Practical advice for beginning fiction writers. – James Shipman


Practical advice for beginning fiction writers.

I think the very first thing I would suggest is to spend some time researching the specific area of writing you are interested in.  Find out who is currently selling in this market and read some of their work.  Get on Goodreads and other sites and read what people have to say about these authors.  What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Once you have decided what specific genre you are interested then conduct some additional research on how to map out a novel.  There are various techniques suggested online.  Take the time to experiment with what makes you comfortable. Some people are very linear, others are visual.  There is no right answer.  The question is what works best for you.  Once you find the best outlining strategy then start working on your characters and what your story is going to be all about.  There is a tremendous temptation to rush past all of this and start writing, but you will likely find huge holes in your story later if you haven’t spent the time learning who your characters are, what motivates them, and if you haven’t mapped out what is going to happen at what point in your story.

After you have mapped out everything (I spend about 200 hours doing this BEFORE I start writing), then start writing away.  I think a good pace is 7,000 words a week.  This allows you to complete the first draft in three or four months.  I try to do 1,000 words a day, but sometimes I have to play catch up on the weekends because I work full time.  I don’t always hit my goal, and it takes me usually 120 days or so to produce a 100,000 word book.

As you are working on your book start some marketing.  At first it is just beneficial to start a Twitter account, Goodreads, a website, and a Facebook fan account.  There are other accounts also but those are the three I have focused on.  Every day as part of your writing ritual add some friends, tweet, etc.  Try to find some other authors and author groups to join.  Each day email a person or two and start building some relationships.

From here there are a number of additional decisions.  Do I try to get an agent and publish traditionally?  Do I self publish?  Do I have a beta reading group or an ARC group?  Do I have a professional editor or a few English savvy friends?  While you are writing take a little time each day to research these issues and also talk with friends.

Best of luck to you!


In 1453 Constantinople is the impregnable jewel of the East. It has stood as the greatest Christian city for a millennium as hordes have crashed fruitlessly against its walls.

But Mehmet II, the youthful Sultan of the Ottoman Turks, has besieged the city. His opponent is Constantine XI, the wise and capable ruler of the crumbling Eastern Roman Empire. Mehmet, distrusted by his people and hated by his Grand Vizer, must accomplish what all those before him have failed to do: capture Constantinople. To prove that he deserves the throne that his father once took from him, Mehmet, against all advice, storms the city. If he fails, he will not only have failed himself and his people, but he will surely lose his life.

On the other side of the city walls, the emperor Constantine must find a way to stop the greatest army in the medieval world. To finance his defenses, he becomes a beggar to the Pope, the Italian city-states, and the Hungarians. But the price for aid is high: The Pope demands the Greeks reunite the Eastern and Western churches and accept the Latin faith. If Constantine wants aid for his people he must choose between their lives and their souls.

Two leaders, two peoples, two faiths battle for their future before the mighty walls of Constantinople.

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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG

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