Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Writing Fiction Isn't Rocket Science

By Mark W. Danielson

I just returned from another wonderful Men of Mystery event. For authors and attendees, this Irvine, California event is always fun, and as a general rule, is the only author event I attend. Here, two keynote speakers and nearly fifty mystery authors enjoy lunch with hundreds of avid mystery readers. Over the years, I have listened to many wonderful keynote speakers, but this year’s William Kent Krueger was particularly delightful. Perhaps it was because he and I share the same beliefs that writing should be fun, that it is nothing more than storytelling, that the motivation for writing should come from the joy of it, not for financial gain. And should financial success come your way, then congratulations, but don’t forget why you started writing. Kent is a very approachable and equally likeable gentleman whose genuine smile and easy manner certainly add to his success.

But not every author shares Kent’s jocular demeanor. Some want you to believe only a select few can create interesting stories. Honestly, anyone willing to put in long solitary hours and subject themselves to harsh criticism CAN write. But regardless of how much effort one puts in, professional writing does not come easy in this constantly evolving marketplace. While vampires may currently be in vogue, ten years from now these stories may not be marketable. If you want to be published, know the market before you begin the first chapter.

With my Gypsy lifestyle, flying to California to take part in Men of Mystery can be challenging, but it is worthwhile because I enjoy meeting people like Kent and reuniting friendships, and you can't put a price on that. Authors like Kent reaffirm that men (and women) authors who have achieved financial success and commercial notoriety still enjoy writing as much as they did when they first started. And while they take their craft seriously, they don’t view themselves that way. Folks, writing fiction isn’t rocket science, it’s just words, so keep your writing accomplishments in perspective and enjoy the ride. Doing so will ensure your characters have hearts as big as your own.


Jaden Terrell said...

Men of Mystery sounds like a wonderful event, Mark. William Kent Krueger is one of my favorite authors. His character, Cork O'Connor is complex and likeable, and his descriptions of the Minnesota wilds are absolutely stunning. His language is poetic but never obtrusive or overblown They are so beautiful I sometimes stop and reread them, thinking, "Yes, that's exactly how it is, but I never would have thought of it myself."

When Cork walks through the snow, you can almost feel the cold.

Mark W. Danielson said...

That's what made him such an excellent speaker. His enthusiasm for writing, and life in general, is equally inspirational.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I agree, Mark. Financial success has been rare in the publishing business although some ebook writers are claiming to be earning millions. As Julie Garwood recently said, it's a combination of "some marketing, some talent, and a great deal of luck." So, if you don't enjoy writing, don't waste your time grabbing for the brass ring.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I just received a bulletin from the Kindle Million Club, which announced that 12 authors have sold more than a million ebooks. According to the email, there are also a dozen more who have sold more than 200,000 books and 30 who have sold over 100,000. John Locke and Amanda Hocking have sold more than 2 million books, both self published.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Interesting numbers, Jean. My latest book is SUPPOSED to be available on Kindle from the publisher, but doesn't appear to be. Amazon offers to put it up for a 30% commission, which is worth considering. Then there is Smashwords, which offers a better deal. But the question remains, why hasn't the publisher gotten it up yet? Writing may not be rocket science, but understanding the book industry requires a doctorate in nonsense.