When I decided to get serious about turning my ideas into a real set of novels, I knew I had a lot to learn. I bought some books, which books don’t really matter as there are dozens of books about how to write good fiction. I read a lot of articles written by other authors on how to use social media and better ways to write; again which precise authors I read doesn’t matter. I spent hours working on some plot graphs that were recommended, filling out character sheets provided by another author, and answering a lot of questions about the book which were supposed to help me create a sellable book.
Did any of that help? Yes, it all helped, and no, none of it helped. You see, I already knew how to recognize the shadows. As such, I was able to experiment and determine what worked well for me.
Naturally, there are a few best-practices which are the foundation for everyone. Those are pretty simple: don’t tell the story – show it; only have enough detail to create the scenes; write the books you want to read; find good editors who understand your genre and use them often; don’t skimp on the details; and if you work hard enough, most items, such as cover design, book formatting, and other high labor items, can be done with sweat or dollars.
The important thing I found was that like everything else in life, just because something worked perfectly for one person does not mean that it will do the same thing for anyone else. Many years ago, in school, I learned that more than a few developing countries tried to repeat the creation of the United States. They adopted the exact same constitution and bill of rights, they modeled their government after the initial US government. Guess what; not a single one succeeded. The best guess on why it only worked once, is because the US constitution and bill of rights resonated just right with the culture and events of that time and place. In other words, it is a social experiment that cannot be repeated.
Now, you might begin to see what I’m suggesting. Go out and read everything you can until you feel you have an idea of what needs to be done. Then, make a plan that is entirely your own. Twist the ideas, tweak the templates, or create a whole new set of templates that are a blend of everything that resonated with you. Next, execute that plan. Finally, don’t be afraid to change your plan once you started, as you will learn things as you go. You need to observe what is happening, give things a reasonable time to cook to be sure you understand the trending, and decide on what to change before you change something. It is very important to only change one thing at a time, and to give it enough time so you can see the real results. You will, then, become your own authority on how to make yourself a successful author.
How do you determine what is good advice and what you should ignore? Here is where I will give you the name of a book. Why? Because it is a series of anecdotes set in ancient times that teach an important set of ideas. Ideas that will help you achieve your goals, if you take them in and use them to guide the formation of your planning and tactics. The name of this book is The Richest Man In Babylon.
Reading The Richest Man In Babylon was an eye opening experience for me. So much so, I buy that book ten copies at a time and hand them out to close friends when I feel they might need to see the shadows for what they are. More than 80% of the people I give that book to learn to recognize the shadows. Interestingly, when we compare notes, most people take slightly different ideas away. Yet still, they recognize the shadows. I’ll be out here in the sun to greet you when you step out of the cave.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry. Here is how to figure it out. First, search for the Allegory of the Cave and read it. Then, read The Richest Man In Babylon. You might ask what a book about financial success has to do with being a successful writer. After you have read these two items and still cannot answer that question, just send me an email or message on Facebook, and I’ll be happy to share. You might think I’m crazy, but I’ll say this, it worked for me.