The Trick of Finding Inspiration for That Novel

I have found over the years that inspiration can come at strange times and moments; and many times I do not realize it has occurred, as my brain stores a little seed aside, like a gardener in spring.

A lot of helpful “you can do it too” type writing books try to give you ideas on how to find inspiration. You will see examples of how to look around you, look at your experiences, or think about things you like and maybe consider combinations (Like in the classic Hollywood pitch style: “It’s ___ meets ___”). For me, I find none of that works.

“Thinking” for inspiration, rarely gives off enough of a spark to carry a project through to a satisfying fruition. Yes, you might finish a draft of something, sure, but it will never be as good, in my opinion, as an idea that overwhelms your consciousness or wakes you up in the middle of the night like a scream.

A good book needs a spark. Continue reading

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The Mistakes of the Newbie Novelist

Sometimes when I work with new novelists or self-published writers, I wonder (and this is awful to say) if they even really like books.

Why is it that people are drawn to wanting to be writers?  Is the image too glamorized in books, TV, and movies? Is it for the bragging right, so they can say “Yes, I have written a book? It is right there.” Is it because it seems simple to do since we all know how to form a sentence thanks to public education? Has self-publishing companies done too good a job ruining the myth that writing is a skilled craft? What is it that draws people to take on this art, resulting in a congested market and thousands of badly written books finding their way onto amazon each year with badly made covers on photoshop?

I wish I had an answer to all of my questions, because sometimes I want to give new novelists interventions. In other words, sit them down and ask at the beginning of the process, “Do you really want to do this? Really? Why?”

The thing I am the most surprised about when working with a first-time novelist is how many rookie mistakes get made. Yet, they still come up again, and again, and, over time, I have begun to sound like a broken record. Here are four obvious errors that drive me crazy with some helpful recommendations for the newbies out there: Continue reading