Articles

How to write an award-winning bestselling first novel | Nathan Filer | [email protected]



Translator: Linh Tran
Reviewer: Holy Song On a rainy spring day in 2009, I shuffled into a lecture theatre, at the University of Bristol and listened to a presentation titled "Evidence-based Approaches to
Positive Psychology" I was deeply, deeply miserable. Depression, ironically, was my
bread and butter at this time I've spent the last 3 years of my life surrounded by filing cabinets
in a cramped office. Well, I helped to administer
large-scaled trials, comparing the effective talking therapies, looking at side effects of
anti depression, that sort of things. And it was good, and it was important work The problem… I wasn't any good at it. My aptitude for statistics was woeful, I was slow with databases and spreadsheets I'm not especially imaginative
with powerpoint as… It will become evident. I needed a friend,
even, to help me with this My heart was elsewhere, locked away in my drawer at home
with the first 20 pages of a novel which I've been meaning to write for years only "where was the time?" Then slumped to my desk on that
rainy spring day an email arrived reminding us that
everyone was welcome to attend the lunch time lecture. I read the title again. "Evidence-based Approaches to
Positive Psychology" These things tend to suffer from a lofty
verbosity, translate, "How to be happy". I grabbed my coat. The notes I made during that lecture
remained pinned to the corkboard which this represents, above my writing desk five years
and one novel later. They contain no insights in how to shape
a compelling plot, there's nothing on writing convincing
dialogues or characterization, there are no well-worn wisdom on the
importance of cutting adverbs Though you should, should cut your adverbs But writing a novel demands far more
than the words replaced on the page So today, I present to you How to write an award-winning
bestselling first novel Or at the very least, to be happier
whilst trying This is the seven-step guide.
It's guaranteed to work. Step 1: Have specific goals. The operative word is "specific". My pile of pages hidden away at my desk, my intentions to be a writer one day,
it was a start but it was too vague. It didn't bother me that I would put
my manuscript aside for a week, a month, six months at a time. And why should it?
I'll get there eventually. The problem, well,
our goals aren't specific It's that it's all too easy to
convince ourselves that we're getting there, when actually,
we're not. Then at the other end of the journey, it can be difficult to truly savour the attainment of your defined goals because it's not so clear when we've
avhieved them. So here is what I did. I replaced "I want to be a writer", something I'm still not actually sure
I've achieved, with "I will write something today". That's pretty specific, yeah? On the first day,
in the frenzy of positivity, I wrote a page. The next day, I deleted that page. But I also wrote a paragraph. That paragraph (?) At the end of the first week, I had written 2 thousand words
that would never make it into my novel. But I'd also written what would become
the first line. It was there, waiting. Step 2: Make sure your goals
are achievable As my novel progressed, as I knew
with great certainty my central character and how the story
would unfold, I set myself tougher goals. "Today, I will fix that irksome issue
with the chronology", "This week, I'll finish chapter four", "Next week, I will send off some parts of
my writing to literary agents.", etc.

33
Comments
  • Wow. This isn't just writing advice-this is life advice. You could apply this to literally ANYTHING-a fad diet, a workout, a job, anything at all. A pity I only have one like to give. Oh well-maybe I can make a bunch of spam accounts and inundate this with likes XD.

    Seriously though, two thumbs up. And I need to read this man's book sometime! Great job, Mr. filer!

  • I wish some of these guys would do free online creative writing classes. That's what I need. I've always been great at essays and such, but taking on a novel is a whole new beast to conquer. I have great ideas, but I just need to hone my craft.. find my "voice" I guess you could say.
    Should i write from the POV of the main protagonist, someone close to them, or some unnamed storyteller? These things are important in any great story. I'm ok at writing a beginning and ending, but the middle and the building up to the ending is where I struggle.

  • Kinda sad, the way he said talking worm with contempt shows he didn't believe in his own idea. Guess which book had a talking worm, Alice in Wonderland and that was a hit.

  • What I'm really tired of hearing is how to market your book, how to write it so that it'll sell, how to handle rejection from publishers. If you want to write something meaningful, don't let your writing become poisoned by money. Just write the damn book. If nobody buys it, it's not a failure, any good writing has value of its own. It's only a failure if nobody else wants to read it, maybe.

  • "…Fiction Writing is a very noble occupation. But do it alone, and make sure you wash your hands afterwards!…" -Robert A. Heinlein

  • J. K. Rowling got rejected countless times before she got published.

    She had a hard life and a busy schedule.

    Now she is one of the most successful authors in the world.

    Never give up.

  • JK Rowling couldn't get published at first either – she was denied 12 times. Now look at the Harry Potter fanbase…it's huge, and even years after the final book is written and even the movies were done Harry Potter merchandise is still popular.

  • Nathan, you are a jewel and a sweetheart- all my best to you in 2019. Now, I’m going to go look up your book.

  • Write well. Take droplets of ideas from a few thousand cups and make it less than 1% of what you structure. I was over the moon with a publisher contacting me but I'm yet to see anyone making more money from actually writing than using youtube or social media to tell everyone how to write. I matched a years worth of my salary on the book in the first year sales, dream goal but that doesn't mean much considering pouring time into it, if money is your thing. One year writing set back three years careerwise even after doubling a years salary. Write well. Enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *