Thursday, July 28, 2011

Humble Advice for Aspiring Authors

I have two humble bits of advice for aspiring authors. First, give your characters free rein. Let them change the story on you. Life is an adventure; we don’t know what tomorrow will bring and a novel should be just as surprising for the author as for the reader.

I started EDGE OF ESCAPE with a particular ending in mind. In fact, I wrote the penultimate scenes immediately after writing the beginning scenes. Rebecca, the victim, would be rescued, I thought. I wrote a scene of her recovering in the hospital with a young male character standing vigil. I didn’t name him so I could keep the reader guessing. Kidnapper , boyfriend, brother? I thought I knew who it was when I wrote the scene, but it turned out that I was wrong. I can control the circumstances and events as they unfold, but by giving the characters free will, I give the book its own world.

I don’t write a lengthy outline like some authors, but I do have a plan, just like in life. But, just like in life, things don’t go the way I plan; there are twists, turns, surprises and problems. I guess you could say that my characters rebel against me, their creator, just like we humans have been rebelling against our Creator since Adam and Eve.

When I first started writing many years ago I got into the habit of following a writing routine. First I like to proofread the previous day’s pages then go for a walk. With the last scenes fresh in my mind I create new action, dialogue and dilemmas as I get my exercise. Forty-five minutes later I sit back down to type. The characters obediently follow my plot ideas for a few paragraphs and then . . . bam! They rebel. I don’t mind because what they decide to say and do keeps me interested and entertained.

My second piece of advice is to love your characters, even the evil ones. Care for them. Give them hopes, dreams, habits, idiosyncrasies, goals, fears and flaws. Make sure your protagonist has some defect and your antagonist has some merit; nobody is all good or all bad.

Everybody has a book inside. If a colleague hadn’t challenged me with that statement I never would have written my first book, let alone several. You have a book inside – go write it!

(I wrote this piece for a guest blog at Wise Words. Hop over there and check out the other helpful posts she has as well as her books, Eden and A Proper Charlie.)


  1. Enjoyed your post even though I am a reader not a writer.
    I am fixing to host my first book tour and they asked me to choose three topics that I would like for the author to address. This being my first do you have any suggestions. I don't want to come up with some silly ordinary topics for her.
    Patricia aka Mamaw

    mamaw1050 at att dot net

  2. I had to make another comment on your post. In my first comment I said I was a reader not a writer. When I write in my journal, especially after reading scripture, my writings seem to even amaze me sometimes. But if I am pressed to write a book report, not a review, but a book report I seem to freeze up and go blank. I know I enjoyed the book and that I will write a review. I know I have many good topics for several books in my head. When I was in school I loved grammar and lit. Enjoyed reading the books but when it came to writing my book report bad news, bad grade.

    Hope my ramblings weren't too much for you ;)


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