What is something that needs to be written?

QUORA: What is something that needs to be written?

Winner of Best in Contemporary Fiction 2018 Readers Favorite at Writers and Authors (2009-present)

My best friend J. was a showgirl in Vegas, married a famous Hollywood photographer, made a trip to the Far East to smuggle drugs, and brought up three grandchildren because her daughter is addicted to meth! J. has a story to tell.

A fourteen-year-old Muslim boy in Istanbul is learning English in Sultanahmet Square. He comes to the Blue Mosque every day and makes friends with tourists from all over the world. He wants to know everything about their lives and gets to practice the language. He also speaks French, German and Turkish. He’s outgoing and absolutely delightful. He has a story to tell.

A friend of mine has been confined in a hospital for years. He was working for a group he can’t talk about, doing things in countries that don’t show up on his passport, and he is a patriot. He can never tell his stories. But I immortalized him as Luke Raven in my Code Raven Series. His story would be too dangerous for anyone to know, never mind tell.

My friend’s son was the most popular kid in school in Whistler, a ski resort in Canada. He was a star snowboarder and taught kids younger than him just because he loves little kids. He thought he could handle smoking pot, hanging out on peoples’ couches, and dabbling in heroin. He’s 35 now and been jailed twice, or more—I’ve lost track. The last I heard he lives on the streets in Vancouver. My friend cries herself to sleep at night because she knows no one can save her son but himself. They both have stories to tell.

I was approached recently to help a woman tell her story. Her ‘daughter’ is actually not hers by blood but belonged to a drug-addicted boyfriend. He abandoned them when the child was very young, and my friend loved and cared for the child as if she was the birth mother. Throughout the years, the authorities tried to take her daughter away from her because she not only had no legal right to the child, but they were both from different cultures and different countries. My friend fought the system and by some miracle, she managed to hold onto her daughter. Her daughter graduated high school this year. Momma is very proud! And Momma wants to share her story.

When I wrote my first memoir, LOVE the Beat Goes On, I came across a quote that I’ve never forgotten. “When you write a memoir there is nowhere to hide.” I wrote my first memoir. But I too, have life stories that need to be told. And I will continue to write them.

There isn’t a human being alive that doesn’t have a story to tell. Including you. And your story needs to be written because there will always be someone who needs to read it.

How do you do that thing you do so well?

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It’s a common question asked by those who want to write a novel. I hear this all the time on Quora. Where do you begin? How? Where do you get your ideas? Do you plot? Do you ‘wing-it?’ How do you do that thing you do–so well?

Let’s talk about my latest release, SILK ROAD Code Raven 6. It’s a great example of my personal writing process and may help you to get started on yours!

It starts with a word. I asked a friend, fellow author, to give me a country. In this case, it was Kyrgyzstan–a country that had no meaning to me. If you’re familiar with the Code Raven Series, you would know that not only do I love my characters and develop them further with each story, but I also love to take them to different countries around the globe to get into–and out of–trouble!

In my research about Kyrgyzstan, I came across the history of how this country was once a part of the Soviet Union. I already had a rough idea of the Russia/Asia part of the world but didn’t know much about the terrain. If you are anything like me, once you go on the world-wide-web, one search turns into another, and another, and before you know it, you’re off on a tangent for no particular reason. In my case, my interest was piqued by the crime lords who moved in to fill the void of a legitimate government. Corruption of all types runs rampant in this predominately Muslim country.

At this point, I became intrigued by the historical implications of this centuries-old area and the original Silk Road–the trading route moving through Asia from the East to the West.

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Without giving away the plot, let’s just say that I became intrigued by the human condition and in particular how turmoil and greed affect women and children around the globe.

HERE’S MY PROCESS:

  1. Out comes the excel spreadsheet. 
  2. Usually, I reprint the Characters names across the top of the sheet so I don’t mix up attributes, history, or activities, timelines, etc. This is important when writing a series. You would work the same way as you introduce new characters in your novel even if it’s a stand-alone book. I also used this process on my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On
  3. Chapters numbers down the left side column.
  4. Next column a key phrase to summarize what will happen in that chapter.
  5. The next column will give more detail, possibly a paragraph of key events.
  6. In the planning stages, I might color code the chapters. If it’s fiction and action, I might color code an action event RED, something that moves the plot along in YELLOW, and a relatively soft aspect, emotional, resting chapter might be soft green. This way you can make sure you don’t lose your reader by dropping the pace. Inevitably all my reviewers say this series is ‘fast-paced.’ You want that when writing a mystery. Otherwise, your fans will get bored and put your book down! We want them to read it in “one sitting!”
  7. The chapters continue down the page until the end.

Why a spreadsheet?

I use this concept if I’m writing Action/Adventure/Mystery or Contemporary Romance or Non-fiction like my memoir. Why?

  1. It’s easy to cut-and-paste therefore changing the sequence of events, or slotting in a new chapter!
  2. You can see the entire story in one place. 
  3. The spreadsheet allows you to edit the events along the way inserting, expanding where you find your plot to be weak.

My process is always fluid. I never set a rigid plot.

Sometimes I start with one idea and watch the following events move down the page. The thoughts, ideas I have may never make it to the final story. But here’s the key: one idea leads to another, and another, and another. And my story starts to take shape from that original one word. Example:

Silk Road. Trade. Smuggling. The new Rail service from the coast of China all the way to London, England! Think about the potential here. Imagine all the events that could happen along the way! And that’s how the story moved along. And then I found activities in the Maldives that I decided to connect. And one of my main characters, Zach was summoned to Washington DC by the frightening pleas from a SEAL friend he served with in his Afghanistan/Bin Laden days.

Here’s a couple of teasers so you get a feel for the final story:

A former Navy SEAL gets a terrifying message from his estranged daughter. “I’m desperate! I need your help, Dad. Bring your friends!”

“They stole my baby Daddy! They’ve got my boy!” Will a team of ex-SEALs break US law to exact revenge?

A teenager is abducted in Kyrgyzstan. Has she become one of many kidnapped brides? Or is something far more frightening going on? The corrupt authorities ignore the parents’ pleas for help.

A new Silk Road train stretches from the eastern shores of Yiwu China to London, England. Its precious cargo is not what’s written on the manifest.

When two young children are abducted in the middle of the night from Raven’s sanctuary in the Maldives, Luci, Luke, and the Raven Group will stop at nothing to get them back.

Are all these horrific events linked?

If I’ve peaked your interest and you want a great read, written in the style of Lee Childs, David Baldacci, or Clive Cussler, get your copy on Amazon: Silk Road

 

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Why do I write?

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1. I live inside my mind. Thoughts build up in there to the point where I’m searching madly for somewhere to write them down.

2. Reading others’ words excite me and fill me with joy, or peace, or love, or passion—it’s the way I interact in my world.
3. When I compose a poem, a one-liner, a plot, or a book, I’m lost at that moment. Nothing else exists in my universe. The world stops.
4. No one can enter my mind unless I invite them in. That’s powerful. “I live in my own little world. They know me here.”
5. Language has the power to move us to tears. Lyrics break hearts, a stunning poem can make us cry, we can get lost for hours in a good novel, or change the world because of something an influential person has shared with us.
6. Words seduce us, inspire us to feats of greatness, send messages of love, heal others who are in pain and suffering.
How can I sum up the feeling I get when I complete one of my novels? Or when I finished my memoir?

Writing is the sum of all the fantastic parts of living our lives. Where would we be without the written word? Where would my fingers and my mind find a home?

Stephen King-Love What You Do

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Yes, I love to share my TOP 10 Lists from Evan Carmichaels YouTube Videos.

Today, it’s Stephen King. If you are a writer, aspiring author or a creative of any type, I think you will love his book On Writing. It’s the one that has influenced me most in my life. I bought it as a gift for my son when he was 15 and showed an interest in writing. He read it and then said, “Mom, you need to read this.” I did, and it’s been my bible ever since. Today I share Stephen King with you. If you click on the link, you can watch the video.

And now, here’s Stephen King’s Top 10 RULES FOR SUCCESS

  1. LOVE WHAT YOU DO
  2. BE YOURSELF
  3. EXPLORE NEW IDEAS
  4. THE GOOD IDEA STAYS WITH YOU
  5. LOVE THE PROCESS
  6. LEARN FROM REJECTIONS
  7. LOOK FOR IDEAS YOU ENJOY
  8. FIND YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS
  9. PASS SOMETHING ON
  10. TELL GREAT STORIES. 

The ones that resonate with me are #2 Be Yourself. I’ve finally gotten over myself and write what I want. Which leads me to #5 Love the Process–even when you’re stuck like I’ve been all day today. UNTIL…that magic moment when the plot reveals itself.

And I also find motivation by reminding myself that my job is #10 Tell Great Stories.

If you have a favorite, share it. And check out Evan Carmichael’s channel. You won’t be disappointed.

Have an exciting, exhilarating, and creative week.

 

Lynda Filler’s most recent novel:  Lie To Me an exposé on sex for money

 

What things should one be good at in order to become a good writer?

Lynda Filler
Lynda Filler, Top Quora Writer 2018 Winner of Best in Contemporary Fiction 2017 BTRC at Writers and Authors (2009-present)

Be Brave. You have to be able to open your heart and pour out your feelings. It doesn’t matter what genre you’re in. Let it flow. Be Brave.

Be Bulletproof. Some people choose not to read their reviews. I read them and on Goodreads thank the writers. But I still remember words used to describe my first JET, an action ex-Mossad female assassin. A reader said I’d turned her into a “horny slut.” Today I laugh, then, it wasn’t funny. I thought I “humanized” her. Don’t let the haters get inside your head.

Be Curious. It doesn’t matter what. It’s curiosity that has kept me traveling the world in my stories. I LOVE taking my characters to different places in my work whether it’s action or contemporary romance. They live in my mind and I live in their worlds. It’s great fun and takes me to places I didn’t know exist. My current WIP starts off in Kyrgyzstan, moves to Paris, then the Maldives… and on and on. Research, photos, travel, it’s all part of my curiosity about people, places, and issues.

Be Passionate. Don’t write it if you aren’t enjoying the words and the process. A friend recently told me he trashed 87 chapters. Now for me, that would be 100k but for him, it could be 250–300k words. That’s a lot of work and love to decide it’s not worthy of finishing.

Be Gentle. Writing is not for the faint of heart. Believe in yourself. Love what you do. Let no one be a bully to your talent or your belief in you. Self-talk is key in any work/game/sport/job.

And most of all, remember the Little Engine That Could, if you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t…you’re probably right.

What would you do?

 

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1. What is your idea of success?

Sometimes your failure–for trying–is better than someone else’s success in staying where he/she is. There’s nothing sadder than hearing an older person say: “I wish I had…” “I should have tried…” “I always wanted to…” “Why didn’t I… when I had the opportunity?”

2. It’s okay to crawl and crawl some more…

This one is particularly hard for me. I come from the generation of women who believed we could have it all. And then we found out that having it all meant not all things worked out. Marriages failed, businesses went bankrupt and children didn’t always fill that void in your heart for being needed and loved. But still, we tried and for that, we have no regrets.

Wanting something and not giving up, often times means we have to crawl or take baby steps when in reality we want to LEAP!

3. Know you will have setbacks… and do it anyway.

I’ve done many things in my life. Most have been somewhat within my control. Choosing to put my writing out there took courage. I remember the first reviews of my first novella, JET. I had a troll. I didn’t even know what that was. Let me explain. It’s someone who reviews your work and leaves hurtful remarks, and what he/she hopes will derail your current and future efforts. He hated my story so much that he actually bought the second in the series so he could hate on that one too! Hah, that’s when I caught on. I kept writing them anyways! I believed in my work and my fans love them and ask for more! They’re successful Kindle World novellas. Amazon sees the fans reactions and reviews and promotes them. And I get lost in JET’s world when I write them.

JET-DISPLACED is 4th in the Series and JET-Reborn (will be out in two weeks) now published!

4. Be open to criticism.

I cringed when I received criticism for one of my books. Now as I continue to become a better writer, I’m grateful for comments that rang true to me–even if I didn’t want to hear them at the time. Reviews have helped me grow and encouraged me beyond measure. Without the great reviews I receive, I would stop publishing. It’s not easy to break through in 2018. It requires an attitude of “this is what I was born to do, and I will continue, even if no one buys a single book.”

5. Find those who have succeeded in your field and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.

Authors can be the most gracious or the nastiest friends you can have. Search out the ones and the groups who are friendly and encouraging. And remember, we are all so busy that we can’t always do the things you request but we can point you in the right direction.  For me, that amazing group has been #RRBC. The members are caring, supportive and talented. They don’t talk their talk, they just DO IT!

6. If you want it bad enough, remember…

The story goes that Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, presented his concept/sauce/chicken and was rejected one thousand and nine times before he received a yes!

We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Stephen King’s Carrie sells 1 million in the first year alone.

“Frenetic and scrambled prose.” Viking Press disagree and publish one of the most influential novels of all time. Since 1957 it has regularly sold at least 60,000 copies every year. Which has seen On The Road by Jack Kerouac, become a multi-million best-seller.

31 publishers in a row turn down The Thomas Berryman Number. It wins the Edgar for Best Novel becoming a best-seller for James Patterson. An author with 19 consecutive number #1′s on the New York Times best-seller list and sales of 220 million

16 literary agencies and 12 publishers reject A Time To Kill. Its modest print run of 5000 quickly sells out, as it goes on to become a best-seller for its author: John GrishamCombined sales of 250 million.

7. Regrets are worse than never taking the chance.

When my children were babies, I remember reading a story to them called The Little Engine That Could (1906 original story). It’s a children’s book with the graphics of a little engine trying to make its way up a hill. It’s so small and the hill is so large, and the poor little engine is so tiny. It’s impossible, says everyone. But the little engine kept saying “I think I can…I think I can…” and chugged along slowly and methodically. When I crested the hill, it chugged out the worlds: “I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could!”

So this Sunday morning I write this blog first, for me, and second, for YOU!

Don’t give up. The world is waiting to hear from you!

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On how to improve your writing skills

 

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I’ve been asked on Quora how I improve my writing skills. A good question don’t you think?

 

  1. Writing is learned by reading—and writing. So the first thing to do would be to read more. This month I will produce a 25000-word novella—I’m at 8000 words today, and I will probably have read 6 novels or more before year-end.
  2. I have over 650,000 views on my Quora answers. I started writing on here a few months ago, I think in the summer. I always write my answer on this page, then copy/paste to Word to check grammar and spelling. As an author I have certain mistakes I make over and over again—a stubborn slow learner. Then I correct the essay and copy/paste back. In these last few months, my organizational skills have improved, my sentence structure and grammar have advanced. Now I can write an answer and if I’m in a hurry, I post. Quora has definitely helped me work on my writing skills.
  3. If you have a style like I do, or your writing has been compared to certain authors, hone your style and do so by reading everything the other mentor/authors have written. For example, with the release of my first novel I was compared to Lee Childs, David Baldacci, and Clive Cussler. Not too shabby. I read the latest Childs and Baldacci books over the past two weeks. So find your style and get better and better at it.
  4. If you are published as I am on Amazon.com: Lynda Filler: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle read your reviews. And not just the good ones. I struggled with an aspect of one of my books, the readers picked up on the same challenge. So although my reviews are high 4.4/5 I recognized an issue and I eliminated it in the next book. So fans may love your message but are quick to let you know where you can improve. They will let you know what you do right and what you do wrong. They offer invaluable feedback.

You “Reach” Me

Do you have authors that you love? You’re so obsessed with their work that you’ll read anything they write? These authors are my Saturday-night-dates and my all-nighters. And they are the only guys occupying my bed these days–by choice!

#1 is Lee Child #2 Daniel Silva #3 David Baldacci #4, Russell Blake. I could go on but you can see I have a type.

I published my first novella JET-Exposed, fan-fiction for Kindle Worlds in 2015. I have four novellas now based on the USA Today Bestselling author, Russell Blake ‘s JET Series  One of my first reviewers wrote:

Lynda Filler: “The author’s style is reminiscent of Clive Cussler, Lee Childs or Baldacci.” Her words motivate and inspire me to do a better job with each book that I write. 
I answer questions on Quora. The number one question to show up on my page every other day is: How do I become a good writer? And the answer is: READ! And of course, WRITE. Read anything that appeals to you. I inhale my books. They become part of my writing DNA. I write what I love to read. And when I can’t write, I get that craving… like something’s missing in my life.
I started the latest Jack Reacher (#22) last night. I will finish it today. Usually, I go right through it in a day. But I wanted to savor this one. It’s his best Reacher yet! Others may not agree. But I’m sure you never think of highlighting a fast-paced mystery/suspense book…but this one is all (kindle) marked up. The Midnight Line does all the things I love. It addresses a serious social issue: the opioid epidemic. And another cause, obviously close to Lee Child’s heart–what happens to our veterans when they return from war zones and get out of the military?
This novel reached out to me, grabbed my heart and had me in tears. There’s something so much deeper than mere entertainment going on this novel.
It’s the best Reacher yet!

 

Do you love what you write?

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I love my books. But I loathe third read-throughs and edits. I’m done by the time the book comes back from the editor for final review. It’s not that I don’t love what I’ve written, but the tedious job of going back over it, over and over again, is boring for me. I want to write my story. Then send it out into the world to find readers who will adopt it and give a loving home.

I can’t write something I don’t like or wouldn’t want to read. That’s why I focus on thriller, romantic suspense, mystery, poetry, and memoir. My characters become my friends. Sometimes they even beg me—like my fans—to write book 2, and 3 and 4 ( like JET: EXPOSED (Kindle Worlds Novella) (JET WORLD Book 1).

I had a dream two nights ago. I spent yesterday trying to analyze it. I won’t go into details except to say I was wearing blue panties and bra, I saw deep turquoise waters, a man was speaking French, and a Middle Eastern guy in an expensive suit sat on a chair observing me. This morning I woke up and I knew without a shadow of a doubt what the dream was telling me. It’s time to write the memoir of my relationship with a Navy SEAL who died in 2011.

So I LOVE everything I’ve written. I often read or post my poetry from books 1/2/3 because they’re a form a journaling for me. And my novels are my friends, and LOVE The Beat Goes On is how I beat a 6 months death sentence and lived to share the story.

How could I not love and enjoy re-reading my work?

 

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How do you handle writer’s​ block?

 

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Take a break. Go out, have lunch, take some photos, read a book—clear your head. You might be pushing too hard.

I read gossip columns, go to Huffington Post, Netflix—watch something totally unlike anything I’m working on. The idea is to trick your muse into thinking he/she is no longer working. Then go back to it.

Think of it like training in the gym or playing any kind of sport, or running a business. You have to take breaks to let the muscles—mind, body, creative juices—grow and flow.

I’ve published quite a few books/novellas since the summer of 2015. After the first novella JET: EXPOSED (Kindle Worlds Novella) (JET WORLD Book 1) I was lucky to have a mentor in the creator of the JET series. I learned from Russell Blake how to plot. So I plot. I don’t get stuck on the writing because the story is plotted out on Excel or any spreadsheet before I start to write. Do things change along the way? Absolutely. Are there surprise characters? Sure, that’s where the fun starts. That’s why they are called action/mystery/suspense novellas! Remember, if it is too easy to write, depending on the genre, it might run the risk of being predictable to the reader. And that’s not good.

When I decided to write a memoir on my healing journey LOVE The Beat Goes On I really struggled. How do you write the story or your life? And did I really want to do that? The answer was no. I wanted to focus on my diagnosis in 2008. The doctors told me to get my affairs in order, I had maybe 6 months to live. So writing this story I did the same thing as in my novels. I worked with a spreadsheet and found everything fell neatly into place. The first half is background up to my panic at the idea of dying. The second half is “what I did, what works, and what I continue to do.”

Think of your writing as a business and handle roadblocks the same way any major corporation would handle a problem. Take a break, let it all go for a few hours or less, then come back to it with a fresh approach.

And most of all enjoy your roadblocks. They are part of the process and will help you end up with amazing results!