Recently someone asked what advice I’d give to a fledgling fantasy author. My immediate thoughts were: read and write. But there’s a bit more to it. So I thought I’d break it down for you in today’s post:
Get familiar with the craft of writing
Start reading. If you’re a brand new writer, the first thing you want to do is get familiar with the craft. The best way to do this is to immerse yourself in stories. It’s easier to write a good story when you can recognize the elements that make an enjoyable story. Head over to Amazon Bestsellers and review some top books in that genre. As you read, pay attention to what the author does. How do they use action, dialogue, characterization and description?
Choose your genre. Some of the most popular genres right now are romance, fantasy and mystery/thriller. However, there are many genres and depending on what you want to create, it’s good to know what genre your book will fit into. If you’re curious about finding a market for your book, check out the data from K-Lytics.
Practice by free-writing
Free-writing is a technique I use to get my creative juices flowing. I started a journal when I was 8 or 9 years old and the daily practice of writing helps me organize my thoughts. Now, you don’t have to journal daily but I recommend taking time to write about anything and everything.
Try to capture the five senses when you write to give yourself a broad grasp. Remember, this is just a practice. No judgement, editing or deleting allowed.
Here are some idea:
- Write about the couple chatting at your local coffee shop and pay attention to their body language.
- Write about the way the leaves change to red and gold in the fall.
- Write about the way your favorite dinner or drink tastes and go beyond taste to your emotional response.
- Write about the people or objects that trigger happy and sad memories.
Read books about the craft of writing
This is a big one for me. As an avid reader, I instinctively know the art of storytelling. However, there’s no harm in reading books to help you take your skills to the next level.
Some major errors I made with my first book included: head hopping, overuse of adverbs, and use of passive words and phrases. Since then, I’ve focused on continual improving of my writing with each book I publish.
There are many elements to storytelling and here are some of my favorite blog posts that help break it down:
- How to Write a Novel Using The Three Act Structure by Reedsy
- How to go from Idea to Manuscript in 90 Days or Less by Story Creative HQ
I personally recommend these books:
Establish your writing routine
As a new author, you are already familiar with “writer’s block.” It’s not a myth and I’ve certainly been there when I was writing my second book, The Blended Ones. One way you can combat writer’s block is by setting up a writing routine. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. When people ask me how I write so fast, it’s because I’ve spent hours practicing, studying and repeating. You don’t have to write every single day, but it helps you keep the writer’s flow if you do.
My writing routine consists of writing five days a week for up to ten hours. Here are my three must haves for a good writing session:
Brainstorm ahead of time. I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, however, while I often know where the story is going, I don’t always know what the characters will do in a particular scene. Before I start writing, I usually brainstorm what I want to happen which gives me a place to begin when I sit down to write. This also alleviates staring at a blank page for an hour.
Turn on music. When I sit down to write, I usually turn on a playlist to help me get in the mood. Since I write fantasy, listening to epic fantasy soundtracks helps me dive into the vibe of the book I’m working on.
Turn off all notifications and other distractions. When you focus on one thing at a time instead of multi-tasking, you can get more done. I turn off all notifications on my laptop and put my phone on silent (not vibrate, silent.) From there I can dive into the world of writing, much like diving into a virtual reality.
Make friends with authors
While it helps to have a mentor it also helps to create friendships with authors who will encourage and uplift you. You can do this both online and in person. When I wrote my first novel, The Five Warriors, I had an accountability partner I’d check in with every week. She wrote nonfiction, but it was helpful to have someone check in with me. If you’re looking for an accountability partner or just want to connect with authors, I recommend using Meetups.
Recommended reading: How to Start a Local Writing Group
Familiarize yourself with the basics of book marketing
Regardless of whether you plan to self-publish or go the traditional publishing route, you have to be familiar with marketing basics. Even publishers want their authors to have a website, grow an email list and establish a presence online.
As a new authors it’s important to start building your tribe. It can be as simple as creating your social media profiles and a landing page where readers can learn more about your upcoming work and join your email list.
That’s it. What advice do you have for new authors? What do you wish you’d known when you began writing?