Below, I discuss how I go about the process of writing and convey my opinions on what other authors should consider doing if they're serious about getting published.
I believe that the writing process begins with inspiration. Long before my fingers ever hit the keyboard to write, I have to come up with a great idea. Something that gets me excited (and in the case of a novel, something that enthralls me enough to want to spend multiple years working on it). So, where do I find inspiration? In almost all cases, I've found it in the books that I've read, the TV shows & movies that I've watched, and video games that I've played. Head to the Influences and Recommendations page to learn about the specific works of fiction (and non-fiction) that I've drawn from to craft my stories.
To quote King Solomon from the Old Testament, "There's nothing new under the sun." Let's face it, the entertainment industry has reached a point where everything has been done before. Every cop, lawyer, and hospital drama. Every family sitcom where the father screws up and has to make it up to his wife & kids. Every love and dance song. Every hero who saves the human race from the forces of evil, aliens, or strange phenomena. We've truly entered the age of recycling. Every story has been told. So, as a modern author, what we have to do is take bits & pieces from different sources and combine those aspects in new ways.
Do Your Homework
While inspiring plot ideas and characters rattle around in your head taking shape, I urge you to learn how to write. Read books on plot structuring, character development, viewpoint, world-building, and other aspects of writing (visit the Links and Resources page for a list of the resources that have helped me). Do online research. Attend writing groups. Personally, I don't believe anyone can just sit down, start writing, and create a publishable story based on the strength of their ideas alone without putting in the time & effort to learn how to structure those ideas. Almost all publishable commercial fiction possesses the same fundamental, underlying structure. If you don't know to begin a story with a character in action, or if you're unclear on the definition of a "data/info dump," or if you've never heard of a door of no return, or if you don't realize that every character must have a fatal flaw, or if you don't write sentences in active tense--you get the idea--you need to put as much or more time into developing your writing skills as you put into developing your ideas. Let me put it this way. No one would ever hire you as a lawyer, doctor, or computer programmer if you hadn't first gone to school to learn law, medicine, or coding. Most people spend years immersing themselves in these trades before attaining the qualifications to succeed at them. So, why in the world would you think that you can write a publishable story without doing the same?
My approach to developing the story is structured and somewhat scientific. I start by outlining. I write out my premise (synopsis) as best as I know it in the beginning. I create a list of scenes and write, at a high level, what happens in each scene. Knowing what happens in chapter twenty tells you what setup needs to happen in chapter two. I create a bio for each character, which lists the character's age, personality traits, flaws, chief motivation, looks, and so on. I create the technology I'm going to use and do online research to verify that it could work (in theory). I search for names for people, places, and things. Often, I'm able to choose terms that have meaning within the context of the story, like the name of a Greek God known for betrayal for one of my antagonists.
Only when I've done my research and outlined the story to a reasonable degree do I begin writing. I tend to be a slow and meticulous writer. I strive to get it right the first time, although that never happens. I take the time to work things out in my head. Actions must occur in logical order. People must behave within character. It may take me a couple hours to write a page.
After you've written one or more chapters, share them with a writing group or anyone else. I've grown by leaps and bounds by not only submitting my work to writing groups but also by reading other people's work. I think it's far easier to critique others' writing, to see what to do and what not to do. In my opinion, the biggest obstacle an author faces within the writing process is his or her own bias. A huge problem arises because the author knows too much. You're familiar with the entire world of your story, and there's far more story in your head than you could ever write down. So, it's critical that others read your work. Only other people can tell you whether what you've written makes sense and if it compels or not. Everybody's story is the most amazing story ever written in their head as they imagine it. But only other human beings besides you can confirm whether the most important information and most enthralling aspects of the story exist on the page. As you learn and grow as a writer, you'll get better as acknowledging your bias. But you'll always need confirmation from others. Letting others read your work can be scary at first, but if you don't do it, you'll never improve beyond a certain point.
Once you've collected feedback on your work, apply their comments. Don't get too attached to any one part of the story. You might have to cut a paragraph or two that you absolutely love for the greater good of the plot. You may end up having to edit and revise multiple times, shift scenes around, say goodbye to unnecessary characters, etc. Each of my novels and major short stories have gone through a minimum of three drafts. I'll also never forget the first time I submitted the first chapter of my first novel to my first writing group (there were many "firsts" on that day). They tore it to figurative pieces. Years later, I now often get commended for my opening scenes, and my critique groups find fewer and fewer necessary changes in my work.
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Beyond Cloud Nine
Beyond the Horizon
With the Earth conquered, Admiral Maya Davis must travel through space, time, and alternate universes to prevent mankind from being wiped out of existence.
Lyana, an orphaned martial artist with bio-augmented abilities,
embarks on a quest to liberate her home world and prevent the fabric of the universe from unraveling.
Bears in Space
Roz and his goofball crew must save the galaxy from cliche alien invasions, trite zombie apocalypses, and bad rom-coms.
Ryssa Nilsson must avoid the deadly stings of heat-loving bugs known as
thermophiles and escape Mars before the Sun's expansion
sterilizes the planet.