Thursday, November 11, 2010

Writing today, has it changed?

What does it take these days to write a book? Well, it takes first and foremost, someone with the desire to write it. Maybe someone with the credentials to write it. Oftentimes, someone who has the story already in their heads and can’t not write it.

But sometimes just wanting to write a book isn’t enough. You have to have some general knowledge of the writing world. I mean, heck, if you just picked up the number one bestseller and said, why, I think I want to write a book like that, and you set out to do it, you MIGHT manage. But chances are you would be lost before the first twenty pages were penned.

So what does it take to write a book these days? And why can’t wannabe writers just wing it? Well, they can if they don’t want to be published. If they do seek publication, well, that’s a horse of a color altogether never seen.

It could be the industry. Never before has the publishing industry been so tight. So closed to the very public that keeps it in business! Then too, there are the miracles that make it through.

I don’t have the insider scoop, but maybe you have something you want to add? What do YOU think it takes to write a publishable book these days?


Hart Johnson said...

I think at the MOMENT the industry is looking for 'safe' (and by that I mean 'sure sellers'--so books similar to things that have sold before). There are exceptions, mostly in the YA market, where I've seen some fabulous, fresh chances work out well, but a look at the classics says there is a great variety that would not make publication today--all those dead Russians that immerse us in families before there is any sign of plot? Wouldn't happen. Falkner and his flowery descriptions and two page sentences? Not likely (though I can't argue I miss that, unlike the dead Russians). I just think in this economy and with the uncertainty of publishing HOUSES that books that fit neatly onto a particular shelf are a lot easier to sell. It's too bad, in that a writer with a really fabulous, fresh DIFFERENT take has to get past a lot more gatekeepers than in the past. Hopefully though, this will loosen up when the uncertainty sorts itself out.

Marta Stephens said...

My two cents: An unquenchable desire to write. Add to that ruthless editing—knowing when to let go of that “wonderful” line/phrase/scene for the sake of the story, a thorough knowledge of the industry, and a solid inch or two growth of thick skin.

I don’t believe in writing for a trend either. What’s popular today may not be in a year or two when the manuscript is finished. I say write what’s in your heart, because that’s when your voice and your writing will shine.

Thanks, Kim!

s.w. vaughn said...

Ah, Kim, you are ever thought-provoking. :-)

As far as I can tell, it takes a lot of pointless banging your head against a wall, cursing, getting rejected all over the place...

...and through all that, keep writing. Writing one novel and querying the shit out of it for ten years is NOT the way to do it. Read read read, and write write write. Type your fingers off.

And be willing to learn. Never believe your shit don't stink. :-)

Yeah, that's about all the advice I got. LOL