My writing- going back to basics 2)

writers resourcesIn last week’s blog I admitted that my books aren’t selling.  So I’m going to go back to basics with my writing, to see how I could improve that before looking more closely at marketing etc.  The idea being that if I know I have a good product I can then go ahead and sell with confidence.  Also, you never know if I make some changes, improve, get it right, I might just attract the attention of an agent and publisher.  Anyway, I decided that I’d give a masterclass by a best-selling thriller writer a go.  What had I got to lose?  I also said I’d let you know how it goes.

Well, I’ve started.  Do I think it will make a difference, yes.  I haven’t done any formal writing training in the past.  I read Stephen Kings book, a few other works on writing and trawled numerous writing blogs (see my resources page) and then just got on with it.  So hearing in detail from a successful author how he goes about his business is interesting if nothing else.  At first I thought, is this going to be some sort of formula for writing a successful book? (we’ve all seen those).  Well, it is and it isn’t.  He doesn’t give you a line by line formula as such but he does tell you what he thinks goes into a successful book.  And yes, some of it may end up sounding a bit formulaic, but as he says himself he’s not writing War and Peace, he’s writing commercial thrillers.

Bottom line – it’s about the story (as I’m sure most of us have heard many times), you have to have a good story and then tell it in an exciting and engaging way.  You don’t have to be a great ‘writer’ but you do need to be a good story teller. After all, we’ve all heard about books that have sold millions where the actual writing is not that great.  So what have they done? They’ve told a story people want to read.  What he’s getting across is how to make a good story a story that grabs people and makes them want to read it.

So I have a new idea for a book, I mentioned it last week.  I have 35,000 words and then wrote myself into a dead end.  However, I still think there is a good story there worth pursuing.  It’s a bit of a departure from my science fiction.  It’s set in present day Northumberland (where I grew up) and starts with a missing girl and a policeman.  However, being me it can’t be that simple and yes there is a supernatural/magical element running through it.

IMG_2605_edited-1So now, following the advice given I am writing a detailed outline, start to finish (something I have threatened to do for years, but never completed).  That includes every scene (chapter) the ideas and thoughts characters etc. that go into it.  I have rearranged parts of the story, thrown out bits that I thought I liked (but don’t seem to work), added in new parts and characters where I think they are needed.  I’m getting excited about it again.  The temptation for me is now to rush into the writing.  However, I’m keeping to the advice given.  I will go over the plan a number of times.  I will flesh it out and see where I can add more interest, twists to the plot.  I will work on my characters some more and get to know them.  And then when I think I’ve got the story right I’ll start writing again.

I’m enjoying the process.  It seems to be providing me with new tools to help develop my stories in a way that is more likely to appeal to readers.  If I follow this advice I feel I will be more in control of my writing, more confident perhaps.  It is also encouraging that from what I’m hearing I am also doing somethings right.  Will it help me sell more books?  I don’t know, but it might give me a better chance of doing so.  And, as I said last time what have I got to lose other than that several hundred thousandth place on Amazon.  Will this work for everyone, again I don’t know.  I’ll keep you posted.

As always comments are welcome

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

5 thoughts on “My writing- going back to basics 2)”

  1. Great post. I just blogged about this topic recently. It’s never too late to learn through classes, webinars, etc. Good luck to you. May I suggest that you read ‘Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. It’s a great read about writing, philosophy, and life.

    1. Thanks for the comment and glad you like the blog. If nothing else it gives you another approach to your writing. I’ll look out for “Bird by Bird”.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Have I ever written an outline? No, I have always just jumped off the deep end and swam. Now that I have read your food for thought piece here, I think I may try an outline, who knows, it may help stay focused in the direction I intend to go. Thanks for the post 🙂

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