Writing Tips


On a hot Saturday in August 1995, I sat down at my desk (in my living room) in front of an old word processor (that only saved 3 pages at a time) and began to write the manuscript that would be sold a year later as MEG; A Novel of Deep Terror. I had no prior writing experience, save for a masters thesis and dissertation, and no clue or contacts to help me get published, but I had two things going for me:

1. I knew how to set goals.
2. I refused to quit.

If you have these qualities, then the rest will come to you. Writing, like most skills, gets better the more you do it. I have found this true with my own writing. I am still learning and proud to admit it, for when the learning process stops, the dying begins.

Persist. Along the line you will find the help you need. Remember, what goes around comes around, so give back if you want to receive. Luck is a residue of hard work, but no matter what your chosen endeavor, no one is truly successful without the help of others. Pray, toil, but keep the faith and keep working at it, and good things will happen, often when you least expect it.

And so, for all of you who aspire to write and be published, or just be successful in your chosen endeavor, I humbly offer you these tips and links to others that helped launch my career. I hope they do the same for you.

--Steve Alten


STEP 1 : What should you write about?

One of the most asked questions I get as an author is: "Where did you come up with your ideas?"

Ideas are inspired by experiences, the things we read, the programs, videos, and movies we watch, the music we listen to, a conversation, a dream,
and everything in between. To be an author, you need to think like an author, and
authors think about stories all the time. That means keeping your mind set to WRITING MODE.

I always keep paper, pen, and flashlight near my bed so that if
I wake up from a dream (or nightmare) I can sketch out a quick note before I drift back
into the zzzzz's. Don't expect to remember the dream in the morning, it never happens UNLESS YOU WRITE IT DOWN!

I also keep pen and pad in the car. Long drives are great for letting your mind wander, just don't wander off the freeway.

I read the newspaper everyday. Watch Discovery Channel and TLC. All of these things can lend details to the novel I am currently writing.

Concepts also come in the form of WHAT IF? Take the DOMAIN trilogy. The first book, Domain, began with: What of the asteroid strike 65 million years ago wasn't really an asteroid? As I researched this WHAT OF, I came upon the Yucatan Peninsula, the Maya, and the Mayan Calendar and its doomsday prophecy. From that tiny thought began a trilogy.

Now you are ready for Step 2: Research Next>