WORDS FROM THE WISE/PART 15 – Jonathan Maberry
Philadelphia horror writer Jonathan Maberry lets us in on the five steps that got him to where he is now – New York Times best-selling author and five times winner of the Bram Stoker Award…
The question posed to each author is – “A young author comes to you seeking advice. They’re riddled with insecurities and completely overwhelmed by the publishing industry. What are your Words from the Wise?”There are several important things to know about becoming successful as a writer. Things I wish I’d know earlier in my career.
First –be very good at what you do. Having a natural gift for storytelling is great, but you need to learn the elements of craft. That includes figurative and descriptive language, pace, voice, tense, plot and structure, good dialogue, and many other skills. Good writers are always learning, always improving.
Second –learn the difference between ‘writing’ and ‘publishing’. Writing is an art, it’s a conversation between the writer and the reader. Publishing is a business whose sole concern is to sell copies of art. Publishing looks for those books that are likely to sell well. There is absolutely no obligation for anyone in publishing to buy and publish a book totally on the basis of it being well written. It has to be something they can sell. A smart writer learns how to take their best writing and find the best way to present it to the publishing world, and then to support it via social media once it’s out.
Third –you are more important than what you write. A writer is a ‘brand’. That brand will, ideally, generate many works –books, short stories, etc. Each work should be written with as much passion, skill, love, and intelligence as possible, but when it’s done, the writer moves on to the next project. And the next.
Fourth –finish everything you start. Most writers fail because they don’t finish things. Be different.
Fifth –don’t try to be perfect. First drafts, in particular, are often terrible. Clunky, badly-written, awkward, filled with plot holes and wooden dialogue. Who cares? All a first draft needs to have in order to be perfect is completeness. It is revision that makes it better, and makes it good enough to sell.So, don’t beat up on yourself if your early drafts are bad. Everyone’s early drafts are bad. Everyone.