Five Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started To Write (Crime) Fiction

By Tony Knighton

1. You don’t need to ask permission.

I’ve always been a reader. I thought about writing something of my own, most often while reading stories or books that were poorly written, but for decades I didn’t. Once I got around to it, I realized I’d been waiting for someone or something to tell me that I was allowed to try. I didn’t need to wait.

2. Writing is hard.

A piece of published writing is one-way communication – the reader can’t ask follow-up questions. You have to do more than come up with a cool story and put it on paper. Good writing will make that story just as clear and fun for the reader as it is for the writer. The fun will be missing if the writing is weak.

3. Don’t worry if it’s bad at first.

Like any other activity worth pursuing, writing is a skill that needs to be developed. It takes practice. When we start, we may know what it is we want to achieve, but our skills aren’t up to it, yet. You should keep going – keep reading, keep writing. Revise. Don’t be discouraged. Find people nearby who write and talk to them about it. Read their stuff. When you’re ready, ask them to look at yours. Keep writing. Revise. Take some courses. Get into a writer’s group. Keep writing. Revise. Your stuff will get better.

4. Nobody will care.

All right, that’s overly harsh. Your real friends will care and be supportive, and other friends and family will be nice. Beyond them, nobody will care; they didn’t ask you to do this. Especially editors. They slog through never-ending piles of slush they didn’t ask anyone to write. Nobody cares. But this is a good thing. You’re doing this for yourself so you can write whatever you want to. As your writing improves, editors will begin to write short notes of encouragement in the margins of their form rejection letters. Eventually, one of them will publish you.

5. There’s something cool about it.

I heard someone compare writing a novel to swimming the channel or climbing Everest. The big difference is that channel swimmers and veterans of the North Slope rarely want to do it again right away. Most writers can’t wait.

That’s my two-cents worth. Thanks. Keep writing.

© 2017, Tony Knighton. All rights reserved.

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