1. RFrancis
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    RFrancis New Member

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    Just a curious question...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by RFrancis, Apr 6, 2012.

    Have there been any famous authors in history that had little to no experience in writing novels? Knowing this would be a pretty big motivational booster knowing you don't have to be some Harvard graduate with a writing degree, or have decades writing articles for newspapers or magazines before ever being considered for publishing.
     
  2. Z. C. Bolger
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    Z. C. Bolger Member

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    Shakespeare :)
     
  3. ShortBus
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    If I were you, I'd wiki a bunch of different authors. I think it would be hard to know the answer to that question unless you actually researched it before or you stumbled upon it somewhere in life.

    In my opinion, I think, if your good; your good. Hell, even if your bad you can still be good. There have been many horrible books and films that have been published. It's really all about the popularity. This "Hunger Games" that I've been hearing so much about is apparently not very well written. That being said, it's still really popular and is selling like hot cakes.

    On the other hand, sometimes you (your book) will be looked over for years or decades until being picked up by the right person(s) and it explodes.

    I think in most cases, it takes a little bit of skill and a lot of luck. Publishers look at $$. It's a business.

    If you think you have more skill than luck, self publish ☺.
     
  4. Z. C. Bolger
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    Z. C. Bolger Member

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    See, I enjoyed the series because of the different writing style. There are very few books out there, especially in the young adult genera, that write from a first person- present time view. I thought that was great.

    Yes, I will admit that there were several things that weren't necessarily needed but I thought it was a great imaginative storyline with relatively well rounded characters.... and I have gotten off subject. lol ;-)
     
  5. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I think a lot of authors, especially in the old days, didn't have "writing degrees". They might have other types of degrees though. The one that comes to mind Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes books), he studied medicine. Although... I almost think that it was much easier to not have a degree in a literary field and write a novel back then just because the concept of a "writing degree" wasn't really a big thing until recently.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Every novelist has had a first novel. Before that, they were unknown, or at least not known for novels. Most did not have formal degrees in writing.

    What they all had was the persistence to keep trying, and keep improving. And that doesn't stop after the first novel is published.
     
  7. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hey I'm hoping a writing degree is not a prerequisite; I did computer science but that didn't pan out, and hopefully some facets of it and college education in general have translated into a decent foundation for good writing.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Harper Lee had almost no experience as a writer (though as a student, she was editor of the University of Alabama's humor magazine) before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. Joseph Conrad was a merchant marine sailor for nearly two decades before writing his first novel (and English was his third language!). He had no training in writing, but is now regarded as one of the masters of English prose.

    There are many examples of writers who have no training in the art and little or no experience before becoming famous. Clive Cussler, for example, was an Air Force sergeant and advertising guy before becoming a successful novelist.

    Just look around. You don't need university training to be a bestselling writer. Writers come from a great many backgrounds. It's kind of encouraging, actually.
     
  9. RFrancis
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    RFrancis New Member

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    this is kind of the focus and target of my story. Its more of the protagonist as the POV, and it involves younger adults. It has a mix of a little graphic detail, but nothing too horrible. The target audience range from Middleschool/highschool to adult.
     
  10. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    I think you'll find those authors had something to write about. What publishers usually sell is the author and what they have done or who they are. If you haven't done much it's pretty hard to get an agent or publisher to spend a lot of money promoting you. Promotion is how they generate sales. It's hard to promote a book. It's easier to promote the Author.
     
  11. RFrancis
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    RFrancis New Member

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    I think a military author of fiction books is a decent start? not too many of them around.. many authors were prior military but how many active? Most active duty writers write about something historical or war-related, am I right? *shrug* I think a giant, descriptive, well-researched fictional world from an AD military member would be something to raise a brow or two about..

    then again I could totally be wrong and just sound like I'm an idiot :D

    Either way, my work isnt motivated by the hopes and dreams of being published. its mainly for my own personal accomplishment and satisfaction. But who knows right?
     
  12. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    There is always alternate ways of doing things. You just have to know a little more and work a little harder at it. A lot of it just boils down to promotion and a good product to promote.
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most famous writers had no related degree, and very many had other careers but started writing later in life (30's and older). But most successful authors dabbled in writing since childhood - stories, poems, novels on the go, writing has always been a part of their life, no matter how small.

    So while you don't need a Harvard degree in English literature, you definitely need life and general writing experience, I think.
     
  14. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    The Hunger Games isn't well written, but even the people who notice buy it/read it/can't put it down, like me. It's written to be gripping.

    I believe The Help was a first novel (Kathryn Stockett, I think.)

    Like people have said, there's always a first. Whether or not it's successful, there has to be a first if anything is to come after ;)
     
  15. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    J.K Rowling and Stephanie Meyer are prtty much what your describing. They both hadn't written before, then BAM both their books become famous. You can tell they haven't writte before since their written style isn't xactly amazing, but their story made up for it atleast! I remember reading something about how Stephen King ripped into Stephanie Meyer, saying that she's a terrible writer lol!
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as cog said, getting the drop on me, ALL authors had no experience writing novels, before they wrote their first one!

    and only a very rare few of the best writers of all time ever took a formal writing course, or had/have writing-related college degrees...
     
  17. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I just want to make things clear so no one gets the wrong idea.

    All of these people who had a first novel that was a big hit... that wasn't their first serious attempt at writing a story. They certainly had written things before. Maybe not novels... but short stories and what-not. I don't think you are going to find anyone that hasn't written anything in their lives suddenly make millions on their first story they have ever written just because the idea was that awesome. I think that is the fantasy that a lot of people getting into writing have but it's just not true. If you haven't written before, just keep doing it and you'll eventually get to the point where you are good enough to write a story that gets published.
     
  18. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    This! I think so too. We don't know how many novel attempts they have done before that big hit. It's dangerous to think that your very first novel ever written (and in its first version) will be a worldwide best seller, because it makes it very easy to give up when you get the rejections, thinking "I'll never become a published author." Some people might need to write two, four or six novels before writing the one that make it to the bookstores.
     
  19. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Hunger Games? Poor writing? Lol reading some other books ive got to say Suzanne Collins is one of the modern greats to the world of reading. There are so many books out there that have gotten published that don't match Collin's writing style. She's a powerful writer and makes the world very vivid, and has gotten many Non-readers to read. To me, that's enough to me that she's a great writer. She's one of my favorites, but that doesn't means she's perfect. After reading a few other books i just had to say she's one of the best Dystopian writers right now. Lois Lowry is another, atleast currently Alive.
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    This in spades. It generally takes a lot of practice to get to the point where you can write a novel that's publishable (Christopher Paolini might be an exception). That's not to say that the practice attempts are wasted. It's not uncommon for a successful author to rework their early attempts to bring them up to publishable standard. Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime series is an example.
     
  21. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Exactly. If you get into writing thinking you'll hit one out of the park on the first go... I think you are setting yourself up for failure. Writing for me is like a hobby. I've gotten decent enough at it, but probably not at the level where I can make a lot of money doing it. Maybe others are more ambitious and want to put the work in and try all of the paths to become famous. In that sense... I might look at a writing career the same way other entertainment careers go (acting, stand up comedy, singing, etc): you might see some guys that are just in the right place at the right time and knew the right people and broke out early in their life, but sometimes you see people that don't get a serious gig till they are in their 40s.
     
  22. RFrancis
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    RFrancis New Member

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    This does however inspire and motivate me more to continue on my work. I realize that you can be a great first-timer author with no experience and produce a decent book, though it doesnt mean you are a good writer, you just have something that convinced publishers and caught the target audience. This too me spells success.

    I am by no means a great writer, but I believe I have some great ideas and I feel that I am really onto something here.
     

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