Be an E-Book Writer

So, you want to be a writer and by now you will have read reams and reams about ‘The Art of Writing’ and the very common ‘Creative Writing’ in one shape, form or another. It’s no big secret. All you need is a method of putting words together in some sort of coherent order and a means to finally produce them in hard copy format. To the average guy this simply means access to a PC and Printer. So, there you go…you are now fully equipped to become an Author…but don’t get the new visiting cards printed just yet! … you will need another one or two other items in your armoury before battle commences.

How to Start:

You now have a PC and are eager to get down to it. Ideas are spilling out of your head like snowflakes in a blizzard…and you simply want to get them down on paper. But hang on a minute, writing, especially fiction, is a very orderly process, so you need to start in an orderly fashion. Firstly, you will need to create a new folder on your PC specifically for your book. Give it a title, maybe the title of the book itself or simply ‘My Book’. This first stage of getting organised to write your book is very important, because whatever you are planning to write, you will need to ‘plan’ the writing of it. This folder will contain other folders as your needs reveal themselves such as ‘Research’, ‘Images’, ‘Maps’, ‘Sketch’ and ‘Rewrites’…for example.

What will you Write About?:

Having set up your computer with your folder and having loads of ideas ready to spill out across the yet unwritten page, you may need to pause for a second or two and confirm the category and genre of your literary production. We can start with ‘Fact’ or ‘Fiction’ and below you may find from the small sample provided, some categories that will fit the bill.

Book Categories:

Fiction:

Action & Adventure: Classics:  Fantasy: General:  Literary: Mystery: Romance.: Suspense & Thrillers: Science Fiction: Western:

Nonfiction:

Arts:  Architecture:  Photography:  Automotive:  Biography:  Autobiography: Memoir:   Cooking:  Food:  Drink:  Entertainment:  Health:   Fitness:   Beauty:   History:  Hobbies:   Puzzle & Games:  Home & Garden:  Mind:  BodY:  Spirit:   Performing Arts:  Philosophy:  Reference:  ReligioN:  Spirituality:   Science & Nature:   Sports:  Business & Economics:  Careers:  Computers & the Internet:  Management:

Young Readers:

For Ages 0-3:   For Ages 4-6:   For Ages 7-9:   For Ages 10-Up:

There are of course many more categories and genres available to slot your new work in to and you will have to make up your mind which one suits your cause best, but once you have chosen one, you are on your way. Congratulations! Be warned however that many books in the writing, start out as one genre and end up as another, with all attempts to reasonably find the point at which the crossover took place noted down in your diary of frustrations as a failure.

The E-Book Writer

 

So…You’re ready to be a Writer….!

Now comes the difficult bit. You are confident in your ability to write; that is to put words down on paper in a reasonable order. You have all the tools to write with such as a PC, laptop or plain, ordinary pen and paper. You have set up some file folders on your PC, or bought yourself a paper notebook dedicated to your new writing project. You have also decided what type of book to write, what category it would reasonably be found under in a library or on-line store…..and now you simply need to get the first chapter written.

Here We Go..!

If you are lucky enough to have a literary degree in your particular language or have had some formal writing training such as journalism or as a technical author, you will no doubt have certain skills that will allow you to productively ‘hit the keys’ straight away. If not, you may need to pause for second or two and consider the following.

Fiction…..A World of your Own

If your book is to fall in to the category of Fiction, then there are many sub-categories or genres that the final work will fall in to. So how do you go about writing a ‘Fiction’ book, a book where in general, the whole of the content is in effect a ‘made up’ story set either in the present, the future or the past? If the setting is the future, you may let your imagination run wild, as no one really knows what will happen in the future. However, be aware that your storyline, the events contained within the story and the ‘props’ used to support the story could suddenly catch up with you and what you write as an event in the future could, in ten years time actually be about an event that is diarised in the past. So the big decision here is how to place your story; in what theatre of events, in what country and what language. With the story line so strong, it’s literally beating a path out of your brain, you will have thought of the detailed setting, the period and the characters and now you want to write chapter one! That’s great. You know how to start it….but do you know how to finish it? Every writer will have a different way of working and some lucky individuals can un-fussily sit in front of a keyboard and simply write. There are not many that fall in to such a category and for most it’s a hard slog. So here are a few hints to make your life a little easier.

Your Storyline – Most who write fiction do so by referring to a memory bank of people, places and events that have be recalled in order to mix with a set of fictional circumstances that actually make up the story. A fiction writer is simply a ‘story teller’ who will often admit that many of the characters, some of the places and often an embellished set of events, have been gathered together from real memories of real people in real situations. Therefore, as a fiction writer, make sure that your characters are as unrecognisable as sensibly possible by the real person, especially where character names are concerned.

Your Research Plan – You have the storyline in your head. You have a beginning, a middle and an end…so what do you need to ‘Research’? Well, for example, if your story calls for someone to have their head blown off with an AK47, using a standard 7.62mm round….. at a range of 600 metres, then at some stage in the future, someone, somewhere, will write indignantly to you advising that the effective range of such weaponry would only be around 400metres. You have now lost a fan, along with a future book sale and he will enjoy telling all his mates that you are an ‘inaccurate’ writer. He may also use other adjectives. When you are writing fiction with a scenario in the past or present, then you need to make sure that everything researchable is well researched. From makes of cars driven, to types of watches consulted….from the ring of a particular telephone type to the name of a hotel that your character stayed in….make sure they were all seen to be reality within the fiction scenario you have conjured up.

Your Characters – The characters that hold together your storyline are so well formed in your head that you don’t need to do anything other than simply throw their names down on the page, in the right order and get them in to action. In your own world of fiction, that’s absolutely fine. However, this process allows the possibility of you writing some of your characters in to roles, within the storyline, that they are not equipped to handle. Having a seventy year old ex truck driver running a three minute mile, then jumping a twelve foot wide stream, to escape the clutches of the villain on a bicycle at twenty miles an hour, will raise eyebrows amongst some of your more ‘picky’ readers…….and may even prompt them to put your beautifully written work down. Perhaps you should ensure that you have written a full ‘Bio’ for each of your characters and as you write, you will suddenly see so much more, or so much less in them that you originally thought. Store the ‘Bio’s’ in a separate folder, one document file for each character and every now and again, look at them in detail to ensure that your characters and the situations they find themselves in are reasonable.

So, remembering these three simple disciplines will hopefully make your fiction book, your storyline and the characters more acceptable to your readers. There are of course hundreds of tips and tricks to learn as a writer, but this is not a lecture and you are not a student. You are a writer and all the really important lessons you will ever learn will be by simply getting involved in the process.

The E-Book Writer

Getting the Story Straight

Now we need to move on to non-fiction or ‘fact’ actually. A non-fiction writer is no less of a story teller that a fiction writer but the real difference is that the story being told is about people who have really lived and events that have actually happened. So, there is accuracy on one side and poetic licence on the other and veering too far in one particular direction may affect the success of your finished work. You may also alienate any possible relationship you may have with characters or relatives of characters described in the book, who are still living. A typical work of this kind could be a Biography and although you may have a particular slant on the life and maybe lifestyle of the subject under scrutiny, it is important to ensure that you get your facts straight.!! There are many categories of non-fiction such as Biographies and Autobiographies, probably the largest single category, along with say cookbooks, gardening & horticulture, health & fitness, history & military history, reference, science, travel, regional interest and many, many more.

Biographies, Autobiographies and Ghost-writers .

You have someone living that you want desperately to write about. You may call that a Biography, but if you take the time and trouble to contact that particular someone, you may find that that he, she or they would be very happy to co-operate with you, turning your work in to an Autobiography…and you in to a Ghost-writer. The role of a Ghost-writer can vary from project to project, the highest level of involvement being a trap-to-line authorship of the complete finished work and the lowest being some sort of editing role before the manuscript is rushed off to the publishers. Either way, you should earn some money from the work employed and some sort of book credit even at the lowest end of involvement. The ‘money’ part could range from a full authoring deal with a publisher to maybe a once off payment for services rendered. If you are authoring a biography, you will need to ensure that you have kept a watchful eye on the legalities of the undertaking BEFORE you actually start the manuscript.

There is no secret other than…..Planning!

As with Fiction writing, you need to plan your work and this sounds absolutely fine….until you have a subject in mind, that came to you in a flash of inspiration at two o’clock in the morning and now you just want to ‘get it all down on paper’..! No…No…No…park the enthusiasm in a large glass of Merlot or an even larger glass of Chardonnay for later on, have a delicious and healthy breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, black pudding and mushrooms….and then sit down, on your own, in a quiet place and start to plan!

Plan ‘A’ – This is normally the first plan and will incorporate two very important elements called Research and Confirmation. With the availability of the Internet and probably your very best friend ‘Wikipedia’…… research nowadays is a piece of cake. However, confirming all that you read about someone or something on the Internet can be much more difficult and often very time consuming. If you were around in the 1950’s BC (Before Computers) you may be used to having written files as your research output, resulting from daily visits to your local library….if you still have one. If so, you need to keep two files; one being the subject research and the other being the confirmation research. You may bless the day you heard of ‘Plan A’ when you are sitting in a courtroom somewhere, being asked awkward questions as to how you arrived at certain conclusions, now irrecoverably aired to a worldwide audience through the pages of your smash hit Biography…Sid ‘Safebreaker’ Stevens – My Biggest Hauls. If you did have the advantage of being born inside a reinforced software box, then you will need to stop laughing and do the same with your project folders on your hard drive, backed up of course on a CD or some such similar gadget.!

Plan ‘B’ – This is the second plan. If you are fortunate enough to be able to interview a celebrity such as Sid ’Safebreaker’ Stevens…or any of his offspring, for example, please ensure that you ask permission to record all interviews. If the answer is Yes, record away but make sure you keep the original recordings safe and at the start of each recording tape, make sure you note verbally on the tape, the time, date, location of the interview, who the interview is between and if anyone else is present in the room. Make copies of the tapes and keep the originals safe, working off the copies for your manuscript. With any type of factual work, you should employ both Plan ‘A’ and Plan ‘B’ in putting together the necessary research to provide your masterpiece with suitable impact. If your book is about sport, interview some sportsmen. If your book is about some historical figure, interview some historians who are well informed on the subject matter. Quality research creates quality information which creates quality content delivered by quality writing. The decision is yours!

Know Your Subject…..!

Yes….of course…..that’s what everyone says. You know your subject like the back of your hand and your mum and dad can confirm that to anyone who enquires. However, if you are writing about a science or travel subject for example, it would be most useful if you had a history as a recognised scientist, specialising in the subject under your pen, or a travel journalist whose name jumps out of the travel pages of a well known Sunday newspaper. Not only do you need to ‘know’ your subject inside out, through the pages of your book, you will need to prove it to an anxious agent and a very ‘picky’ publisher. If you publish the finished work yourself, you will of course have to prove it to your readers and reviewers or all of your dedication and hard work will end up in the rough end of the infamous one dollar book club market.

So…writing your work of ‘non-fiction’ could actually keep you in work for the next twenty years and turning you in to such an expert on your chosen subject that you are regularly invited on to the sofa of your morning National TV Network news magazine show. On the other hand, you could be staring in to the scarred and ugly face of Sid ‘Safebreaker’ Stevens, who still wants to know where you obtained his girlfriends name and address; some well protected information his wife of twenty years had now used to re-arrange the young lady’s front windows. Finally, you may be in the embarrassing position of having your friends order your lovingly created book from an on-line book club, with the postage costing more than the title and the rear jacket endorsement by an elated Mum and Dad providing little or no comfort to your Bank Manager, who has supported you through ‘the process’ …..and would now like you to find a ‘proper job’. Whatever position you find yourself in, when asked, please do not describe yourself as someone ‘developing your techniques’! You are a writer…… and once you start….if you have passion….you will always be one!

The E-Book Writer

 

Telling a ‘Novel’ Story

If you have an idea for a novel and are really serious about telling the story, you now need to make an important decision about how much planning you are going to do? Some would say to you, simply skip the planning stage and just start writing, and though this can produce a result of sorts, it is a dangerous path, full of pitfalls and many unnecessary roadblocks. On the other hand, you could make a detailed outline or sketch and a chapter-by-chapter list of plot points and character descriptions, but this ‘sensible’ route can be littered with just as many problems. Let’s have a very quick look at both methods.

Careful Plotting – Detailed Sketch.

The benefits of the detailed sketch maybe obvious, in that during the process, you organize your thoughts and construct your characters. If you have a theme in mind, this will help you to deliver exactly what you plan to deliver, and if you are dealing with a complex plot and a cast of many characters, this will assist greatly in eliminating plot failures. In general, there are three things you might want to outline in your sketch: back-story, characters, and plot. Though all three of these things are important, the genre of your story might benefit from a heavy focus on just one. You may want to make sure you fully iron out the plot and story-line, if your work veers toward the convoluted mystery thriller.

For the back-story, you need to ensure you do not get carried away. It’s fairly essential for fiction writing to have a well developed history, but don’t get so involved in creating a past that your main character loses sight of the present. If the back-story gets too large and detailed, it will overwhelm the main story you’re trying to write and can also be a black hole for some writers.  A lot of sci-fi and fantasy is prone to this quite major story-line problem.

Going For It….

Of course, sometimes it’s actually better to just ‘go for it’ and let your mind spill out the story without worrying about pages and pages of notes, a detailed sketch, or spotlessly detailed character profiles.  There are dangers, but there are also benefits to this method. Writing ‘on the hoof’ often means you’ll not get bored with working on your story. The problem many creative people have after trudging through outlines and plans is that, once you’ve written a story in your head, putting it down on paper becomes a pain. You may be thinking that if you improvise your entire writing project, it will be full of plot vacuum’s, your characters may disappear into the background and the finished work will generally fail to hold the attention of the reader. However, it’s not quite as bad as you think. You can sort out all but the most complex plot holes and character inconsistencies in the editing phase. You will of course have to spend more time editing than you otherwise would but at this stage, the plot outline will still exist inside your head, making the whole situation easier, holding your attention for the long run and producing a result containing much more spontaneous narrative, and therefore a more exciting read.

Every Which Way But Loose…

However you decide to manage your book writing project, don’t be surprised if your story doesn’t turn out quite the way you expect. Character outlines and a detailed sketch can be incredibly useful tools to create discipline in you, the writer, but don’t treat them as an absolute necessity. Remember, if your story doesn’t have the capacity to surprise its writer, it probably won’t have the capacity to surprise its reader either. Be creative, be adaptive, but most of all…be happy being a writer.

 The E-Book Writer

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