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So You Want To Be A Writer?

One great thing about the internet is that it’s a great place to look to for information, for advice and tips on how to do things. I’m a writer and I’d like to share my thoughts on that book we are all desperate to write. I’m no expert and I still only class myself as a beginner so feel free to ignore everything I say! I have my first book, Intergalactic Terrorist, published with Amazon to download. It’s not the first book I’ve written, but the first I’ve published. I’m currently writing a new book – at least I am when I can find the time! I also write screenplays that I develop through Berry Productions, my indie film company so a lot of what I’m about to say will work for writing for film/tv/theatre as well! I’ve had highs and lows. I’ve had confidence boosters and knock-backs. So if you’re thinking about writing a novel – here’s what I believe you must break through in order for it to be a success.

Is your story actually any good?

Books2They say everyone believes they have one good book in them that they are just dying to get out – one great story that needs to be told. This could be true. It may be true also that that one great story actually isn’t as great as you think it is. Now I’m not trying to tell anyone that their story they need to tell is going to be terrible. I am saying that people are very judgemental and in today’s society we only demand the best. A lot of people’s stories will fall short of being the best and end up judged by the masses.

I have story ideas all of the time. Nearly every day I come up with a new adventure that I want to create either in novel form or as a film. Most of these I choose never to pursue because I know, as much as I enjoy coming up with the ideas and creating the characters and settings, that the story is just not good enough to be unleashed on an audience and I know it never will be. Yes, I’m one of these judgemental people. I, like we all do, judge other people’s work all of the time but the person’s work I judge the most is my own. I feel I have the self critique to tell if an idea, with a little tweaking (not twerking – that’s whole different ballgame), could work, or if it would fall flat and should never be heard of again.

So step one in telling that brilliant story you have in you, is judging yourself. Is it is honestly a good enough story that anyone will want to read?

Do you know how to write a book?

Books1Excellent! You’ve made it past initial doubts. You have decided that your story is the best story ever told and that everyone needs and will want to read what you have to write. The next hurdle we face is actually writing the bloody thing. So everyone has at least one great book in them? But can everyone actually write a novel? Writing takes a lot of time and a lot of work. Yes, all you’re doing is sitting by your computer all day tapping on your keys – but that in itself is tiring. First, how do you have the time to write? I don’t. I work as a video producer, have family and friend commitments, and I’m also an independent filmmaker. I don’t have the time to write! But I find the time. I’ll develop super powers and fly around the earth backwards so fast that I turn back time if I have to in order to write. What I’m trying to say is that it’s time consuming.

When was the last time you wrote a story? Are you always writing ideas down or was it at school? Do you remember how to structure plot and character and how to build a storyline up to those ever important, edge of your seat moments? Did you ever know how to? It’s hard, especially if you’re not used to doing it. Luckily in this age of communication there are hundreds of websites and blogs for tips and advice. Pop it into Google and let someone help you with ways to do it. Of course, other people’s ideas won’t work for everyone. But you need to find a way of writing that suits you best, a way that creativity can flow whilst hitting all of those important grammatical and structural niches that those judgementalists will demand!

What do you do with it when it’s complete?

Books3Months have gone by. Years maybe. Your story was so great you couldn’t let it die. You’ve neglected your job, family and friends and you’ve written the damn thing and you’ve followed all the advice and it is a brilliant piece of art! Now what? Everyone’s different of course but the obvious thing to do would be to read it. Go back to the beginning and read the full thing (I know you were reading it as you went along but you need to read it as a whole entity). I guarantee there will be parts you want to change. Chapter 12 that you wrote at 3am that was your best bit of writing is probably a bit of mess because you were so tired you’re fingers hit the keys on autopilot.

So you’ve re-read and it rocks! Now close the computer and go and live your life. A week, maybe two later, reopen your book and read it again. That’s right, fully. With that little break to clear your head you will find a whole load more things you need to change. It could be anything from stilted dialogue to confusing sentences. And spelling mistakes. There will be many! Then after you’ve read it, get someone else to read it. Someone that is a reader and knows what makes a good story – but someone who can be totally honest with you and tell you, if it’s shit, that it’s shit. Then someone else needs to read it. Someone who is good at proof reading. Maybe someone who is good at proof reading that you know won’t like your tale of robots and alien sex slaves because all they read are period dramas. These people are good because they’re not judging the story – they already know it’s not for them. They’ll concentrate on the grammar and spellings.

When it’s been read and re-read and read again by yourself and multiple people (maybe even pay for a professional to read it – always helps!)  you want the world to read it right? Your options are traditional publishing – sending it to agents and publishers, expect rejection after rejection, wait years and years and hopefully someone will actually read it and think it can make them some money and hey presto – or self-publish it on a site such as Amazon – where you can publish your book for people to download within a couple of hours, but at the risk that your book, even after all the re-reading you did, is still shit and everyone that downloads it will tell you. I’m not going to tell you which you should do – that’s for you to decide. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

Taadaa! You’ve done it! Well done! Now, I know I sound quite pessimistic, and I’m not I promise, but it isn’t easy to write a book and a lot of people think it might be.  There are far too many self-published authors at the moment who’s books are simply not good enough. I’m not saying mine are any better, that’s for all your judgers out there! But if you’ve got the commitment to get that story written and get that book published then go for it. And most importantly, keep writing. Each book you write should be better than the last – you never know, you might have the next best seller in you!

Good luck and I look forward to reading your book!


Written by Joseph Monahan – writer/director at Berry Productions


Download Joe’s comedy sci-fi book, Intergalactic Terrorist.


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