What Does It Take to Become a Writer? With EBBD Excerpt, by Gianna Thomas

What Does It Take to Become a Writer? With EBBD Excerpt, by Gianna Thomas

I’m not sure exactly when I decided to become a writer. I had been doing five minute Bible talks for nearly thirty years that consisted of taking about an hour’s worth of information and condensing it into a nutshell. But doing stories or entire books would be doing just the opposite: taking a kernel of an idea and expanding it to whatever length it would need. Could I do it?

I started out as a ghostwriter on a couple of sites that offered writers for various client projects. This allowed me to work from home instead of for someone else at a different location. Gaining income in this manner was very acceptable. However, it required a great deal of discipline.

My biggest decision about writing occurred when I first got a hold of a Pride and Prejudice variation. I was smitten by the love bug right off the bat. Couldn’t read enough of them. After indulging in a couple of hundred of these fascinating books and falling in love with Darcy, I found that a number of plots were running through my head. Could I even think about writing my own Pride and Prejudice Variations? Should I?

Without even taking a writing course, I decided that ‘yes’ I could. So, I jumped in with both feet and wrote Attending a Ball, one of the prequels for Darcy Chooses. And even though I could have—and probably should have studied more before starting to write—I basically have learned as I’ve gone along, and I’m not disappointed in the results. I’ve learned a lot about writing and marketing and am still learning. One never reaches the point of knowing it all, even after twelve years.

If you are thinking about becoming an author, I would suggest taking several steps:

  1. Take a writing course. This will help with seeing what’s involved and give you a taste of what it is like as a writer.
  2. Get information concerning editing. This will help you with punctuation, spelling, etc. so that you can write clean manuscripts with fewer mistakes.
  3. Don’t rely on just your own editing. Our brains have a tendency to quietly note corrections but don’t inform our conscience self so that the corrections are made. Consequently, missing words never get added, etc.
  4. Use good betas as they will catch a lot of editing mistakes and even plot holes on occasion.
  5. Set deadlines for when to write, what to write, how much to write according to your schedule. 

I do try to set deadlines because if I don’t, I won’t even start. When it boils down to it, I probably enjoy sitting down and reading more than writing. And, yet, I have at least 50 plot bunnies that I should be pursuing. After all, writing is my profession and income; reading is not.

I would suggest that you always set deadlines. Why? Even if you do not make the deadline, you will make progress until you finish your book, etc. Deadlines such as a builder dealing with concrete things that can be touched, felt, and put together can be deduced as to the final outcome. Writing is not like that. It is imagination, thought provoking, and elusive at times. Instead of laying our hands on a board, nails, and a hammer to finish something, we reach into those wonderful computers we have in our heads called brains and start picking them. This process is delicate, time consuming, imaginative, and a lot of hard work to put together words that tell a story the readers want to buy, that stirs the readers’ imaginations, makes them want to read on until they finish the book instead of going to sleep when they should, and sighing when they reached the end of the story because they loved it so much they didn’t want it to end.

Are you a storyteller? If so, we are part of that small number of humanity called writers/authors/storytellers. And we are important to people’s lives. We give them a reprieve from real life; we give them a pause that refreshes; we also stir their imagination; and, in some cases, we give them a taste of what could be.

So, don’t be discouraged if the words don’t come immediately. They will eventually come. In the meantime, think about where you want your story to go, how you want your characters to react, what scenes do you want to include, and what lessons do you want to teach as well. Also, what do you want your readers to get out of your book?: the pleasure of Darcy and Elizabeth finally getting married and living happily ever after; Caroline Bingley getting her comeuppance; George Wickham getting punished or possibly redeeming himself;  Mrs. Bennet foregoing her salts and her hysteria; Jane marrying someone else other than Bingley.

So long as you are making progress—whether a little or a lot—you are still making progress. Be happy with that because soon the book will be finished and published, and you can start work on the next one with a feeling of satisfaction that you’ve done something that most people will NEVER do and that is write a book.

Now, on with the excerpt from Elizabeth Bennet’s Bad Days, Chapter II. ENJOY!

Chapter II

Remorse Most Keen

Elizabeth sat quietly on her bed and facing the floor as big, fat tears rolled down her cheeks. Not a sound could be heard as she sat in misery contemplating the disaster that was experienced that evening.

She wasn’t a vindictive individual. Having four sisters—three of them younger than herself—meant that she had to learn forbearance and forgiveness if there was to be a measure of peace in the Bennet household. And yet, there had not been much tranquility this past evening beginning with her losing her temper with the youngest Bennet child in the family.

She dropped her head in her hands and began weeping in earnest as her eldest sister entered the room.

“Lizzy. Whatever is the matter?”

“Oh, Jane. I have been so cruel. I’ve tried to be a loving sister to all my siblings, but this night has seen me fail at everything: love, civility, and even common courtesy to my family and to new acquaintances.”

Elizabeth felt comforted as Jane sat on the bed beside her and gathered her into a hug. Very gently her sister began rubbing her back and speaking quiet words to sooth her younger sibling. In a few minutes, Lizzy hiccupped and accepted the offered handkerchief. Wiping away her tears, she succumbed to a sigh.

“Are you well, Lizzy?”

“No, but I soon will be. Thank you.”

“Could I ask what has distressed you the most this evening?”

Elizabeth barked out a watery laugh. “Yes, you may. However, I may not give you a satisfactory answer.”

***

So, the ever loving and patient Jane chose to just wait. She knew if she waited long enough without saying a word, Elizabeth would eventually confess to what had her so discomposed. Then she might determine what she could do or say that would give Lizzy true comfort.

***

Elizabeth finally dried her tears and turned to face her sister.

“Jane, something must be done about Lydia. I fear she will do something that will ruin all of us one day. She has no regard for the possessions of others, particularly those of her siblings. The other day she even went into Mama’s bedchamber and dabbed on some of her expensive perfume without repercussion. Mama simply told her to ask in the future. But…but Lydia made a face at her when she walked away. Even if Mama had seen her, I’m not sure she would have chastised her.

“Her conduct at the assembly this evening was so embarrassing. Lady Lucas and Mrs. Goulding were glaring at her most of the evening as she laughed and flirted with John Lucas and his friends. When I asked Mama to make Lydia act like a young lady, she told me I was just jealous that the men liked Lydia better than me. Lydia’s lack of modest conduct didn’t even bother her. She said that Lydia’s flirtations would probably enable her to be among the first of us to marry. She even mentioned that flirting was how she first interested and then gained a proposal from Papa.”

Jane grimaced, then asked, “But what would you suggest?”

“We need to speak with Papa. We must get him to see that unless Lydia is brought under control, she is liable to do something that will hurt the entire family. With the militia coming to Meryton, the town will be full of red coats, and I dread to see how she will behave with a bunch of young men. You know she has proclaimed that she will be the first to marry, and I fear that the scandal of an elopement would not even begin to stop her determination to do so.”

“Should we speak with him tonight? I’m not sure if he has retired as yet.”

Elizabeth shook her head. “No, he has not. The light in his library was still visible when we arrived. Let me wash my face, and we can go see if he is willing to do something.”

***

When Mr. Bennet said ‘come’ to their knocking on his library door, Elizabeth and Jane entered and sat in the chairs before his desk.

“Papa, will you discuss Lydia’s conduct with us?”

With a sigh of resignation and a nod of his head, the patriarch of the Bennet household acquiesced to Lizzy’s request. “What do you desire that I do?”

“First of all, I must mention that I was disappointed that Lydia was not made to stay home tonight. Instead of standing firm, you allowed her to attend anyway. Why, Papa?”

Bennet squirmed with embarrassment at being gently chastised by his second eldest daughter. He was not oblivious to his lack of determination, but he was also mindful of the misery Mrs. Bennet put him through before the assembly and would inflict upon him for the next few days if he had stood his ground about Lydia remaining at home.

Years ago, when Lydia was in the nursery and getting her own way with tantrums that included screeching or destroying her toys until her other sisters would leave the house because of the noise, Mr. Bennet has just turned the disciplining of his youngest over to his wife. That resulted in a more peaceful state in the home but didn’t guarantee that Lydia’s conduct in public was acceptable. The Bennet family was unaware that their neighbors and friends throughout Meryton worried that Lydia might one day do something that would embarrass the Bennet’s or ruin the family entirely.

“Lizzy, what do you suggest that I do? If I put my foot down and demand that Lydia obey me, she just ignores me and does what she wishes anyway. When I set forth a punishment for her rebellion, her mother takes her side and encourages her to do as she pleases in spite of my authority as her father and head of this household. Your mother and Lydia both ignore any mandates I endeavor to exercise. Without Mrs. Bennet’s backing, I am unable to be the leader in my own home. What little I am able to achieve is only with threats to cut or totally eliminate pen money.”

He hung his head in shame and wrung his hands. Jane and Lizzy were unaware that he had tried everything he could think of for several years until he finally gave up the fight. He had accomplished nothing.

“Well then…we must consider Plan B.”

“Plan B?” said Jane.

“Plan B?” her father echoed. Then he asked, “What is Plan B?”

“Papa, I need to work out the details of Plan B. However, I need your permission to implement it.”

“First, I need to know what it consists of. I’ll not sanction anything that will hurt the family.”

“I promise it will not, but it might get the point across.”

Mr. Bennet frowned. He knew that his second eldest was the most intelligent of his offspring. He also knew that she could also be the most daring, second only to his youngest, and he had twinges of intrepidation that Lizzy’s Plan B might unsettle the entire Bennet household. That, he was not sure he would allow as he treasured his peace and quiet. Therefore, his library was his hideaway and not available to anyone without permission. To give her permission to experiment with bringing order to his household, he would have to consider it for a while.

“Lizzy, let me think about your offer. I will let you know my decision in a day or so.”

“But, Papa…”

“No buts, Lizzy. I will let you know if I agree to your Plan B.”

“Very well. But please make it soon. The militia arrives in three days. We need to do something before then.”

Mr. Bennet just grunted in response and waved his daughters out the door, closing and locking it behind them.

Not a word passed between Elizabeth and Jane as they slowly ascended the stairs to their bedchamber.

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14 COMMENTS
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DarcyBennett
DarcyBennett
June 17, 2022 8:23 PM

I’ve considered writing but feel that it’s something I will wait to tackle once I am retired. Thanks for the suggestions.

Colin Rowland
AuAu
June 12, 2022 10:04 AM

If I had to describe this too short excerpt in one word, that word would be intriguing. I want to know, what is Plan B? I’m interested in finding out what she has come up with. Hopefully Lydia learns a valuable lesson, one that stays with her.

Glynis
Glynis
June 12, 2022 9:52 AM

Come on Mr Bennet! You obviously have absolutely no control over either Lydia or Mrs Bennet so just go with Plan B whatever it is! It certainly can’t be any worse than allowing Lydia to continue stealing and getting her own way all the time.
Now if you could just give me a little hint as to what Plan B entails? I often struggle sleeping without worrying about what this will be?
Any ideas on publication date?

Kirstin Odegaard
AuAu
June 8, 2022 1:27 PM

Thanks for this writing advice!
And interesting excerpt with the intriguing Plan B. Nice to see Elizabeth taking the reins and gaining some control over her family’s future. Very interested to see what new paths this takes the story to.

Shana Jefferis
Shana Jefferis
June 6, 2022 12:53 PM

Gianna,

The possibilities are delicious! Real punishment? A stern governess? Sending Lydia away to school? Sending Lydia (and Mrs. Bennet) back to the nursery without any pin money whatsoever? Keep the excerpts coming!

I loved hearing your advice to aspiring writers and wish you would include more on publishing a finished work. Not all new authors struggle with the writing, but rather the business end of things.

Thanks,
Shana

J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
June 6, 2022 9:41 AM

Thanks for sharing your advice on writing. That was very interesting. Now… the excerpt. Plan B? Oh, you have temped me terribly. Until I read this, I’ll probably bite my nails down to the quick. I doubt I’ll have a good night’s sleep wondering what the heck is Plan B. If it comes from Elizabeth… oh-my… I imagine it is a good one. Oh, Lydia. Your elder sisters have a plan for you. I can’t wait to read this. Way to go Lizzy. It’s too bad they have to use a cattle prod to provoke their father into action. GRRR! Blessings on this new work.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
June 6, 2022 8:25 AM

Great excerpt! Can’t wait for more!

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