Well, the obvious answer is no. You can certainly write without reading a single word, but I don’t recommend it. There is something to be said about ‘research’ when you write. And no, I’m not talking about research into a topic you’re writing about. I’m talking about ‘research’ as in reading other authors and recognizing their differences in style, delivery, and voice.
If you’ve been writing for a while, then you probably have found your voice and your style. You’ve learned what works and what doesn’t in your writing. Is dialog a weakness or a strength? Are your characters well-rounded or flat? Does your setting add anything to what is happening? Our writing always gravitates toward our strengths.
Well, believe it or not, so does our reading.
Most writers read what they write. That might sound stupid but think about it. Romance novelists tend to read more romance than anything else. Horror writers read more horror than anything else. Why is that? It’s a level of comfort. We want to see how other people are doing it. How do they write their dialog and how do they describe certain aspects of the story. How do they paint the landscape in a way to draw us in from the first sentence?
It’s research people.
We are doing ‘research’ every time we pick up a book and read it. The beauty of it, at least for me, is I get to enjoy a new book at the same time I’m researching. I’m enjoying a new world and escaping with the author. The other bonus? When I read, it always inspires me to write. I get the itchy fingers, and the need to get some words down on paper is overpowering. So, while you might not need to read to write, it is strongly recommended. You might not even realize you’re doing it, but you are subconsciously taking notes on the author’s work. And when your fingers are flying across the keys, or madly scratching a pen across paper, or even banging it out on a dusty manual typewriter, those notes, those thoughts, those memories of what you’ve read will come to life. You can incorporate the things you liked about what you’ve read and avoid what you didn’t.
So, in short, while it’s not a requirement to read to write, it is highly recommended.
I think it’s time to do a little research, don’t you?
With books five and six due out in the next year, I thought it might be about time to see where Mad Maggie came from and where she might be going. She is definitely one my favorite characters to write. Headstrong and brimming with confidence on the outside, she’s just like the rest of us on the inside, nervous and unsure. She’s in constant turmoil over doing what’s right when the incredibly vivid world of the Stillwater Psychiatric Hospital comes to life around her. With friends and little brother in tow, Maggie stumbles upon one mystery after another.
Book five which is entitled ‘Mad Maggie Dupree and the Stillwater Rapids’ follows Maggie into the first days of middle school. Coming face to face with Darla Bigsby, she has to combat not only the bullies living next door but the mean queen of the cafeteria.
Let’s see what kind of trouble she’s been getting herself into up to this point.
Book 1 – Angry at having to leave her friends, baseball team, and everything she’d grown to love in her old neighborhood, Mad Maggie Dupree is anything but happy moving to the Stillwater Psychiatric Hospital grounds. Her family’s new home sits in the shadow of the patient dorms and the idea of crazy people living so close is disconcerting no matter what her father says.
Settling into her new home isn’t easy for the headstrong, slingshot-toting twelve year old girl. Her temper and stubbornness not only get her into trouble with the mean brothers living on one side of her but also with the nerdy boy desperate to be her friend living on the other.
She stumbles across something incredible left behind by the patients discharged from the hospital years ago things begin to spiral out of control. Uncovering a decades old secret proves terrifying, taking Maggie and her new friends on an incredible journey.
With the first book in his new series, award winning author, David J. Gibbs, takes the reader into the exciting world of Mad Maggie Dupree. The temperamental young girl leaves an indelible mark with every mistake, success, and struggle to find her place in the strange and wonderful world around her.
Book 2 – While exploring the skeletal remains of the ruined greenhouse, Mad Maggie catches a momentary glimpse of one of the enduring legends of Stillwater Psychiatric Hospital. Pale, dressed all in white, the wispy figure of a woman wanders the cemetery.
Delving into the heartbreaking story, Maggie discovers the lost journals of three women detailing terrible secrets and incredible loss. She has no choice but to seek out the truth, coming face to face with another horrifying legend lurking in the surrounding woods just beyond the hospital grounds.
A fast paced story for all ages and compulsively readable, Mad Maggie Dupree and The Wood Witch, the second book in the Mad Maggie Dupree series, is an emotional rollercoaster following the headstrong, slingshot toting, red head and her friends on another harrowing adventure.
Book 3 – Finding a decades-old newspaper article detailing a tragic bus fire, which killed four tuberculosis patients, Maggie is fascinated by the reported sounds of disembodied spirits lurking around the accident site.
Discovering the burned-out shell of the bus, in a forgotten corner of the woods, Maggie discovers something inside which dispels the notion that those killed were patients. They were actually students participating in a gifted-child program sponsored by the hospital. It also suggests, the fire was purposely set. Why were they killed?
Buried on the grounds, their graves are exhumed only to find the fourth coffin empty. Where was the fourth student? What happened to them?
On a dare, Maggie and Jackson race down the infamous body chute. In the darkness, they both witness the wispy remnants of disembodied spirits lingering in the tunnel, fingers pointing to a section of the tunnel wall. Maggie has no choice but to push onward, coming face to face with the dark and twisted past of the hospital and truth behind the fire.
A compelling mystery for all ages, Mad Maggie Dupree and the Lost Gifts, the third book in the Mad Maggie Dupree series, is another engaging adventure.
Book 4 – While setting coins on the train tracks, letting passing trains flatten them, Maggie and her friends are startled when a man, dressed in rags, races from a deserted box car into the woods. Wondering if he was homeless, they decide to follow him and see if he needs help, noticing a fifty-dollar bill on the ground. Why would a homeless man have a fifty-dollar bill?
Moving through the woods, trying to track him, they come to a boarded-up train tunnel wedged into the hillside. Pulling some of the loose boards free, they explore inside, the tunnel damp and dark. While exploring, they stumble upon three empty, half-buried Stillwater Bank bags.
But that’s not all.
They notice a spray-painted mark glowing on the wall and find a silver necklace along the tracks. Maggie remembers one of the Darke County Fair workers wearing the exact same necklace. Was he involved? Where was the homeless man? What did the mark on the wall mean? And more importantly, where was the money?
Compulsively readable, Mad Maggie Dupree and The Darke County Fair is the fourth book in the Mad Maggie Dupree series. Looking into yet another harrowing mystery, the head-strong, slingshot toting redhead leaves an indelible mark with each mistake and every triumph as she and her friends look out for each other while always seeking the truth.
It’s a weird question, isn’t it? If you ask ten writers, you’ll probably get ten different answers. And who’s to say who’s right? Maybe they all are. If you’re a writer you probably have your own opinion about it.
Thinking about it, there are definite qualifiers. Is it the first time you finish a short story? What about the first time you finish a novel? What about the first publishing credit? Is it the first PAID publishing credit? (There is a difference as we all know, lol) Is it the first time someone other than a family member reads a manuscript and likes it? Is it the first time anyone via social media comments on a story you’ve written? Is it the first time someone comes to a book signing and loses there mind watching you sign your name in the dedication?
All of those are great milestones and are important for writers to grow and to gain confidence but I don’t think any of those qualify you as a writer.
Now calm down. I’m not saying those DISqualify you from calling yourself a writer. All I’m saying is those things don’t make you a writer.
No, my friend, you’re a writer far before that.
Calm me stupid, and many people do so join the club, but you became a writer the moment you put pen to paper and began to write. Creating wonderful characters and well crafted narratives out of the infinite white of the blank page is when it happens. Sure, the other stuff is great to experience but the writer, the one who chews on stories late at night, banging out words on a crappy manual typewriter or the truly hardcore, old-school enthusiasts who use actual paper and pens (yes, I’m talking to you freaks who do it the hard way lol)
All of you are writers.
Writing and calling yourself a writer begins from word one, day one. And don’t worry about the publishing credits, they’ll come soon enough. Worry about writing.
So, stop reading this post and start writing, you idiots.
So why do so many writers act like it is, guarding their experiences, both good and bad, like they are state secrets? Or worse yet, piling on unwarranted criticism on fledgling writers trying to find their ‘writer legs’.
Whether I’m editing a piece for a client or a friend, I’m always encouraging. Writing is a very solitary volition, hours invested in discovering the proper voice for the piece, getting the dialog to crackle, and bringing the setting alive with engaging characters. All of us, no matter how vast our publishing history is, need some kind of validation, whether from a friend’s comments after giving it a read or a family member. But nothing compares to those comments from contemporaries, the other solitary souls wringing out their fears and dreams within the pages of their manuscript just like we are.
Think about it.
When you were growing up and your mom and dad said you’d done well on a test or in a game, it didn’t mean the same as hearing those things from a teacher, a student or a fellow teammate or coach. Those people toiling with you day in and day out knew what it took to produce on the field and in the classroom. They were there with you in the trenches.
It’s the same for writers.
Hearing your mom say what you’ve written is the greatest thing ever, is not the same as a fellow writer saying those same words, particularly if they have some publishing credits to their name.
All of us, who take up the pen to pour ourselves on the page, should help each other. There is nothing more rewarding then helping a fellow author by leaving a review, editing a piece, or providing encouragement.
Just over two weeks from now, the second book in my Mad Maggie series will be released. Entitled ‘Mad Maggie and the Wood Witch’, this story follows Mad Maggie Dupree and her friends as they investigate a legendary spirit haunting the grounds of the Stillwater Pyschiatric Hospital.
I’m writing the fourth book in my middle-grade mystery series ‘Mad Maggie Dupree’ and need help with a title.
Maggie Dupree lives on the grounds of the Sillwater Psychiatric Hospital. Her dad is the new hospital administrator. She and her family had to move and live on the grounds as part of her dad’s new job.
While placing coins on the railroad tracks, waiting for the train to run over them, pushing them flat, Maggie and her friends stumble across a homeless man living in a nearby abandoned box car. When they try to follow him, they find a $50.00 bill scattered by the railroad tracks. Following him into a dilapidated supply tunnel, they find a necklace that looks like the same kind a mean spirited carny at the Darke County Fair had worn a few nights before along with empty money bags from the Stillwater Bank.
As they begin to investigate, an odd looking young boy starts to appear at random times. Always wearing the same brown striped shirt, his face pale but marred by dark smudges, he never speaks, only watching them.
I’m so excited! Received my contract from Clean Reads Publishing for the third book in the Mad Maggie Dupree middle-grade thriller series. It’s entitled ‘Mad Maggie Dupree and the lost Gifts’.
Kenny, one of the bullies on the grounds, challenges Maggie and Jackson to a bike race through the legendary body chute, where the tuberculosis patients were taken after they’d died. While there, Jackson and Maggie see odd smoky looking apparitions. Looking into the hospital’s checkered past, the realized a terrible accident occurred on the grounds involving a bus fire and four students attending the hospital’s gifted program.
The first book, ‘Mad Maggie Dupree’, is available now on Amazon. Click the cover below for print or Kindle versions. The second book ‘Mad Maggie Dupree and the Wood Witch’ will be available on October 30, 2018.
If you cringed just reading the title of this blog post, you’re not alone. Most writers I’ve talked to about their craft lament that editing is the worst part of the writing process. They would much rather simply create, getting words on paper and not think about editing.
I used to be in the same boat until I started submitting my work, suddenly realizing nothing was ready to be sent out. It was a huge undertaking getting my stories ready. It was my own fault, but it did nothing to lessen my hatred of the editing process.
When I took over as Managing Editor for Storyteller Magazine, something changed. I found editing other author’s work to be rewarding. Helping them grow as writers and learn the craft was incredible. It also made me a better editor. The more pieces I edited, the quicker I found inconsistencies, errors, and areas in need of improvement.
And then something really weird happened.
I found I loved editing my own work as well. I honestly think it had to do with the fact I had honed my editing skills to the point that it wasn’t a huge undertaking any longer. It wasn’t like pulling teeth. It was honestly just part of the process.
What I find happens now while editing is I get excited about what I created. Sometimes it leads to writing a second book and turning the original idea into a series, while other times it just fuels the idea machine in my head for something entirely different.
I would urge you to try and not shy away from it. Embrace editing as part of the process. As with anything, the more you do it, the better you will become. Who knows, you might surprise yourself and grow to enjoy it the way I do. (I ducked in case you were throwing something at the screen)
I’ve written a number of series and each one has tugged at my heart in different ways. I’m currently working on the fourth book in the Mad Maggie Dupree series. The first two books are under contract with Clean Reads Publishing. The first book was released June 26th of this year. The second, entitled ‘Mad Maggie Dupree and The Wood Witch’ will be out October 30th, 2018. The third book, ‘Mad Maggie and the Lost Gifts’ was just submitted with Clean Reads.
I’ve written a number of posts about my writing technique. I’m definitely not a plotter nor a planner, so it’s been interesting keeping things moving forward from book to book keeping them connected.
I keep notes on each book and combine them into one word document to keep names, places, dates, and occurrences straight as I’m writing. It’s been a lifesaver.
I’m currently editing the third book in the Mad Maggie Dupree series. Right now, it’s title is Mad Maggie Dupree and the Lost Gifts, but it might change as I go through the manuscript. The title has already changed twice, so it might very well change a third time.
Unlike the first two books (Mad Maggie Dupree and Mad Maggie Dupree and the Wood Witch) which already had titles even before I finished the rough draft, the third book is being a little ornery. It’s not that I haven’t liked the working titles I’ve used (Mad Maggie Dupree and the Forgotten, Mad Maggie Dupree and the Dark Spirits) it’s just it doesn’t feel quite right.
Once I finish the editing pass, and a get the internal voices to agree on the title, I’ll submit it to Clean Reads and hope they pick it up to continue Mad Maggie’s adventures.