Making Your Book the Best It Can Be Before You Put It In Ink.

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or here on my blog, you know that I am a novice at writing. I try to read all that I can on the craft to hone it since I want my first book to be as good as I can get it. I know the second will be better, and the third better than that. But, the first…well, they say first impressions are everything and I believe that so I’ve been taking my time.

avoid-bad-writing-blue-roomI’ve done a lot of reading on the craft including the likes of Stephen King’s “On Writing”, Anne Lamott’s “bird by bird”, and Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”, to name a few. From each book, I’ve been able to take a few bits from here, a few bits from there, so that coupled with formal education, it has helped me to attain the basics of how to write. BASICS. Everyone needs them, you’re not just born with them. You can be born with imagination, the heart of an author, the need to let what’s inside you, out, but until you learn how, you’re no better than the person born to be a swimmer – until they learn the various strokes, they’re just treading water.

So, I’ve written a few short stories, I blog, and I’ve started on my first book (which is totally going to rock, by the way) and I’m able to do this with everything I’ve learned. BUT, always in the back of my mind, I knew what I was doing could always be better. That seems as it should be. Really, if you believe that you’re putting out the best you can and it’s good enough, then tell me, how’s that going for you? If you stop striving to become better, you’ll always be living in the past.

INK-FINALv3I have the good fortune and honor of being a proofreader for R.S. Guthrie. He just released his first non-fiction book, “INK – Eight Rules To A Better Book”. In INK, he sets forth the eight essential elements to making your book the best it can be. I got the first three chapters to proof, after which I literally begged him not to wait to finish the book before he sent me more. It is that good. I am here to tell you, I learned more from INK than from ALL the other books I’ve read combined. It’s not a book on how-to write but HOW TO TAKE WHAT YOU KNOW, WHAT YOU HAVE, AND MAKE IT BETTER. Scott Morgan, an author, editor, lecturer and all-around teacher of the craft in his own right, penned the foreword. In it, he called R.S. Guthrie’s Eight Rules the Eight Commandments. You can’t get much stronger a statement than that.

Why Ink? As R.S. Guthrie puts it in the Preface:

Everything you write leaves your handprints all over it. It’s a representation of you. It’s that unique. No one else in the world could have written it exactly the way you did. Kind of scary in a way. No one to blame but yourself. Not even a caddy. And when you finally take the plunge and publish your masterpiece, you’ve ‘written it in INK.’ (You know how we’re always saying we’ll pencil something in but when it’s written in ink it’s nearly as indelible as if it was carved in stone? That’s what we’re talking about here.)

Seriously. After your daily dose of clichés, it’s really true: once your work is out there, it’s permanent and it’s got your handprints on it. Forever. So when you’re chuckling at my concept of wanting your book to be the best it can be, stop, get some coffee, tea, do some chanting – whatever calms you, clears your head, and wastes a little time – then come back and reread that part about your handprints and being there FOREVER.

If you don’t know R.S. Guthrie, then you probably wouldn’t understand why he’s doing this. R.S. Guthrie believes in giving back. He’s the organizer and head of RABMAD, a collective of authors who give a portion of the proceeds of their book sales to a charity of their choice. His blog is entitled RobonWriting where he gives expert advice on writing and marketing. His follower count on Twitter is nearing six digits, “Likes” on his Facebook page have exceeded five digits already. He is on the rise but he wants to take you with him.  There is no competition. Each author is unique and he wants all of us to excel.

The reviews coming in from other authors are filled praise:

Author Russell Blake says, “Every writer, whether seasoned or a novice, can use a reminder of how to write in a more compelling, effective manner. This little book (and it wastes no space) contains the essentials to improving one’s writing, regardless of level of aptitude or development. Should be required reading for everyone considering writing, whether for fun or profit, along with Strunk & White. Five deserved stars.

Author Caleb Pirtle – ” There is an adage that I’m sure you’ve heard most of your life: those who can’t do, teach. Forget it. It’s not practical anymore. Acclaimed novelist R. S. Guthrie can write with pure, raw, and unbridled passion. He’s as good as it gets. If you don’t believe me, just check out his novels as Blood Land, Money Land, Black Beast, or Lost. And now he has created and published a primer to help writers become the kind of authors they always wanted to be with Ink: Eight Rules to a Better Book.

If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, his book, his rules are where you begin. If you’re already an aspiring writer, his ideas and guidelines can take you to the next level. And even if you are a published and professional writer, R. S. Guthrie provides a few nuggets that can make a difference in a good book and a great book.

For example, he underscores the important of building characters, which may be the most important role an author has in a novel. Guthrie says: “Readers love to feel, love to hate, love to worry, love to be on the run, love the innocent, detest the guilty, and they love real human beings. They want characters that–even though they are living a different, more enticing life–are still like them, with real faults, similar life experiences and challenges, whether it’s alcoholism, lost dreams, or doomed love. He tells writers: You must breathe humanness into the people populating your book. They need to be real. Extraordinary, yes, but believable. Flawed, yes, but forgivable. Evil to the core but uncomfortably familiar.”

There have been a lot of good books published on writing. Rank R. S. Guthrie’s Ink among them. His book is short, only about 100 pages. It’s to the point. It’s honest. It’s written simply because Guthrie cares about you as a writer. It’s as though he is seated across the table, having a late night conversation with you on the art of good writing while you sip your beverage of choice. What he says, if you are or want to be a writer, is worth remembering. What he says can make all the difference in the world.

Author Jo Vonbargen – “Wow. I’m a writer, a pretty good one, I think, but this book blew my smugness to the back of beyond! Again, Wow, I say. Only this author could do that!

This is education, true education, in the only form I can swallow. Chatty, achingly true, and it’ll shatter every good opinion you have of yourself all to Hell! Just what the doctor ordered for a person like me who only takes advice from the kindred brain-damaged.

I have great respect for Rob Guthrie, always have. This takes it to quite a new level. For me, a “how to do it” book has to reach me through the gut, and various orifices besides the eye and ear, to do me any good. Well, this morning, I am thoroughly gutted, slain in the spirit, and he’s given me a whole lot of thinking to do!

Don’t expect A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 here. Rob parks his arse down in a comfy sofa, cracks open a beer, and lays back to just let the communion roll. And, I emphasize, it IS communion, of the spirit. What spirit he’s channeling, I couldn’t rightly say. But I suspect crazy-a** Scott Morgan is hovering nearby. You’ll get cracked between the eyes, you’ll chuckle, you’ll say “Hmmm, I didn’t realize that” as many times as you say “Man, this dude’s brilliant!”

And besides all that, anything with a foreword by Scott Morgan, must mean his total support. And anything that Mr. Looneytunes supports, you can take to the bank. Put it in your bong and smoke it! None of us would ever sell another book if these two teamed up and began spewing out tomes left and right. Not that they don’t do that already! The term ‘prolific’ was indeed coined in their lower colons.

My advice? Click on it, right now. Get comfy, lean back, and take a big swig. Good for what ails ya, people. Wayyyy beyond good!

And the last from another Author working on his own first novel, R. W. Foster: “Ink is simply one of, if not *the* best writer’s guides I’ve read. Rob has an awesome gift for using his words that makes it seem as if he’s sitting across from you and holding a conversation with you. For me, the most useful section of Ink was where Rob broke down exactly what it means to “Show, not Tell.” I’ve heard for years that I’m supposed to do this, but I wasn’t 100% certain I understood it.

When I read his section about showing, it clicked. Now, I am 100% certain I have it. I’m glad I have my copy, and will buy one for my friends to use as well. Buy this book if you’re an aspiring writer. It will definitely make your writing better.

So, as you can see, it’s not just me waving the flag OVER HERE, this is what you’ve been waiting for! Get INK – Eight Rules To A Better Book and start writing that better book tomorrow. You deserve it and so do your readers.

mark twain quote

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6 Responses to Making Your Book the Best It Can Be Before You Put It In Ink.

  1. It’s difficult to reply and thank someone for writing a review or a blog that exudes your work; it feels self-congratulatory. I have to say thank you just the same because no person is required to take the time to support another writer—write a review, a blog, a tweet, or any other form of positive influence. This book is my favorite I’ve written, not because it has a thing to do with me but rather because the writers who read it will receive the best I have to offer in the form of advice on how to make their books the very best they can be. I honestly believe this book transcends the level of writer you are. The hundred pages therein are meant for any person who is a writer, no matter where that writer is along the path.

    A big thank you to Gail Gentry for proofing my works and for taking the time to write such a profoundly complimentary blog. 🙂

    • Gail Gentry says:

      I didn’t just want to do it, I also had to do it. Word needs to spread about how unbelievably fantastic this book is. You helped sum it up perfectly how this transcends the level of writer anyone is at this moment. Seasoned or novice, your Rules apply to all writers. Thank YOU for taking the time to write it. I do believe this book will join the ranks of must-reads for all writers.

  2. Lady Bren says:

    Great post while Ihave no aspirations what so ever of writing a novel your advice applies to any of us sharing our thoughts through the written word.

    BTW I added you on goodreads so look for that invite

  3. susielindau says:

    I am downloading this after your Tweet came to my email in a Twitter trend!

    • Gail Gentry says:

      Hi, Susie! I hope you get as much out of it as I did 🙂 It truly is one of THE books every writer, whether just starting out or even having a few books already published, should have and refer to. R.S. Guthrie recently made it available in paperback. I already have it and it stays on my desk 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting!

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