I believe I mentioned in the last post that Terry Brooks is my writing hero. Lately, I have been reading his Sometimes the Magic Works, a book on the writing and publishing process. He is a prolific writer, and his Sword of Shannara is one of my favorite fantasy epics. Usually fantasy lovers compare each epic story to Lord of the Rings, but for me, The Sword of Shannara is the benchmark against which I judge my own books.
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were my introduction to the world of fantasy but it was The Sword of Shannara that made me wish I could write epic fantasy stories.
Here are some lessons I have learnt from his writing career.
1) Write from the heart, regardless of whether the genre is popular at the moment. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of writing a story simply because you think, and people say, there is no market for it. Writing should always be done with passion and commitment, regardless of the marketing aspects.
2) Within your genre, don’t hesitate to experiment with different sub-genres. He wrote high fantasy, dark fantasy and also urban fantasy.
3) Do write in other genres. Terry Brooks has done two movie adaptations; one of them was Star Wars, a science fiction story.
4) Don’t take your writing career for granted. Be on the lookout for opportunities that will give you greater exposure and new readers. Even if you are successful writer, you will always have the potential to become more successful.
5) Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge with new writers. Although it’s an imposition on your writing time, it will help you clarify your own thought process and it’s important to give back to the writing community.
If you have not read his Sometimes the Magic works, you should. It’s a great resource for writers, new and old.
Sometimes the Magic Works – by Terry Brooks
I have a cardinal rule, and that’s to write my blog posts on Wednesday and Friday. But here I am…one day late. This will have to be a Thursday post. And I blame this delay on Terry Brooks. Yes, Terry Brooks, the famous and successful fantasy writer, my writing hero…who wrote Sometimes the Magic Works, a non-fiction book on writing and publishing.
Let me tell you, I debated whether to buy the book on not for a week. The e-book price was 11.99 dollars. I mean, that’s not a small amount for a 282 page book. Finally, I gave in to the temptation and bought it. The book is amazing, and well worth the price. People rave about Stephen King’s On Writing but I tell you…Sometimes the Magic Works is a better book to read if you want to learn about the writing and publishing process.
Forget all the writing and publishing blogs (but not mine, please) and get this book. Although fantasy writers might relate to it a bit, the book’s written for a new writer of any genre. Terry has given practical advice on a lot of aspects of writing such as having a good beginning and end, outlines, show versus tell, and so much more. You may be thinking, what’s new about that? Well, the way he has explained it all is so simple and easy to understand that it’s worth your time to read it if you are serious about writing as a career.
There is a lot more practical information about the business of publishing, such as, the job of the first time writer is to write the second book and how book signings are meant for making connections with the readers and not for selling books. So many of his own mistakes have been analyzed for public consumption.
I have always believed that it’s not possible to learn everything by making your own mistakes. In order to save time, we must be ready to learn from other people’s mistakes. It’s a rare writer who will lay bare his own disappointments for others to learn from – and Thank you Terry for that!
I could go on and on about Terry Brooks and Sometimes the Magic Works but it’s time to let you think about whether you want to buy it yourself. I still have fifty more pages to finish and am going to find a nice quiet corner in the house to do so.
Sabine A. Reed’s is the fantasy author of The Black Orb, which can be bought here.