Sunday, 5 April 2009

Cat Number One

Many people have approached me over the years and nearly all of them want to know the answer to one question - are you ever going to lose weight? Those that don't ask this question or fail to be discouraged by my surly disposition invariably go on to ask a second, much harder, question to whit - 'How can I became an almost successful author just like you?'

My first impulse is to grab the questioner by the neck and scream 'What makes you think I want you to become an almost successful author? What makes you think I want the competition? Why don't you just hand me a razor and have me cut my throat now....' And so on. Fortunately nine times out of ten I curb this impulse and avoid having to explain myself to local law enforcement. I then give them the advice that I am about to give now...

Go out and buy 'How Not To Write A Novel' by by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman. The best book about writing prose since 'The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (and how to avoid them)' by Jack M. Bickham (can we see a pattern here, I think so). The premise is very simple, ask any six successful authors on the best way to write a novel and not only will you receive at least seven contradictory answers but also at least one that involves peanut butter and nudity. However, ask those six authors how not to do it and you will get something close to a consensus.

Once you've bought the book read it twice and then sit down and write your novel carefully following all the advice contained inside. If you do that and send the manuscript out to enough publishers and literary agents, at least 25, and you still aren't published then you're just going to have to live with the fact that you can't write.

Some of you are even now reaching for your keyboard to ask me the best way to submit to agents and publishers - stop right there. Have you bought the book, have you read the book and have you written an entire novel following its advice? I didn't think so. No more questions, less talk more writing - get on with it.

2 comments:

jmswallow said...

Here's that "writing in Starbucks" blog entry I told you about...

http://ihnatko.com/index.php/2007/11/05/national-terrible-unfinished-novel-writing-month-day-5/

Jack said...

Is there a similar book for Tv Writing?