Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Next Great American Novel…

By Shelby Patrick

It’s a gross misconception that writing is easy. Those of us that have never spent hours sitting before a computer trying to come up with a few sentences think there’s nothing to it, and everyone wants to write The Great American Novel some day. If you can, do it; however, it won’t come fast or easy.

One of the best quotes that sum up the writing life comes from Red Smith: “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” How true, indeed!

Just as with professional jobs such as doctors, lawyers, plumbers, etc., you need training to become a highly skilled writer. It begins with learning the language. You should have a strong grasp of the English language, or whatever language you intend to write your novel in. We have all seen terrible books in which the speaker’s voice was butchered due to poor grammar, spelling mistakes, easy-to-fix typos, and more. An editor is great at helping you to fix some of these problems, but if you never excelled in your studies, it would be a disaster. Why not just hire someone to ghostwrite your novel then?

Okay, so let’s say you’re a genius with English, where does that leave you next? Study writing. Read a lot, especially the genre you want to write in. Learn the proper formats and story lengths. Got that mastered? Then you’re one step ahead of the game. Congratulations, you’re on the road to becoming a writer.

The next thing for you to do is look at and compare the markets. Find the best match for you. Learn how to pitch to those markets. Do your research. You should know what types of submissions a publisher/agent is looking for. Don’t send something off to a generic editor. Find out a particular editor’s name and never attempt to bribe someone to look at your manuscript. If you can write an eye-catching opening along with a really good letter, then it should be a cinch to close the deal. But be prepared for rejections. A big part of writing is growing a backbone. Don’t take rejections personally. It’s a part of the procedure. Go with the flow.

But it all comes down to this. For many, it takes years to learn a trade. It should take time to become a writer. No one can sit down and write a great novel overnight and to think you can is a bit ludicrous. Research, study, and learn before you even think of starting to write. Then you will find out that writing isn’t for the faint of heart.

Good luck!


Shelby has self-published two creative writing exercise books, Dark Recesses of the Mind and Forbidden Knowledge, a short horror and science fiction collection entitled The Fear Within, and a supernatural thriller, When Angels Sing.

By Shelby Patrick WHEN ANGELS SING came out in December 2010. The main male character, Blaze Kerrigan, is a typical young guy (with sex on the mind most days), but with one peculiar problem – he has a psychic link to a serial killer. So when Jenna Michaels shows up at his door unannounced and bears an uncanny resemblance to his dead fiancée, it’s Blaze’s job to keep her safe, especially when the body count starts to rise.

To see the trailer for WHEN ANGELS SING, please visit:


  1. Shelby:

    Terrific post and so very true. Your book cover is quite haunting and story pulls me in.

    Best wishes for your continued success,

  2. Thanks, Robert, for hosting me today. Hey Donna, I actually did the photo shoot for the cover myself, using my two nieces as the models. It was a lot of fun. :-)


  3. You're welcome.

    I agree with Donna, Shelby.

    Your article is masterful and full of great points about writing.


  4. Informative article, Shelby. I agree, it really is important for those thinking of entering the world of writing to realize there is work involved in learning the craft.

    And, I'm impressed that you did your own cover! It's great.

  5. I thought of doing my own cover, then after failing, I hired a professional. Yours looks great! And your books sounds awesome. Best wishes for your success!

  6. I totally agree Shelby that no one can write a great (American or otherwise!) novel overnight. Amazing how many people seem to think it's as easy as wanting to do it.

  7. You had me at the first sentence! Great insight Shelby.

  8. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. There's soooo much to learn with writing. I think people should write as they learn, but shouldn't expect to be published until they perfect their craft.

    I love the plot of your story. Very interesting!

  9. Shelby, terrific cover -- I'm a huge cover person. That's often the reason I pick up a book to check out.

  10. Anyone who says writing (and publishing) is easy has never tried it! Very good post.