1. xanadareous
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    xanadareous New Member

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    Do you have any advice on becoming a writer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by xanadareous, Apr 12, 2008.

    Hi all. I am new to the forum and I wondered if I could get some of your opinions.

    I am not a writer but I have always wanted to be one. I bet so many people say that! I have had a few ideas over the years but I really, really want to write about a great story I have. Its Science Fiction. Although educated in sciences/maths etc, I am not educated in English/writing etc.

    So I just wanted to know if to become a successful writer you really do need to go on courses or something. I am sure there are many people who have been successful without it, I just want to be sure its possible before embarking on something that could take ages and end up being no good just because I dont have what it takes or didn't go on courses or something. Does anyone know of great online resources to help people become a writer, or it something some people have and others dont? I dont want to be a writer that is clearly an educated writer with long words no one understands and things like that, but just be able to write imaginative fiction.

    Perhaps I should start out with a couple of short stories, sideline stories from my main idea, to see if I can manage something interesting. I've just never been a fan of short stories and avoid reading them. They seem less substantial than a good novel.

    I would appreciate your opinions!

    Thanks
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My opinion is that you do need education, and a lot of practice and determination.

    However, education isn't school, or courses, or How-To books. These things all can help, but education is never something done to you. It's your own search for knowledge and your own drive to continually improve that becomes an education.

    For me, returning to school was a speed bump in education. I learned a lot in school, but I found it was getting in the way of the studying I was normally doing on my own.

    So, why not introduce yourself in the New Member Introductions, and learn with the rest of us? And don't despise the short story - writing concisely is a vital skill. Getting to the point is too often overlooked.
     
  3. Mr Sci Fi
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    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

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    If you want to be a writer: Write.
     
  4. egnorth
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    egnorth New Member

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    Well put. The journey starts here, xanadareous. You will learn as you go.
     
  5. flashgordon
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    flashgordon Contributing Member

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    Yes, write everyday. Establish a time that you write and stick with it. And read a lot as well.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The path to being a successful writer differs from individual to individual. I think there are several common threads however:

    A command of the English language (or the language you intend to write in)...and the ability to write grammatically correct sentences, and the ability to coherently string them into paragraphs, strands of dialogue, scenes, chapters all the way up to novel length. How this can be accomplished? Maybe a writer already has these skills from previous schooling and natrual aptitude/ability. Maybe coursework. Maybe just sitting down with some self-study and practice.


    The ability to take ideas, images, action, dialogue, emotion, etc. and transfer it from thoughts onto paper (or screen). Some have a knack for this right off. Others struggle. Creative writing courses, reading/observing/studying quality fiction and working to mimic it until one becomes more effective and then branching out with one's own voice.


    The ability to tell a compelling story. In addition to oncorporating the two paragphs above, it includes pace, characterization, voice, vision, word choice, etc. This is something that is harder to teach or 'learn' and sometimes determines who 'makes' it as a writer, and who struggles.

    Finally one needs to have self-confidence, a thick skin, and persistence. Writing and getting published is pretty rough and tumble. It's a business, it's competative, it has many ups but also more than a few downs. Rejections, poor reviews, time spent and sacrifice with no promise a payoff at the end. And even when some success is reached, there is no guarentee that it will continue.

    Can everyone who sets out to be a successful writer make it? Absolutely not. While the definition of successful can be debated and differ from indivudal to indivdual, many writers never follow through on what is needed to be successful. They never finish a project, never learn/hone the skills. They give up--it's harder than first expected or they get discouraged. Life gets in the way. The list goes on. And even if a writer pours their heart and soul and does everything write...they, in the end, may not have the talent to break out to great success...or possibly even moderate success (again definitions vary). Most folks for example, through practice and study, become competent bowlers, but becoming a pro? Not going to happen for everyone. I know not a prefect analogy, but gets the point across.

    Then there is the luck factor. A little luck never hurts, but luck won't work as a substitute for the other factors above. It comes more in the area of a writer's manuscript falling upon an editor's desk and just happens to catch the eye at the right time...the short story is the right length and rounds out the anthology content wise, etc. The chance meeting with an agent or editor at a writer's conference. Networking, and another writer/peer points one in the right direction, says a good work/opens a door. Who knows. But if the story/novel quality isn't there...no luck in the world will work.

    Just one opinion to add to the mix.

    Terry
     
  7. Michael Davis
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    Michael Davis Member

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    I was very niave when I started 2.5 years ago. It turned out much harder then I expected, but I did learn a few things of what works and doesn't along the way. Took two years for my first novel to be published (TAINTED HERO), and I'm still learning. Best thing you can do is take from those that have made the journey ahead of you. There are a ton of forums and blogs that share lessons learned. This is one, but there's a ton more (search on "Writers forum"). Also, I post on a writers blog with 15 other authors (TheWritersVineyard) and about half my posts discuss the things I learned over the last 30 months, as do some of the other authors post. I started a series of 24 posts here that introduces lessons learned. Think I've posted up to #3 on the list. Hope it helps, but spent time, lots of time, reading what other authors are willing to share. It will save you a ton of heart ache in the end.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's pretty much all good advice above... i'd only add that most of the most successful writers of all time never took a single writing course, so it's certainly not a requisite for becoming a good writer... i used to be paid up to $150/hr to write all kinds of stuff for private clients and i'd never taken one other than a quickie course in screenwriting for tv, which is a very specialized medium... i'd never even gone to college, though folks who paid me highly to write for them had degrees up to ph.d's!...

    what made me a good enough writer to be paid for my work was being blessed with a love of words, a natural talent, and READING... i read all i could get my hands on from the moment i was old enough to pick up a book...

    your biggest drawback is english not being your native tongue, if you want to write for the us or uk market... so, you'll have to perfect your use of english, first and foremost... and writing short pieces will be the best way to do that, so it seems you're already on the right track...

    now, i do all for free, and i work with many aspiring writers whose english needs work, so if you want any help along the way, feel free to drop me an email any time...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  9. Darkthought
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    Darkthought Active Member

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    Writing isn't a thing that you can fast track your way through and its not something that just anyone can go out and do. Sure, everyone can learn diction, syntax, ect., but that doesn't make you a writer. What it has boiled down to, for me, is this: Everyone has a story in them somewhere, and if you have then ability to listen that story inside yourself and put it down on a piece of paper in a way that gives your reader the same experience you had writing it, then you are a writer. If you can't tell someone a story, you can't write. Its as simple as that. I guess just put something down on paper and see where it takes it takes you. Edward Gibbon said this, "Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book." It is possible. It just takes time.
     
  10. mikespread1988
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    mikespread1988 Member

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    I don't believe you need an education to write. It helps but you don't really need it. I studied English Language at A-Level and came out with a half decent grade which probably wouldn't be used by any professional writer anyway. Nevertheless though, many people have said my writing is witty and funny enough for it to be entertaining and they enjoy reading it. As long as it flows and you write about subjects that really interest you, you should have no problems. I don't believe you need to know all of the theory.

    I started off by writing little extracts of random things that popped into my head. You're right that these short stories aren't as substantial than novels but in many ways they can be more interesting towards the reader and will develop your skills as a writer.
     
  11. nburwell
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    nburwell Senior Member

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    You do not need a formal education to write well. I barely graduated high school and now I am going to publish my first novel. It is all in how you approach things. I have never been good at school; I have always preferred hands on learning and discovering education myself. If you want to be a writer, you must do two things, if nothing else: read a lot and write a lot.

    For a long while I didn't read very often and was ignorant to its magnificence. Then I made the startling discovery that I enjoyed works that challenged me and, though rare to find, made me think. The classics like Fahrenheit 451, Moby Dick, Brave New World and Of Mice and Men (along with Jane Austen, Charles Dickens... the list goes on) are timeless and will always be standards of excellence.

    Writing always comes from within, never from without. Books and education can help with form and grammar, but the pure essence and breath of your writing will come from within you. You have it already. You just need to bring it out of you. The only way to do that is to write. Write about anything and everything that you can think about and that inspires you, even if it doesn't have to do with your story idea. Be sure to put your story idea and the specifics down on paper or on your computer right now. Though the mind can be (but usually isn't) an excellent memory safe, it is not fool proof. Write your ideas down or you risk losing them. As the creator of them, we often feel invulnerable to that, but it does happen and then we are lost. While you write down your ideas for the story, you may even find yourself writing more.

    Cogito is right. Do not reject the short story. I had the same views on them as you did until I started writing them. To be able to contain an entire story in such a short space is almost more of a challenge than writing it in a novel. The challenge is to put just as much character, story, and plot development into your short story and have it unfold in by the time the short story is finished. It is difficult to write a story that is that short and have it still wow the reader. Short stories are just as important and challenging as novels, non-fiction, poetry, and all other kinds of literature. Writing is writing, in all forms. It is how you do it that matters.

    Good luck in your pursuit to become a writer. I wish you the best of luck.

    ~Natalie
     
  12. Mr Sci Fi
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    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

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    You're better off traveling around the world, experiencing all different sorts of cultures and meeting unique characters. The next best thing of course is sitting in a classroom all day reading about these people and places whom you've never met and you've never been to.

    Since I'm poor, I have to settle for that. :-(

    The best tool for a writer is experience. Get it. Note it. Write it.

    The School of Life is the most important education of all.
     

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