote as you experiment with characters and plots. This is when push yourself creatively and go with it as the ideas flow in your mind and eventually, this rough patchwork of thoughts, ideas, and plotlines will come together to make a story."

"I have an idea... it's like my favorite fantasy but, of course, the guy in my fantasy is constantly changing. I'm going to write the story about my favorite fantasy guy who meets a shy girl when vacationing at a ski resort. He might sprain his ankle and she keeps him company and then they will make passionate love by the crackling fire."

"Sounds great!"

She stayed a few hours and excitedly chattered on and on about her ideas, "No, they will meet on a cruise because she can show off her perfect curves in a bikini and he... No, wait! He would be a painter and she commissions him to paint her portrait. Better yet, she would be a doctor and saves his life..."

By the time she left, she came up with about ten different scenes and plot. "I'll call you and let you know how it's going," she said and started the two hours drive to get home before dark. 

She called a few times a day for about two weeks. She developed her characters nicely but every time she called, she had a different idea for the plot.

She will work it out, I thought. If she gets stuck, she will ask for help. Months went by and I finished and published the novelette I was working on. I sent it to her and she called, "I love it! Wow! What a great story and I love the ending most."


She didn't mention her book anymore when we talked and when I asked about it, she changed the subject. I didn't mention it for a long time but after a few conversations about everything else, I asked her how the story is going.

"She said, "I'm done. I'm finished!"

"Great!" I replied, thinking that she had finished the book. "Send it to me, let me read it, and then I'll help you to publish it."

"Right! Let me send you what I have. Check your email in a few minutes."

She hung up but what she said and how she said it didn't sound like a happy writer who just finished a book, so I was anxiously waiting for the bling of my email alert.

When the email arrived, instead of a manuscript, she sent me this picture as an attachment:


Then I got a text message from her: "Got it? That's ALL I HAVE!!! I wasted six @%&* months to write THAT!!!"

Oh, boy! I thought and I called her. "What happened? The beginning sounds great, why don't you continue writing?"

"Why?" she shouted. "Why? Because I wrote three pages and then I changed my mind about the plot and deleted it. Then I wrote five pages but I had another idea and deleted that one too. I've been doing that for six @%&* months nonstop. Write, delete. Write again, don't like it, delete again."

"I'm so sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can help with?"

"Yeah, just... write your stories and let me read them. And, never, ever mention it again that I should write a book. Okay? I saved this on my computer as a reminder to never, ever attempt to write a book, again. And don't you tell me that writing is easy, okay?"

"Well, I never said that writing is easy. All I said was that writing a book is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've ever done."


Erika M Szabo

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Art Reborn (Lyra Shanti) Probably because your setting, I can't reply to your comment :) I agree 100% that everyone has a story to tell, that's why I encouraged my friend to write. However, she realized that writing a book is not for her. Because of her flighty nature, starting ten projects at the same time and finishes only a few, she needs creative outlets that doesn't require careful planning, grueling writing for hours every day, and when the book is done, dealing with publishing and promotion.
 
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Erika M Szabo

1 year ago (edited)  -  Shared publicly
 
I just got a text from my friend and my first thought was, "Dear Lord, she's going to kill me!"
But when I opened her message, she surprised me :) Here is her text message:
"Rika, you know how lucky you are not mentioning my name, right? Well, I knew you wouldn't. I'm not going to comment on your post because then people would know I'm the idiot you wrote about, but your post is brilliant! Every author wannabe should read it before they decide to waste six months of their lives trying to do something they don't have the talent for. Unlike me, you were blessed with a great storytelling talent. Keep writing my friend <3"
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Erika M Szabo via Google+

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Writing a Book is Easy, Right? #OurAuthorGang
Writing is easy. You just sit by your computer and write. Right? by Erika M Szabo A few months ago a friend came for a visit. I was in middle of writing a novelette and didn't want to lose my thoughts on a crucial dialog, so I told her to make herself comfo...
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Mary Anne Yarde

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Another great post, Erika!
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Thank you Mary Anne :)

Mackenzie Flohr

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
What a wonderful post! It's one of the things I often say, people think it's easy to write a book, until they actually try. It's one thing to write a book, it's another to actually finish one.
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So true!

Eva Pasco

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Not only is "writing" a book not easy--at times it's painful to create the exact imagery you want with the right words.  I'm a firm believer in setting about to write the book  you'd like to read.
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I agree Eva! I like to read fantasy fiction, therefore I write fantasy for adults and children :)

Joe Bonadonna

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
This is a great, Erika! I'm sure most of us have similar stories. I sure do. I've dug ditches, remodeled homes, unloaded trucks and overseas cargo containers . . . and those jobs were much more easy than writing. Writing is the hardest work I've ever done. It never gets easier, no matter how much I learn and grown. Each story is a challenge, a real brain-drain, and sitting for hours is also very physically exhausting. But writing is the most rewarding job I've ever had.
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Hard and rewarding, indeed!
 
This is great!
Thank you.

Sharing on my twitfeed.
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Thank you!

Stephanie Ling

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Loved this so much, Erika. It's so true! The first book I wrote (which I never published) probably had more pages of backstory, history, and biographies than the actual book itself. That's where the hard work is for me, but the most satisfying. And that's where the depth comes from, I think. Knowing the people and places so well, inside and out, that when they take flesh on the page, they feel so real.
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A delicate balancing act to be sure. And that's only one aspect of our art. It takes so many well-developed dimensions to create a really, really good book. Our jobs are to write so well that it APPEARS to be easy. I love classical music, and I adore listening to the virtuoso violinists. Before my kids were born, I thought it might be fun to try my hand at playing, self-taught of course. I was under no illusion that I would really progress very far, but I was fascinated enough to dabble. That experience left me marveling even more at people who can play professionally yet who make it seem so easy. (I took a ballet class in college for the same reasons with the same results.) Pro atheletes, painters, any highly skilled person working their magic can lure the rest of us into thinking what they do is not so special... until we try it for ourselves and find out how wrong we are!
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+Stephanie Ling That is so true! I didn't look at it that way. My friend thought is was easy to write a story because I made her feel like it was easy. Great point Stephanie :)

Grace Au

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
This made me smile so much! I know friends like yours. We agonize over our characters, what they do, who they are, how they fit into our fictitious world...when all we need to do is listen to them tell us the stories to write. My characters go missing for months, but when they return, there are so many words to write.

You are a great storyteller, Erika, and a good friend to share your wisdom and advice.
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Thank you Grace :)

Ruth de Jauregui

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Oh LOL!! Priceless!

I don't outline, I start writing and since I write slowly, ideas for future scenes grow as I'm grinding along. And grind it is, but I may finish my first novel this year. (The other four I've started are waiting in the sidelines.)

In some ways, nonfiction is so much easier. Pull together your sources, outline the book and then write it.
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Usually I have the characters' "biography" and a vague outline of the story in my head when I start writing, and then I go with the flow of the story and write a rough draft. Then I start reading from the beginning and change, delete, add until I'm satisfied with everything :)

Rick Haynes

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Easy? How many times have I heard that? I've got so many ideas, and I'll come back to you. When? What do you think of my book, as it's hard writing a few thousand words? Didn't you start writing your big novel a year ago?
So true, Erika. Thanks for posting.
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GREG JOLLEY

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
"Challenging and rewarding," yes. Also providing delights and pleasure. Thank you for a fine description of the process, the rewarding, daily dance of art and craft, struggles and surprises.
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Glad you enjoyed it Greg!

Rich Feitelberg

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
I love this. So many people think writing a book is like writing an email. It's not. This really sort of post should be required for everyone who thinks that can writing creative fiction when they have no skill or training to do so.
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Indeed! Although skills could be learned, but if one doesn't have a certain level of storytelling talent, the book will either never be written or it will become a lifeless list of words and sentences.

Mackenzie Flohr shared this via Google+

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Art Reborn (Lyra Shanti)

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Wiring is definitely not easy, not to mention the editing, formatting, and marketing that follows. It's all a giant headache, and sometimes a mammoth undertaking, depending on the size and plot of the book. That said, I think everyone should try, if they have the urge and ideas.

This post actually makes me sad because I truly believe that everyone has the potential to be creative, and the hidden talent within. I think it should always be explored. Of course, it's up to each individual to decide of they can go the distance.
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Lol *writing!
See? Even editing on my phone is hard enough. ;)

Joe Bonadonna via Google+

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Today on A Small Gang of Authors, Erika M. Szabo tells a story almost every writer can relate to: having someone tell them that writing must be very easy to do. As Erika's friend learned, it's not. Believe me, I know it's not easy at all.
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