Before you build a house you have to have plans or a schematic of the design. This serves as a template to insure you don’t end up with a toilet in the middle of your living room, or a kitchen sink in the hall closet. The contractor will need a multitude of drawings: one for the plumbing, the electrical, the trusses and many other parts of the house. He must know how to read these prints and follow them before he can construct a well-built house.
The same is true for you–a writer constructing a novel.
What if I told you I knew the secret to what a writer must do to become a published author? Would you listen? Would you promise to do these two things? That’s right–just TWO important things that can make the difference between getting published and not.
I’m hoping you said, yes. Because here they are:
The first one is: READ.
You might be thinking, how is that going to help me get published, but hear me out. The best way to build a book is to read one. Read the genre you want to write. You wouldn’t study blue prints for a hospital if you wanted to build a small home, would you? When you read, it’s like your brain has muscle memory. Even though you’re immersed in the story, as you’re reading you’re learning, your brain is retaining important facts even though you’re not consciously trying. It’s like you’re studying the floor plan of a novel in that genre. You’re retaining information about plot sequences, goals, character analyses, pacing, sentence structure, and more. The more you read the better your writing will become. I promise.
Don’t just read the words though. Analyze them, too. Ask yourself why you did or didn’t like the book. Are you hooked from the beginning? Why? What is it that the author’s done to make you care about the protagonist? Study the acts. Where’s the inciting incident and the climax? What happens during them? Did you like the ending? Why did it work or not work? What would you have done different?
The second thing you must do is: WRITE. Duh! I know. You probably already know this, but how much are you writing? Do you have an accountability partner? Find one. Ask him or her if you can email them on Friday to swap what you’ve done that week. How serious are you? Do you have goals? Say YES to all of these. Keep track of your weekly words. Can you fit in 500 words five times a week? That’ll give you 2500 a week and 10,000 a month.
Who’s reading what you write? Find someone besides a good friend or family member. Look for other writers who are writing in your genre, who can tell you what you’re doing well, and what needs improving. And, ABOVE ALL ELSE, be open to improving. Don’t get defensive when someone shows you what you can do better. If your goal is to be a published author then SUCK IT UP and take the criticism, and tell yourself you’ll be a better writer if you do.
What are your weekly writing goals?