On twitter I see offers all the time for, courses – how to write that block buster, that formula for success. I don’t believe them. I don’t mean that we can’t all learn, improve, sell better or whatever. It’s just that 1) I suspect that the only people making money out such things are those that are selling the dream 2) The bottom line is the writing has to be good, the story and the story telling engaging. Yes, there are rules, hints, advice that can help, but I don’t believe there is some magic formula.
As fiction writers most of us read lots of fiction (I hope), so we know what constitutes a good story and good story telling. We see examples of it almost every day. We also know what doesn’t – there have been a number of e-books where I’ve thought ‘I just can’t finish this.’ i.e. why should I waste my time reading something that falls below what I think of as a ‘good book’ when there are so many excellent books out there.
Recently, I finished writing the first draft of the final volume of a trilogy starting with the first book I wrote. In some ways it’s a relief to get to the end of a project that I began some seven years ago or so (I have written other books in between). However, it is also a bit sad in that I am waving goodbye to characters I’ve come to know over that time, at least for now.
On the plus side I have, of course, started on a new book, always exciting. This one has been brewing for some time, having written a couple of short stories about the main character (see my blogs on the value of writing short stories). I do this regardless of the fact that my writing has yet to break even i.e. when I include editorial input for the first two and proof reading for all of them, not to mention a new pc, although I would have needed that any way. So I’m not in it for the money, although it would be nice if it made a modest amount, enough to run the car or pay for a holiday etc. And of course if Sky Atlantic wanted to buy the rights to one of my books I wouldn’t turn them down (family joke, as in ‘it’ll be alright when Sky Atlantic… etc., etc.’)
Then in my brain there are other stories, queueing up, waiting to get out. Again often the result of a short story, where I have been trying out different ideas and themes. What’s more they don’t always wait in an orderly manner. The push and shove, clamouring for attention. So you see I have to write. I feel if I didn’t write they would fill up so much space in my head there’d be room for little else.
So I think that’s the bottom line – write because you want to write, because you love it even. Yes, I want people to read my stories and enjoy them. Those that have read them and commented have enjoyed them, a great feeling and the encouragement we all need. And yes, I would like them to make some money. Maybe it will take five , seven, or ten books before they do. So, if you don’t write first and foremost because you like writing, then why bother? If not, it must be a chore and given that most writers don’t make much money, what’s the point? So forget formulas, concentrate on the story that’s eating away at you, nagging to be told. Then become the best writer you can so you can do that story justice. Then, if you write because you love writing it will shine through in your work.
As always comments are welcome.