If you write, you are a writer.

If you write, you are a writer.

Own it! If you write, you are a writer. It’s as complicated and as simple as that.

Some will tell you that to be published, you need a high-concept. Your story must be unique and unlike anything that’s ever come before. It must be fresh. It must be timely. You should be able to sum it up in a log line. You can only have two point-of-view characters. It must … honestly, the longer you study the craft of writing, the longer this list becomes.

I’m about to tell you the one secret to being published – the number one thing you must do. Are you ready? Here it is: To be a published author, you have to write.

Write for the joy of writing and for the love of story.

Fiction is first and foremost about the story. If you want to publish your story, there are a lot of other chores that come later, but you can’t sell a product until the product is complete, just as a chef can’t serve a meal that isn’t finished cooking. That meal is a lot more than a compilation of ingredients, just as your novel is more than words. It’s the timing, it’s the temperature, it’s the presentation, and more.

A chef labors for hours to present a meal that is consumed in minutes. Writers labor for months, years even, to present a story that is read in hours. Just as a chef should not take advice from the untrained diner, critical of his sauce, writers must discriminate when receiving advice. Most people mean well, but only other writers understand the reality of your journey.

I recommend that you remain open to, and in fact, seek out advice from other writers. Join writing groups, such as Romance Writers of America. Attend workshops, classes and conferences to help build a network and improve your craft. Read what is currently being published in your genre. Read for pleasure.

Keep in mind, however, that the one thing you must do, of first and foremost importance, is write. Put your story on page.

There is a much quoted maxim that there are only seven stories in fiction. They are:

1. man against man
2. man against nature
3. man against himself
4. man against God
5. man against society
6. man caught in the middle
7. man and woman

If there are only seven stories, what do you have to bring to the page that hasn’t been done before? Doesn’t it stand to reason that every story has already been told, every plot already used? What do you – yes you – have to add to the millions of stories already available? What authority do you have?

Your authority is you.

Just as two eye witnesses will give vastly different accounts of the same incident, two authors will write completely unique points of view into every story.  It doesn’t matter if Nora Roberts or Stephen King used your plot. Your stories are a unique reflection of the life experience you bring to the page. Only you have lived your life. Only you can tell your stories.

Your stories are valid, unique and deserve to be told!

Write the stories you love. Give your characters the voice they deserve.

Somewhere, someone needs to hear exactly what you have to say.

Terri Rich

Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!

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