This is the moment of truth—the moment you finally decide: my damn full name is going to be smacked square on the front cover of this series (or pen name, if my real life acquaintances are such novel-and-idea-stealing assholes).
The moment you remind yourself every morning that this world will be mine, these characters under my mercy, and the sun rising from the south like I asked it to because I’m the damn author. Let the oceans soar like broken glass and depths of turquoise in the sky, their high undersides now deemed midnights for the people I will lead. Let the aurora of the northern hemisphere be our new forests—concrete maps of lights against our skin.
Let that goddamn uncle be the murderer, that jealous girlfriend succeed on stealing the love interest, that killer be a two-year-old child who set a fire and somehow walked to survival. Because, guess what? I’m the goddamn author. Now screw to the side, and let me create a world this life never gave me.
J.K Rowling, watch your back; we’re driving a 2023, corona-infested Lamborghini behind you. Some of us crashed in resignation and surrender, but the rest of us were taught how to stand back up and run the hard way.Tweet
Now get your cars fixed and listen to what I have to say about starting your first novel.
#ONE—It’s Never Perfect At First Try
You heard me. Put your ego on the backseat, drink a cup of water, and wait until I’m done.
Nobody writes to achieve perfection at first try; this is nearly impossible for one to believe or attain. Writing is a journey (across the seven hells might I add). During the first ride, you sit at an office desk and ask your characters to take a seat, loves; I’m half sorry for damaging your brain cells and having you crawl through hell and back, but let me know you please—your back story, your future. Let me into your beliefs, your favorite color, and your life motto—everything from your physical description to your soft spots. I promise I won’t use it to break you even further (did I stutter?).
Slide a set of papers across the desk in front of them. Then, silently, see the choices they make, the wrong decisions they pick because you kept whispering in their ears sweetly, “pick this, you stupid fucker, we need drama”, the characters they would befriend as they go through ups and downs; then finally, the crisply different person they would become on your last page. Start a recording and record their developments to their surroundings—learn their environments alongside them and watch yourself build your own world, step by baby freaking step.
Then the second ride comes, and you ask your characters to sit, loves; I know you better now, and hell, you’re one disfigured piece of trash, so let me straighten you up from the start. I know what you would go through in the future, so I’ll let you savor the present and make my readers root for you. I know what you went through in the past, so let this contribute to how you act now. My grammar was shit and eye-torturous, so let me fix it. Besides, your dialogues didn’t sound like you at all; I’ll fix that too. Darn it, seems like I’m rewriting this whole sack of crap.
Then the third ride arrives with a cup of coffee awaiting on your desk, when you stare at your characters already seated and prepared, perfect and polished on your leather seats, smiles and smirks, warm eyes and cold ones waiting for the third journey—your own divine creations, but you ask them slowly to stand up this time, loves; I had always loved you, you will always be my children, but you’re getting sold on Amazon because I need money, and that’s a given. Expect new siblings in the coming years, yeah? Scram.
Now, was that easy? I guess. But was it perfect at the first try? Never. Use that office desk until it’s nothing but rubble at your feet (and cash of course). Now drive faster before I push you off the lane like those I had sent off to Lucifer.
“Work like there is someone working twenty four hours a day to take it away from you”—Mark Cuban
#TWO—Please, Your Grammar
If you’re still in the: he Tooked his Black book, smourght and then thinked he were gunna empress the reeders™, I’ll kindly have to ask you to reconsider your grammar first (that smourght was smirked, by the way). Please, if you’re not even ready to put this much effort into writing, spare yourself some time and us our eyes.
There’s no excuse to this. English not being your first language is not even one third of an acceptable excuse because it’s not mine or half of the population’s either, and you don’t see me putting your eyes in a torture chamber every chance I get. Now bear in mind that if you try to say otherwise, or things like, “Stop, Death. Some of us can’t get the resources you had,” I’ll personally sidetrack and push your car so far off the lane you’ll get free English classes from Satan in hell.
You are what you think. I’m not here asking you to go race with Shakespeare; I’m here asking you to get your basic grammar in line—grammar you can attain by taking courses, reading articles or books, listen to people speaking, or heck even teach yourself by this magnificent thing most of the human race lack we call brains. Don’t freaking pity yourself. Don’t make yourself believe that because you are supposedly any lower than somebody else, you get to have the lower treatment—you get to stay lower than them forever. Never. Don’t make me tattoo this word on your forehead.
Never. You can be just as your own definition of perfection as anybody else.
Believe it, and you’ll attract it.
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right”—Henry Ford
#THIRD—Your Cover Matters
I know, I know. We humans love to spew nonsense about not judging a book by its cover, but really, we lie; we are going to judge it by its cover whether you like it or not. So double the effort, okie? Extra fail if your summary didn’t manage to hook us after that first impression.
Also, call us hypocrites for wanting books with nice covers so we could put them on a shelf we haven’t dusted in twenty six years and now has desert snakes and sandstorms in them. That’s us, humans, for you.Tweet
#FOUR—Criticism Doesn’t Belong In The Trash
No, keep your ego in the backseat; I’m not done yet.
I’ll have to assume that each one of us had their hearts burnt to crisp, bloodied ashes at some point in the past. Whether it was because of that one genuine reader who kindly told us that our characters are flatter than the floor and have a set of emotions only absolute flat cardboards would have (god have mercy on me for all the books I read where the guys only knew how to smirk even when they’re taking a shit, constipated), or to that brutal reader who bashed us straight to the face about how their three-year-old kid could already use the spoon and do better English than us, and how our writing sucked, as flat as four walls and three rooms, shittier than the sewers, and maybe we should quit writing because said reader screen capped one of our pages and spread it on social media, but wew, thank fuck that was a pen name. I’m wiping the sweat off my forehead. *Proceeds to create the twentieth pen name*
But does this mean we should attack them back? Possibly, yes. Actually, and this is even better, hit me up if they’re being this rude and insensitive; I’ll help you with turning them missing. One of my sweet, sweet readers has this basement where they lock up scumtards there. I can still hear my villains screaming as I type this. But does this also mean we can’t secretly take their bashing into consideration after we walk away from this crime? Answer is, we can, and we should (we should take the advice, not commit the crime).
Now when they say the customer is always right, it goes for the readers too. It’s not your duty to be a people’s pleaser; you’d no doubt fail this way, but it is your task to recognize good advice from bad. If you couldn’t handle the fact that your two-worth readers are trying to help you with creating something better, then you don’t seem ready to have your books judged my million others when you lastly decide to get published.
We all should learn. The knowledge you have is not the same as the knowledge the people in my basement have. However—and yes, pay extra attention to this; always filter out good advice from bad. Never follow things blindly, you’ll get led astray.
We always write to please ourselves, not anybody else, but what’s the harm in learning stuff that could help you share the love for your fictional, tortured kids. Now, the comments and criticism you should be extra attentive toward will revolve around grammar or spelling mistakes (unless they were broken on purpose to deliver a specific punch. I’ll have a post for this not far in the future). Grammar and spelling mistakes, including wrong use of punctuation and dialogue formatting is not something we could forgive you for. This is basic shit. Please. Learn them from roots to suns. Start easy, as you go on, you’ll learn more.
On the other hand, the comments we could either neglect or choose to benefit from would sound like, “this is confusing” and “I didn’t understand what is going on”. Now, ask yourself, was it your aim for the readers to understand this specific thing at that time, would it be counted as a failure if they did not? Or were you one genius smart ass who made it confusing on purpose for the mere pleasure of seeing the readers go, “ah, darn biscuits. How did I miss it?” when you finally clarify your one hell of a spider web plot?
Comments that criticize your writing style or tone should have zero places in your concern capacity. That is, unless you decide that, true, this narration is too bubbly and sarcastic for my focused, no-bullshit detective, which still doesn’t fully convince me. Everybody is a lil’ different both in the inside and the outside, amirite? (take me for an instance. I sound like a professional, respectful, no-swearing person in my posts, right? But little do you know I take pleasure in kicking heads for fun. Lmfao. Kidding. I promise.)
Either way, don’t be a stubborn darned sloth. If you know you’re at fault, thank your readers for helping you. If you know you’re at fault but the helper was rude and heckly senseless, leave me a request; I’ll deal with the rest. All you gotta do is bail me out then have fun filtering the comments (or reviews) one by one. Study them closely and carefully; only you know what could help you and what couldn’t.
Never, then never take criticism as a sign of complete failure. It is not. Don’t toss your work in the trash because someone asked you to. Toss them (the people) in the trash, then screw off and think of ways to better your writing. We all are in this together. We are here to help one another—strive, then flourish; it isn’t your fault somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed and is now taking their frustration out on you. Don’t let this be the reason you denied the world access to a universe you could have crafted a thousand times better than anybody else.
“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it”—Ben Camerota
If you believe it was worth staying, and your fingers still ached from all the typing and writing—if you have black circles from all the times you had sacrificed your nights to the demon llamas just to lay some sweet part of your life on papers, then it is worth staying.
It is a thousand more times worth staying than you think.
Loving your creation would be your first step. Learning is the second. Giving up would send you meeting my villains in the basement.
So scram now. Drink water, re-own your ego, then go do something impossible today—something you had always been scared of doing.
“When someone says you can’t do it, do it twice and take pictures”—Unknown