Becoming a self taught writer.


I’ve been writing seriously for one year and 9 months to be precise.  It started with writing Queen of Penny Pinching towards the end of a summer and never stopped.  I have written something like 15 books since then.

What I have learned on my own in the almost two years is amazing and I keep learning and being reinspired all the time.  I have learned how to self-publish, create book covers, market and promote, even edit and proofread (not suggested at all) my books and all completely for free.  I had to at one point because I was cranking out the books and we had no budget for that.  I found a side of myself that was very industrious and clever.  I also started blogging a year ago and found that I love it although it hasn’t really promoted my books as I had dreamt of. What the blogging does is provide me with an almost daily writing exercise and a fun and quick outlet.  Not to mention connections to bloggers and readers around the world.  Talk about your small world opening up.

I also started blogging a year ago and found that I love it although it hasn’t really promoted my books as I had dreamt of. What the blogging does is provide me with an almost daily writing exercise and a fun and quick outlet.  Not to mention connections to bloggers and readers around the world.  Talk about your small world opening up.

So, now I’ve taken my work and turned it into a career.  I’m still new and not fabulously popular or lucrative, however, a year ago a would sell a book every couple weeks and now I sell 10 to 18 a day on the average.  I’m pleased with this growth.  It may be slow but who won the race?  That’s right, the tortoise.  My blog used to get an average of 0 to 3 persons and now I easily have around 25 visitors or more a day.  But what I really love is that each person who visits my site stays and reads several of my articles.  What that means to me is that I have something to offer people.  I know that pleasure of finding a good blog that offers so many ideas and inspiration.  I love it when I can give that to another.

I’m on to another writing career move.  Fiction.  I’ve produced 4 fictional books and created a pen name.  I’ve had to rework some of my books, actually completely deleted one, started several others that are still waiting on me, wrote one that I will never publish unless I get the energy to rewrite, and I have a notebook full of ideas and themes.  One of my books is getting some positive feedback, one horrible review, and then the other books seem to have become invisible in the millions of books on amazon.

I am having more fun with the getting there.  It’s the journey that makes the story right?  I have never written fiction before the few books I have out there.   I have taken one English course in college that I never completed and, honestly, the last romantic fiction I devoured was the Twilight series.  But I have a curriculum all planned out!

I found these wonderful books on screenplay writing:

I don’t plan on writing a screenplay, however, when I write fiction I find that I play a movie in my head complete with themed music while I write.  I love these books so far because they really break down the whole story idea.  I’m learning how to really build a character, intensify the drama, structure the whole story to grip the reader and keep them absorbed.

You know what else helps?  Analyzing movies.  You can learn so much from watching movies if you have learned the art of dissecting them.  You want to get into the psychology of the characters, what drives them, what makes them who they are, the way they are, and what makes them tick…or fail to tick?  Then you want to see how other characters around them support the hero and help the story move along or make it richer, more funny, more intense.

Guess what else helps?  Music.  Isn’t music what can really help a movie go from a 3 star to a 5 star?  I think so.  Obviously, you can’t add music to your novel…not yet.  But I love to listen to it as I work and I try to listen to theme related tunes as I write a scene.  When I wrote A Farmer’s Widow there was a lot of Rascal Flats and Lady Antebellum.  City scenes get a different beat.  I see the moment and hear the music and write as fast as my little paws can go.  I even put ideas for what music to listen to while reading that book in the beginning.  Perhaps that was odd.  But why not?  Why not put songs that go well with the chapter at the top of each chapter?  That would set the mood.

I have read books on writing and the only one I like was Steven Kings ‘On Writing’.  Great ideas in there.  I read mostly just the middle of the book.

There are a few ways to write.  One is to find an idea and then just sit down and write as fast and much as you can to let it come out and together and before the insecurities start nagging you.  This was inspired by Steven King partly.  He calls it “finding the fossil and then digging”.  I tried this and it works for a chapter, however, I find that I need to have an outline to work from.

So, the other way is to get an idea, write a pitch for the story, preferably a paragraph, choose names for the main characters, and then break down all the chapters and what will occur in each one all the way to the end.  This works great but you must be very flexible because whole chapters can morph into a very different direction than what you had originally intended to happen.  Sometimes there wind up being more chapters, less chapters, even character names may change and their purpose as you get to know them.  I have started out with a villain becoming the heroine or a weak character becoming the main focus.

When you get an idea you think up characters to play it all out.  You come up with the rise and fall of the drama, the obstacles and ways to have those obstacles make the stars shine.  However, as you get deep into the story it will actually take you on the journey and start telling itself.  The characters will begin to reveal themselves and you have to just go with it.

That is why writing fast and furious is the way to go. No time to stop that flow, that unexpected twist, the really getting to know your star.  And no time for doubt and fear.  Outta’ the way!  We’re too busy!  Can’t stop!  Leave the sandwich by the door!  You call out.  Well, I don’t say that because I’m the one making the sandwiches and I definitely can’t have a door shut with two little ones.  No, I get up at 4:00 am and write like crazy until a little person wakes up and finds that I’ve left the family bed and searches me out to demand that I get back into bed to cuddle!

As I get more and more into these books I will share the info.  It’s some good stuff on building the stories and people.  I’ve already gotten some great ideas for the “buddies” and what their purpose could be for propelling the story forward.  Every star has a sidekick that is instrumental for keeping the momentum and helping us understand our hero.

I good movie to leave you with, It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.  It’s a classic and a great idea for how a romantic comedy might be structured.  We have left the innocent and playful romantic comedy behind but maybe it’s time to lighten up again with all the political drama going on right now.  Why, the whole drama with Trump and our government is what a Monty Python is made of right there!


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