My favorite fantasy books are the ones with the best worldbuilding. Give me a rich world with complex cultures, lots of terrain to explore, ecology that makes sense, and a magic system that’s more well thought out than “I used my feelings/willpower/the goodness of my heart” and I will buy your books like crack. IF (and here’s the big if) your worldbuilding is presented effectively as an integral part of your story. That’s where I see a lot of fantasy writers get hung up. I’ve been writing fantasy for about 30 years now, and while I’m not a household name, I’ve learned a thing or two about effective worldbuilding.
Afraid that cat-aliens will take over their computer in the middle of the night and write a better book than they could. (Okay, no. I made that one up.)
I wrote my first book when I was 12. It sucked. Started my second one when I was sixteen and it took forever to finish. In between starting and finishing the second, there have been 9 others. Each one is a learning experience. Each one is flawed, but they’re each progressively better than the one before. At any point along this writing journey, I could have given up. Decided that my books just weren’t “good enough,” or that I didn’t have what it took to be an author. I didn’t, because writing is a skill. It’s not magic. You learn to write by writing. You get better by taking the risk to do the thing as best you can, and then learning from your mistakes.
I’ve been writing for close to 30 years now. Reading for longer than that. Every time I’ve seen what I thought was a unique premise (an “original” story idea) I later found out that it had been influenced and inspired by other stories. It doesn’t matter if your idea is “original.” What matters is that you take the risk to write it from a place within yourself that no one else can reach. Then, the experience of your book will be unique.
Some people are not going to like your work. That’s the way it goes when you do art. But other people will, and some of them need your work. It’s on you, writer, to take the risk involved in finding them.
And don’t let the cat-aliens surf Youtube all night.
Writer’s block happens for a bunch of reasons. One of the most common is fear. Self-doubt is a normal part of the writing process, but without the right tools to deal with that, it can be paralyzing. You might feel like there are so many choices and things to do that you get overwhelmed. What if you make the wrong choice? What if you waste all your time working on this one thing but you really should be working on something else? Pretty soon, you don’t do anything. You tell yourself you should be writing, and then you feel guilty, so it’s even harder to get past the block.
The example links in this post are down right now. Working on getting them back up ASAP, sorry!
One of the biggest struggles I faced as a new writer was the type of writer’s block that develops when my ideas stopped just flowing. I’d be going along fine, and then all of a sudden my plan wasn’t working or I couldn’t figure out what should come next. I’d get frustrated. I’d spend a lot of time staring at the screen, and pretty soon you aren’t writing at all. The most frequent advice I hear about writer’s block is, “Just keep writing through it.” I hate that, because the whole problem with this type of writer’s block is that I don’t know what to write. For some people, it’s possible to just write nonsense long enough that you’ll break through, but that rarely works for me. I’ve developed a way to write around my block instead of trying to write through it.
If you feel like you’re getting lost or stuck, try this:
Fantasy author Holly Lisle has written a long, long list of novels since Fire In the Mist debuted in 1991. I’ve been reading her blog and writing workshops since the early 2000‘s. I own all of her writing craft books, and she has taught me more about how to craft a book series than any other person or resource.
If I can’t find the answer I’m looking for on Write on Sisters or Holly Lisle’s website, I visit Fiction University, run by Janice Hardy. There’s such a wealth of information on this site that I can spend days here.
Kristen Lamb’s blogis your example of how to build rapport with readers. I read her blog every week. I love her blog. I do not miss her blog posts because she is my kind of person.
Kait Nolan’s Pots and Plotsis a great example of how to run an author site that isn’t boring or just focused on writing craft. It’s also gorgeous, and I like gorgeous things.
Infinitefreetimeis your example of how to do an author blog that sells books. Why do I say that? Because I own all of Luther’s books. Why do I own them? Because I liked his blog posts, so I bought one. (Actually I may have downloaded it for free. I don’t remember. Anyway. It’s on my top 5 list of favorite books in whatever year I read it.) And now I own all of them.
I’m participating in several blog challenges and activities this month.
This post is for Blogher’s Writing Lab, #Postaday and Zero to Hero on WordPress, and BloggingFreedom.org’s 30 Day Challenge.
Today’s Zero To Hero assignment is to use the WordPress reader to find new blogs. I hate that! And I will share alternate ways to find new blogs in another post.