So you wanna be a writer? A fiction writer? Sweet! Welcome to the club! What's your style, kid? Do you want to write horror stories? Science fiction? Chick lit? Romance? Contemporary fiction? Or maybe some unique combination of all of those animals? No matter what type of fictional tales you want to weave, there a few basics to keep in mind to help you keep your creative streak, morale, and sanity intact – and hopefully give you a leg up on success (however you may define it).
Find the Truth in Your Characters
Even the most fictional of characters is anchored by a small grain of truth. You know that disclaimer in fine print in nearly every fiction novel? The one that says that all characters in the novel are complete products of the author's imagination and any resemblance to folks living or dead is a coincidence? It's a hot load of monkey crap. Many famous authors -- from Charles Dickens to Charles Bukowski -- have drawn upon their personal lives to create vivid and memorable characters.
Your novel doesn't have to include thinly veiled facsimiles of your Great Aunt Matilda and your rotten next door neighbor, but perhaps you can pull attributes of these people into fictional creations. Maybe your Great Aunt Matilda likes to bake apple pies for every neighbor on the block, even the rotten one. You could recycle your Great Aunt's trait of generosity and kindness to create an elderly vampire who shares her stock of hospital-procured blood with other younger vampires in her vicinity, even the former vampire hunter-turned-vampire himself who once tried to kill her. There's always a way to twist the truth into a glorious tableau of fiction.
Get Ruthless With Your Red Pen
More is not always better. Your typical George R.R. Martin or Stephen King novel may lapse into 200,000-word territory, but as a first time novelist, yours shouldn't. If you're planning on pitching your novel to an agent or publisher, the maximum word count that most will consider is between 80,000 and 100,000 words. Typically, many agents and professionals in the publishing industry see an uber-high word count as the mark of an amateur who hasn't learned to edit themselves and whose story may tend to meander. This isn't always the case. Maybe you truly are writing an epic. And that's cool. Don't stifle your imagination. Instead, perhaps pitch part of your epic as part of a longer series.
However, don't hesitate to read through your work once or twice to check it over for redundancies, plot holes, or non-essential parts of the story that bog your novel down. Take a 3- to 6-month break from your work once it's been completed before you start hacking away at it with your red pen. This way, you're not as emotionally attached to any words you may have recently written. Every writer has those warm n' fuzzy feelings of "OMG! That's, like, the best sentence EVER!" Taking a little time away from your work may help you to remove the rose-tinted glasses and better streamline your story into something that really reels your readers in and gives your finished work a great sense of pacing.
Remember Your Gift
If you have a story inside you just begging to be unleashed upon the world, there's nothing more rewarding than being a fiction writer. In doing so, you become part of a long, ancient line of storytellers who brought people together – around a campfire or a computer screen – to unite them with the gift of imagination. Stories have the power to touch people and make them not only feel, but understand those feelings because they see a little bit of themselves in those characters you've created. Stories give readers hope that maybe they, too, can be capable of doing great deeds like the characters in that tale they're wrapped up in reading at that moment.
And you, as the writer, know that you've helped give them that gift. That's a pretty good feeling to have at the very end of the story, don't you think?
Now stop wasting time and start writing!
Lana Cooper was born and raised in Scranton, PA and currently resides in Philadelphia. A graduate of Temple University, she doesn't usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio. Cooper has written extensively on a variety of pop culture topics and has been a critic for such sites as PopMatters and Ghouls On Film. She's also written news stories for EDGE Media, a leading nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. Cooper enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, books with lots of words and no pictures, and avoiding eye-contact with strangers on public transportation. "Bad Taste In Men" is her first full-length novel.
Her latest book is the humorous nonfiction, Bad Taste in Men.
For More Information
• Visit Lana Cooper’s website.
• Connect with Lana on Facebook and Twitter.
• Visit Lana’s blog.
• More books by Lana Cooper.
• Contact Lana.
Bad Taste in Men
Publisher: Delightfully Dysfunctional Books
Genre: Humorous Nonfiction
About the book
Have you ever felt like even Mother Theresa has got more game than you?
If you have, you'd be in the same boat as geeky, awkward metalhead Nova Porter.
Bad Taste In Men follows Nova from her prepubescent years through young adulthood and her attempts at getting dudes to dig her.
Juggling self-esteem issues, small town outsider status, and questionable taste in guys, Nova is looking for love in all the wrong places - like the food court at the mall. Nova's circle of friends and her strange(ly) endearing family more than make up for what her love life lacks.
Along the way, Nova alternately plays the roles of hero and villain, mastermind and stooge; picking up far more valuable life lessons than numbers for her little black book.
One part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-'90s, Bad Taste In Men is loaded (like a freight train) with pop cultural references and crude humor.
From getting laughed at by your crush to being stood up (twice!) by a guy with one eye, Bad Taste In Men showcases the humor and humiliation that accompanies the search for love (or at least "like") as a small-town teenage outcast, managing to wring heart-warming sweetness from angsty adolescent memories - and jokes about barf and poop.
For More Information
• Bad Taste in Men is available at Amazon.
• Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.