No magic formula

keyboardThere’s been a lot of searches hitting my blog lately on “How to write a good book.”

Out there in the internet there’s lots of advice.  Some of it good, some of it bad and a lot of mediocre hints and tips.

I”m still learning. I read the advice myself. And I really can’t tell you what is good or bad because it’s my opinion and yours might differ.

But I can tell you this:

BICFOK (but-in-chair-fingers-on-keyboard)

Your story isn’t going to write itself.  You have to sit down sometime and start writing it, even if the words are shitty and you really don’t want to write it.   When you finish. Start again. Write another story.  And another and another. With practice you’ll get the hang of it.

While you are at it, disconnect from the internet. Don’t look at FB or twitter.  Just make a goal (I don’t care how many words) and write.  It will be easier to connect to your story if you aren’t distracted. If you’ve got to do some research do it before or after. Remember you can always add to the story later.


It’s simple.  You want to write?  You got to read.

Read stories and books that are similar to your idea.  Read books that are vastly different. If you write fantasy, read some historical military books or mysteries.  Read short stories, read novels, read silly little poems on twitter.

By reading you will learn about structure.  There’s structure in sentences, in scenes, in stories. You should pay attention to what works, especially for you, and what doesn’t.

You’ll learn about character, how to write them, how the author makes them real on the page.  Go ahead and take notes (on paper if you don’t own the books please!)

Stories just don’t happen in a void (well I suppose the could in some instances), so you are going to have to develop a setting. What do other authors do? Why do they give you a lot of information in some stories but not much in others? Try to figure it out. 😉


As I said before, there’s all sorts of advice out there. And whether it’s good or bad, there’s always a tidbit of truth in each (even if it’s how NOT to do something.)  When a writer tells you something had failed–like they’ve finally trunked a story they’ve tried to place for three years–see if you can find out why.  Why they gave up on it. Had their writing voice changed?  Was there no market for naked mole rat adventures?

Do what’s right for you

This is one of the most important pieces of advice you will ever here.  There is no ONE TRUE WAY to write.  Yea I said it. What I do may or may not work for you. When I talk about pantsing (darn it Discovery) writing, you might cringe because you outline EVERYTHING!  When I talk about characters being the first thing I connect with, you might disagree. BICFOK might not work for you.  Instead you might have a voice program that records as you drive to and from work.

That is perfectly fine.  But just write.  Get the story on paper/screen. Read. Listen.

Because, there’s no magic formula in writing.



2 responses to “No magic formula

  1. I think BICFOK is really the necessary part. Because it is so fraking easy to get busy with all the other things that are easier than writing. Who knew plunging the toilet, or washing out the mystery vegetable slime from the veggie bin, or picking up the dog poop, or so many other things was easier to do than that one thing we all love so much: build stories? Oh yeah, everyone knows that. Because if it were easy, everyone really would be doing it. (Not *that*, writing completed stories, you silly goose.)

    Thanks for the reminder. Now to have a bit of BICFOK time myself.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s