What I Wish Someone Told Me

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by Suzanne D. Williams

I got it into my head to write fiction one afternoon, and I wish someone had sat me down and given me “the talk.” I’m not sure I would have listened. Anyone enthusiastic about a new project goes deaf, at firstYou know how it is, you become an expert inside of twenty-four hours. But anyhow, looking back at that decision, there are several things I wish I would have known.

Every first-time writer is an idiot.

Honestly, if someone had told me how stupid I was, and I’d approached writing from said position of dumbness, I would have been better off. I wasted so much energy writing slop that, my fresh dedication to it set aside, needed to go in the dustbin. (It has since gone in the dustbin.)

There will always be a time of learning. No one goes from the bottom rung of the ladder to the top overnight (or halfway, whatever. I’m not being conceited). You need to write the slop to find your voice, your genre, and to learn how to write.

If only I’d gone slower and taken my time, I’d have this perfect shelf of books with my name on them. All organized and pretty, with less tattered pages and out-of-print, I-hope-no-one-sees-this editions.

What do you mean “plot?”

No one told me “plot” mattered. I had no instructions on how to plot. The word “outline” was never breathed in my direction. I didn’t know plot could stall, go awry, make rabbit trails, move at different speeds. I’d read lots of books, mind you, yet still, I knew beans about plot. 

Or writing terms. I’d never herd of a protagonist. Or given any thought to writing styles. I didn’t know first person from third. I did have a good handle on punctuation. I was a proofreader for years but knowing commas will not help you write a book.

Books can be looooooong.

I should have known this. I used to love thick books. Now, if a book is only 20-30k, I’m ecstatic. But when I got started, I wrote a lot of stories around 15k and really thought I’d done something amazing. Someone should have mashed me back into my chair and, with a deep voice, warned me that was really only one-quarter of the total length of a novel, if that.

It’s taken me years to learn how to write 40k. I’ve worked hard at scene content, to know what to include. I skipped all over the place in the beginning. I see writers say they have to cut content, and that is like the best joke ever.

Don’t be a lazy writer.

Too many people say to break the rules. But in order to break them, you need to know them. To know them, you have to practice them. Good rulebreaking comes when the rules make sense.

Showing is better than telling. Avoid passive verbs. Don’t overuse “as” and “when.” These and many more serve a purpose, and frankly, the people telling you to break them are usually making an excuse for lazy writing.

Lazy writers rely on editors to fix their mistakes, instead of not making mistakes to start with. Lazy writers don’t think about their writing but put down whatever pops into their head. When most of writing is thinking, planning, squeezing out that one perfect sentence. On a great writing day, I’ve given myself a headache figuring a scene out.

Writing is more about bumps and bruises than it is accolades. Which brings me to my last point.

People can seriously suck.

If I’d known people sucked as much as they do, then I would have squared my shoulders for it a lot sooner. That story I adored, someone thought was “boring.” Another one, the reviewer actually said not to read my book, but instead, she recommended somebody else.

To be a writer, you must have a stiff spine and a good helmet because the darts are going to come. You must know who you are and what you believe and not care two rips what Granny McPherson says about your book. Maybe Granny ate too much garlic and read my book while fighting dyspepsia.

Not that I’m all that, you understand. Yes, writers must be willing to learn and correct their mistakes. On the other hand, so much of what readers say is caca. Knowing that would have saved me a lot of heartache.

In conclusion

Maybe you are that green-faced newbie I was, years ago. I applaud you for your new awesome book thing. At the same time, this is me grabbing you by the shoulders and shaking you so hard your brains rattle. “Are you nuts??”

You will spend hours, days, weeks, months with these fake people, and they won’t cooperate. They will do their own thing, no matter how hard you try to get them to behave. Characters don’t listen to writers. They don’t follow outlines (if you’re into those). They routinely make up their own minds.

When you think you’ve finally got them in line, you’ll release your private, perfect world to the public (or an agent-editor-publisher), and it’ll all go crazy. Before, it was just you and them. Now it’s you and them and other people’s opinions of them. It’s rejection and hair-pulling and defense mode and way too much time counting zeros. It’s talking about yourself in third person, because every writer loves doing that. It’s blurbs (gah!) and marketing and editing and graphic designers and web gurus.

But if you’ll hang in there on this rollercoaster we call writing, the target center of your back, your arms thrown wide, all come-and-get-me, the community of writers is great. And words are addicting. And book boyfriends really are better. And that one five-star review is the best high.

And seeing your name in print really is worth it, despite the mistakes, the I-should-haves. No, the writing won’t get easier, but being you, as a writer, will. I wish someone had told me that. To focus on the reward and less on the risk. Less on the potholes, the twisted ankles, the sprains. And more on who I would be, surrounded by stories I’d created. 

Available August 1, 2019. 

On kindle https://amzn.to/2xDLwgq 

or at other retailers https://books2read.com/u/4je8YZ 

God’s a whole lot bigger than Texas. The final book in the series! 

Welcome to Texas - Cowboys of the Double R

About The Author:

Suzanne D. WilliamsBest-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit www.feelgoodromance.com or link with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor or on Twitter at twitter.com/SDWAuthor 

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