Write The Books You Want To Read

Ernest Hemmingway once said that all you have to do is write one true sentence, the truest sentence that you know. Just one. Then another. Then another.

Writing a book, a novel, a screenplay seems Herculean even by modest standards. How the *bleep* am I supposed to create a work of art that spans centuries, and weaves compelling characters into wicked plot lines? I am constantly in awe of the beings that can create the stories I love.

I’m not just talking about bestsellers. There are just as many breathtaking and unimaginable stories that are beloved by a select few.  Sometimes it’s just poor marketing. Other times it’s a cultural barrier (a lot of people have issues with subtitles apparently) or prejudice on the part of those who have already decided what they will like, and so censor themselves from worlds they could never have imagined.

 

Art is a subjective lover; you like what you like.

 

You can write whatever you want, and keep writing until it has some sort of recognizable shape.  Then seduce a couple of publishers, get it edited and mould it even more. Presto. Your baby book is now on bookshelves and e-Stores. (I am mortally trivializing this entire process but you get the thrust of it.)

 

So what do you want to write about?

 

It all goes back to what you like to read. Go beyond the genres and list the sort of things you’d love to see in a story.  I like it when the main character is flawed and human, when plot devices don’t gang up on the villain or paint him as irretrievably bad or evil. I like an adventure. Let’s go someplace and do something extra ordinary. Let’s find a secret path through that cave behind the waterfall and enter another world. Can we have some pet wolves or a mammoth? It’s always fun when pets have the power to kill you but they don’t. (We’re getting a mammoth). There’s conflict. Some ancient order from a forgotten society is coming back. They want to destroy our world but nobody believes what you saw. You’re just an insignificant underdog from the wrong side of town. Little do they know that you’re of elven pure-blood. Or the bastard son of the true king. Or the last descendent of a rare line of old magic. Let’s get this straight. You have potential but right now you suck a$$. You’ll need the help of a band of misfits. A swordsman wielding three-swords, perhaps. A thief. A mechanic who can fix anything. A clever dwarf. A gifted surgeon. A map maker. Even so the journey will be perilous and character-defining, and a terrible war will be waged.

 

These are the sorts of stories I’m going to write. What about you?

 

Write the books you want to read. Make the movies you want to see. Design the clothes you want to wear. Do what you love and you will find your own clan, your own band of misfits.

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