Writing a Good Book

Anyone can write a book, and with the advent of print-on-demand publishing, anyone can publish a book. But not everyone can write and publish a good book, because it takes more than being able to navigate a keyboard to become a good writer.

Aids to becoming a good writer:

• Strunk & White’s the Elements of Style. A classic reference book on grammar and composition. Only 43 pages long.

• On Writing, by Stephen King. King’s book delves into the basic building blocks of writing a book, including vocabulary, grammar, the sentence, and the paragraph.

• The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters, 3rd Edition, by Christopher Vogler. This is a book that explores the hero’s journey and each step he must go through to reach the elixir, a metaphor for what the hero brings back from his journey. The most basic hero’s journey is illustrated by the first Star Wars movie. Luke begins in the original world, receives the call to adventure, refuses the call, meets the mentor, answers the call and goes forward into the adventure.

• Myth and the Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure of 50 Unforgettable Movies, by Stuart Voytilla. This is a fun way to understand the hero’s journey by examining familiar movies. You’ll never watch movies the same way again.

• Read, read, read. Especially read books in the genre you write in. If your book is science fiction, read Jules Verne and contemporary writers, too. If you write mysteries, read them. If you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have time to write, either.

If you don’t want to educate yourself, and you’d rather just “pound this sucker out.” That’s fine. You can find someone to pay to publish it for you. Put a copy in your bookcase and tell your friends you’re a published writer. The thing is, though, there isn’t a market for bad books. Nobody wants to read them and they certainly don’t buy them.

If you want to be a good writer who produces books that people enjoy reading and buying, do the work. Figure it out. Get the help you need. Be relentless and you will be successful.

Patricia Childers is an Editorial Development Editor at Foggy Bottom Books. She can be reached at pat@foggybottombooks.com.

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