Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Blog by Russell Brooks - Part One

I want to write too. Please tell me where to start.
By Russell Brooks

Thanks, Marie, for inviting me as a guest on your blog.

Many people have asked me the same question: “How do I complete my first novel?” There isn’t a single answer to this question because what may work for one author may not work for another. However, I’m sure that most authors will agree with me that the road to being published is a step-by-step process. Being a successful author doesn’t happen overnight. It takes passion, patience, and perseverance. Below I’ve listed a few tips that have helped me. Please bear in mind that these are simply suggestions.

Write about what you like.

This may go without saying, but I’ve read threads in online forums or on social network websites where a lot of people believe that they should only write a novel containing subject matter that they are experts on. Although being a lawyer may help you write a legal thriller, or being a surgeon may help you write a medical thriller, being an expert on a particular subject will definitely help a writer with being accurate on the subject matter of a novel. But it doesn’t guarantee that you will write a good story. This is why researching a subject matter is important. And the easiest way to research subject matter that we’re unfamiliar with is to contact the experts directly. Many experts are either accessible in the phone directory. Others often write articles in magazines or online publications and will either leave their contact information at the end of their article or will mention the name of their workplace where one can contact them. Once you contact them, simply tell them who you are and why you contacted them and ask for their help. Although this goes without saying, it’s also important to thank them, include them in your acknowledgment section of your novel, and inform them on when your novel will be released and where they can find a copy if they’re interested in purchasing it. Or what’s even better, offer them a free copy as a way of thanking them. The good news is that there are so many experts out there that even if one turns you down, there’s going to be one that will be kind enough to help.

To Outline or not to Outline

These are two techniques I know that authors use when they’re about to write a novel. Some authors feel the importance to outline their novel first in order to organize each scene before writing. Others will write their novel straight from their head. For those that are curious, I prefer to outline my novels before I write them due to the complexities of the subject matter. One method is not superior over the other. You’re better off doing whichever one suits you the most.

Your first draft will not be your final.

We all love our work. But it’s important to realize that we’re not selling our novel to ourselves. How we may see our plot, our characters, and our writing, may be different from the way readers will see them. When I wrote the first draft of my first novel, I thought that it was the greatest thing on earth. But agents, publishers, even my father, didn’t care much for it. I was devastated. But I’m glad that I didn’t give up because I’m happy today—22 years later—that I rewrote my novel, considering how much more that I’ve learned about writing (and biology). I’d be embarrassed if copies of the original draft somehow were leaked. My draft from 3 years ago got a bit more of a favorable response from professionals in the publishing industry. It wasn’t good enough yet, but I knew that I was onto something.


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