Recently I participated in an on-line tutorial with this year’s authors in the International Thriller Writers debut authors’ program. Afterward, I wrote a letter to each of them. I thought that some of you might be interested in what I said.
Dear Fellow ITW Authors—
I’m amazed by how far International Thriller Writers has come since Gayle Lynds and I co-founded it (with a lot of help from others) in 2004 at Bouchercon in Toronto. At that time, there were 84 members. Now we have thousands.
Our goal is for everyone to help everyone else, whether the authors are veterans or beginners. ThrillerFest—and especially the CraftFest part of it —is one major way we accomplish that goal. Another way is the Debut Authors Program, to which I heartily welcome you.
When I was 17, I made the decision to become an author. I never looked back. In my fifth decade as a published author (an eternity in the writing world), I have a few mantras that worked for me. I discussed some of them recently in my Internet chat with many of you. Here they are again. They deserve to be repeated and thought about.
- Be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of another author.
- Don’t chase the market.
- Let the story tell you what it wants to do. Don’t get in its way.
- A long career has peaks and valleys. Keep the long view.
- Use your writing to make you a fuller, better person by exploring themes that matter to you, by using techniques that stimulate you, and by doing research that excites you.
On my website, you’ll find a WRITING page that has several free essays. Among them are FIVE RULES FOR WRITING THRILLERS, FIVE FURTHER CONCEPTS, and CHOOSING NAMES. The first chapter of my writing book THE SUCCESSFUL NOVELIST is also available there.
I salute you at the beginning of your careers. What we do is not for the faint of heart, but having lived this way for two-thirds of a lifetime, I still wouldn’t have chosen another path.