The Three R’s for Authors
Ridin’, ‘Ritin’, and Ropin’
Most of our western characters ride horses. So, whether we personally ride or not, we have to know enough about riding to write about it realistically.
Ridin’ and Ritin’
To get started riding, you have to get on the horse.
To get started writing, you have to start the book. Now, how profound is that?
Come up with your plot. Establish a unique story line. Do some research. Historical research will help you understand motives for your characters as well as provide a sense of realism to your story.
Leave a map of your route when riding out on the trail.
When writing, an outline will help, even if it’s only a skeleton. You can flesh it out, seat of the saddle, as you go.
Establish a regular practice routine.
Likewise, work on your book every day. Choose a place to write that is different from where you do other activities. Most authors are embarrassed of their first book. But without that first, they would not have learned the lessons they did. So put your work out there, fail early, and try again. The only way you get good is with practice.
Horseback riding is a dangerous sport. The safest way to learn to ride is with an experienced riding instructor or coach.
The same applies to writing. Acquire a mentor, someone who can guide you along the learning path. Then listen and follow instructions. Never use three words when one will do. Be concise. Focus on visual details and be descriptive. Include description of colors, what the lighting is like, sounds and smells. Try to transport your reader to the scenes you picture. Don’t rush. You can’t rush inspiration, and rushing can cause mistakes. Write what you know.
When working with a horse, pay attention to rhythm.
The same thing applies to writing. We all work at different paces. But there are some habits we should develop. Give yourself daily or weekly deadlines. It can be a word count, page count, whatever. Just have something to aim for, and someone who will hold you accountable. No matter what, finish the book. Then send it to a publisher or agent. Just don’t put it in your drawer.
Riding too long can cause aches and pains and increase our grumpiness.
Sitting at the computer too long can do the same. Take regular breaks.
Check tack frequently for signs of wear and weakness.
Keep your computer in good shape. And don’t forget to make backups
The hardest thing about learning to ride is the ground. Learn how to fall. Then get up and get back on!
Do the same with writing. Embrace failure. Sure, it will hurt when it happens. But give yourself grace, room to learn. Then write another book.
To rope an animal:
- Enter the box.
- Mount your horse.
- Prime the lariat.
- Clench the piggin’ string firmly in your teeth.
- Nod your head to signat the animal’s release and start the clock.
- Charge into the arena.
- Leap off your horse and throw your loop.
Once your novel is finished:
- Have friends and family read through it.
- Share your work with professional colleagues or hire an editor.
- When it’s ready, send it out into the publishing arena.
- Swing a wide loop. Round up those readers!
I fell off my horse. Well, actually, my horse died. His name was Heartsong.
I had six books with my editor when the Heartsong Presents line closed. Now I’m trying to get up, brush myself off and learn the ropes of indie publishing by putting out a couple of those manuscripts myself.
Bandit Bride is a free download today. Help yourself. And if you enjoy it, a review would be greeted with a yeehaw!!
Prairie Bride, the second book of this duo, releases tomorrow.
Helen Brown grew up in a small Missouri town and changed colors when she married her pastor and became Helen Gray. They have three grown children. If her writing in even a small way touches others, she considers it a blessing and thanks God for the opportunity.