Learning From Other Writers

We’re supposed to be writing about our favorite craft writing books, blogs or podcasts. The truth is, I’ve never read a craft writing book (gasp!). I didn’t even know what a podcast was until last year. And while I love reading blogs, the only blog that I learned from was actually this one, The Debutante Ball (which is why I applied to be a Deb for this year, since I wanted to pay it forward).

I also don’t have an MFA and have never taken a writing course, except what was necessary for school. I have no writing credentials, have never worked as a writer in any capacity and basically have no writing experience. So how the heck did I get a book deal with a Big 5?

The answer is, I read A LOT. I read everything – every genre, anything that catches my attention. And when I finally sat down to write a book, it was other writers at critique groups that I learned from, as well as studying the structure of my favorite authors. I literally deconstructed my favorite books to see how the author plotted it out, where the twists came in, the climax and ending. I outlined entire books. Then I did it with more books. I studied them like a scientist doing an experiment, seeing how authors use words to describe actions, so that my characters weren’t always shrugging and rolling their eyes.

One of the queens of writing a character’s actions, in my opinion, is Nora Roberts. She is such a descriptive writer that she draws you into the world of her books. You feel like you are right there with the characters and can see the setting and expressions. I literally analyzed her books to see how she does it, noting the use of writing action to make us feel like we can see exactly how the characters are acting, to how she plots out her story so that it keeps us reading to find out more. Her pacing is impeccable and each book is so well drawn out. Which is why she is a best-selling novelist.

And I did this with other books that I loved, not just Nora Roberts’ books. When I can’t stop thinking about a book, I analyze it to see why. And by doing this, I learned how to pace a book, how to insert twists without giving too much away too soon, and where to put the climax so that it has maximum impact.

I am still learning every day. I learn from my agent and my editor. I learn from my critique partners who give me their insights. And I learn from others on the internet. So yes, I have no formal training as a writer, but I taught myself. And I have other writers and published authors I admire to thank for my writing career.