Here’s an interesting article I thought Crimespacers would like to read. It runs along the line of “It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill” idea. Who among us have hit that million or 500,000 word milestone and would like to share their thoughts. CJ
I probably have. Eight novels, eleven or twelve short stories, and a trilogy. Also a dissertation. What thoughts? (Make that nine novels.)
Well, OK, the blogger is still at the beginning of the road. My thoughts then are: it doesn't really change all that much. You keep putting the million words on paper. And getting them published doesn't mean you've made it.
That’s great, I.J. I have always enjoyed reading how to books on writing and drawing, even though they all tend to sound a like after a while. Have you ever considered writing an instruction guide for crime fiction? Maybe something that would be published through Writer’s Digest.
No. There are already lots of these. Probably because they sell better than the actual crime novels. No doubt they contain some good advice, but there is really not much they can help you with. You have to sit down and write, and then rewrite, and then revise, and so forth. The style improves the more you string words together. The rest of the stuff you need to learn from reading good crime novels and watching how those authors did it.
Is that a Holbein drawing?
Thank you for noticing. No it’s a self-portrait I did of myself trying to mimic the soft style of Holbein’s charcoal and Ingres’ graphite drawings. I’m impressed. You have a good eye for art styles. This is how I work to improve my own art skills is by creating an original of some kind than I’ll follow and mimic the pencil strokes from one of the masters. I was pretending to a schizophrenic mock up of Holbein and Ingres while I was drawing it. I recently completed a children’s story, and I hoping to add a little flavor of Alan Lee to my illustrations, so I have been studying up close in how he moves his pencils around the page. There is always evidence on the page of how an artist rendered and worked a piece. It’s kinda like being a csi detective trying to figure out the movements and strokes of the arm and hand to determine what happened. Only in this case its graphite and not blood splatter at a crime scene…and it's a little more sanitary too. :)
Excellent! I used to copy Brueghel and Chardin paintings. Also a Van Gogh. It gets easier the more modern it is. Picasso should be a breeze. :)
How-to books tend to sound alike, because they all tell us the same things. But I have never read a how-to book or article where I didn't learn at least something, reinforce something I already knew, or put a new twist on what I know.
After all these years, and all I've done. I still learn from them.
I.J. has it right, there are a lot of them out there. One of the best on mystery writing is:
"Writing and Selling the Mystery Novel:How to Knock 'em Dead with Style," by Hallie Ephron. It is virtually a graduate course is writing the mystery, but it's not a bubble-gum read. It's work to read and apply it.
I'm closing in on a half-million words, including thirty-two published short works in the 500-16,000 word range. Five novels and five more short works have yet to be published. I probably have another half-million words that I would never let anyone see. The charitable term for those efforts would be "learning curve."
Those half-a-million words that no one will ever see are every bit as important as the published ones. CJ
There are no true milestones. Some very few writers have it from the vary beginning--probably less than 1/10,000th of a percent. Doing the math that's one in a million writers and that may be a generous assessment. Those who have it from the beginning usually have read books since childhood, tinkered with writing stories and books before their teens and wanted to write from their earliest years.
I had never seen the 500,000 word number before. I always though it was a million words, but the half-million I think is about where I was when I sold my first novel and first shortstory on the same day. Both novel and story were relative trash, but I had found a market to work with. Later, I learned that both Dean Koontz and Lawrence Block had apprenticed with the same publisher.
I have written a lot since then, most of it genre work. I think I have written something like ten million words by now, maybe more. A bit less than half of that has been published. I probably published a million and half words with that first publisher when the market took a drastic turn. My genre got more demanding, and I was still a poor editor. (Dyslexia) I had to work harder at my craft, just to get published. I have publshed a lot of words since then, but never with a major market.
What bothers me is people who "always wanted to write" but never did much about it until they did one of those book-in-a-month things and then think that they have written a best seller. Some publish their work on the internet or they self-publish. Many don't know proper English or American construction, have no sense of plot or character, and think that editing is something only a professional editor has to worry about. To be honest, though, it's what I thought when I started out. I had to work damn hard at getting published and even harder to get good.
Yeah, you need to write a half-million words to even come close.
The true formula is "Read, Read, Read; Write, Write, Write" If you read far more than you write, your path to puplication will be quicker. Your path to riches? Damn if I know, I'm still working at that part of it.
To get rich, you have to be not only good, but lucky.
It makes me proud that one of my fellow dyslexics can write over 50 published novels. I still to this date have about a fith grade spelling capability. Thank god for word processing software. Where would dyslexics like us be without it? Keep up the great work, Jack. cj