Lots of writing topics popping up lately.
I’ve been working on something (seriously) for about 6 months now. I’ve written it in the past, the first 100 pages or so, about five or six times. Each time I got progressively better, and this last time (I started again on my birthday this year - Feb 3rd) I thought I was doing great.
Then I read over what I had (I got through the first 55 pages, writing single spaced 12 point TNR w/ 1/2" margins, so that’s actually about twice as many pages of a trade paperback) and realized… it was still shit. So I just started again over last night, but I’m going to keep some of what I previously wrote and stick it into the new beginning because I know it’ll work, I just have to cut the fat.
Disgruntled gave a few good tips on the publishing industry, but those aren’t necessarily true. It’s almost entirely pointless to try and get an agent before you submit your first manuscript. They won’t be able to really negotiate their 10% in an increase for you because you have no fanbase or selling power yet. But don’t even worry about the publishing process right now; if you’re writing to get published, you’re probably not going to get published. You have to write because you want to write and you’re genuinely interested in the story you have to tell. And most importantly, you have to write a book before it can get published; so don’t even toy with the notion of thinking about thinking about getting published, even though it will always be on the back of your mind. Worry about writing first, then after you have something concrete you can get a shit ton of books (that will actually help you) or read online info about getting published and the correct path to go down for submitting a manuscript.
Another thing I’ve learned about writing (through writing the same fucking thing over and over again) is if you can’t bring yourself to write your story, then you probably shouldn’t. If it’s not interesting to you to the point where you need to tell yourself to stop, then it probably won’t be interesting to the people you want to read it. You have to be really really into it, just like anything else.
It takes lots of practice and lots of hard work. You have to write every day, just like any other craft, unless you’re a gifted natural (which I don’t think anyone is in writing) then you have to practice every day and hone your tools. Write, leave it alone for a bit, and then read over what you wrote. You’ll see plenty of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives and even entire parts of your plot you can cut out because they’re just simply not that interesting or have no real purpose other than to take up space. Hell, the last time I started over in my story I actually combined two characters because one was just taking up room and making the story progress somewhat slowly and actually created more problems than he solved. So two characters became one.
You can pick up books on writing, attend writing seminars, take some courses in college, or join writing groups. Personally, I would suggest the last above all others. I’ve said it in other threads, and I really think writing is like any other artistic medium. Someone can teach you how to use paints and paintbrushes, and teach you the mechanics of depth, how the human body works, shading and perspective, but noone can teach you how to make a good, interesting painting. You have to do that part on your own. If you know how to write a sentence, then you can start writing. You can be told a thousand times over how to create interesting characters, interesting plots and locations and how to write dialogue. It’s ultimately up to you to give life to your characters and actually come up with the plot and other elements without biting off someone elses work or style.
That’s what I’ve learned in my experience as an unprofessional writer. It’s not easy and it takes a creative mind and dedication. If writing a great novel was so damned easy then people would be pumping out best sellers every few months, but that isn’t the case. If you really want to do it, you should start now. Every bit of practice, even if it’s a 5 page short story, will help you in the long run.
Oh, and as for the whole script thing - I’ve read that trying to get scripts accepted generally doesn’t happen. I think a lot of people try to write in script form because it is a lot easier, but you have even less knowledge about the film industry than you do about writing. It’s even harder to get “in” in that industry than it is to get a solid book published. Just write your story and if you have something good and marketable, it will get published eventually.
EDIT: I laugh at myself about the editing process. Even though this is only a message board post I find myself looking it over and correcting repetition and unclear thoughts.