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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Humble Advice

I apologize in advance this morning's post will be a bit self serving and much like propaganda for my own work.

Since I published my first book back in 2009 I have discovered a little known fact you won't find in any encyclopedia or census record book. More than half the population, at least the sampling I have come into contact with, have written a book. Yep, you heard me right. Also, out of these people, the majority swear they have a best seller on their hands. Of course, when you press further,  it comes to light most have yet to jot down the first word of their best seller.

Last book signing I had at Jamestown Coffee Co a young man approached after purchasing a copy of book two of the Morian Trilogy and told me he had a great idea for a story and asked me to give him some advice. At first I skeptically counted him in the populace of faux writers until he produced a tattered dog eared stack of smudgy papers from his satchel.

"It's a story," he said passionately while reverently placing the slightly yellowed stack on the table, "of a group of pre-teens that save the planet from alien invasion one summer's eve back in the early eighties."

Now, I'm not a best selling author and I would be the absolute first to deny being an expert, but I am always willing to relay my story of how I got my books published. Especially to one so dedicated to his inspired idea and as enthusiastic as the young man standing before me.

"What would you like to know?" I asked, but added humbly, "keep in mind, I was never an English major and grammatical and technical questions are off the table. If I did not have a good editor, which I had wish I had found him much earlier than I did, I would be completely screwed."

Luckily his query was something I felt confident with.

"In your first book of this trilogy (MORIAVARATU) I noticed you have a very dynamic writing style that is fast paced and dialogue driven. I found it so engaging I couldn't put the book down. How do you keep from having dull moments and maintain this throughout the whole novel?"

I found myself a bit embarrassed but was immediately proud I had had this impactful affect on a reader. From here on out I will paraphrase to make it less distracting for anyone who may find the following statements helpful in any way.

As I write I think of every page as a scene I am watching on a movie screen. In one interview on the radio I called it reverse engineering a movie, which, in hind sight, explains the writing technique I use superbly. A great exercise would be to take a scene from your favorite epic movie and convey it precisely in your own words. Then take that practice and apply it to your own story.

I also impressed upon the young upstart to goose the reader every page. Give your prospective audience something you think they would never expect. Give them something memorable to take with them in every chapter. In my work I try to make every chapter installment a cliff hanger of sorts, so the audience feels compelled to keep going.

Please keep in mind I have never penned a best seller, but, that being said, I hope this helps any aspiring authors out there. Also, if there are any professional writers who happen upon this thread, I would hope you would add anything that has helped you achieve your success.