One of the time-honored chestnuts of the writing profession is: “Write what you know.” The modern version trumpeted by bloggers worldwide is: “Write what you love.” If you’re here, that likely means writing about horses. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experience with horses, or just the heart of a horse-lover, you probably wonder where and how to get started writing what you love. Here’s a few tips to help you take those first few steps before you gallop straightforward into the writing world.
Joining a Great Blog Community
A curated and edited blogging community can be the best place to start. The good news is, you’ve already found one of the best available. Take your time to read Of Horse and learn what kind of stories resonate with others. Then click the Write for Of Horse link to sign up. That’s the first step towards sharing your stories with the rest of us, and now you face the writer’s greatest challenge: the blank page.
Take a deep breath and jot down your ideas. Maybe you’ve got an anecdote about training your favorite equine companion. Maybe you’d just like to share your experience with a tale we’ll never forget and wax rhapsodic about your favorite horse stories. When you’re ready to put “pen to paper” as they say in the literary world:
- Write your article in Notepad, Wordpad, Microsoft Word or Open Office, to keep it safe.
- Use headers to break up the content and enable readers to scan sections quickly.
- Remember that bullets are great for lists of instructions or guidelines.
- Upload an image and write a caption at the bottom of the article that says where it originated.
When you’re all done, allow your finger to hover over that Submit button for a few minutes. Take this time to proofread your story, aloud or quietly, and scan for typos or awkward phrasing. This is it. Once you hit that button, you’ll get a note back from the Of Horse team thanking you for your submission and a later note from the editors with valuable feedback or congratulations. Pat yourself on the back and get to thinking about your next great tale!
Crafting Nonfiction Stories
If anecdotes, advice or news stories (many of the things readers here absolutely adore) simply aren’t your cup of tea but you still want to recount true tales, consider the world of nonfiction stories. Short stories can range from 1,000 to 19,000 words, giving you all the space you need to regale readers with more than a brief anecdote or slice of your life as a horse fan. Nonfiction books can easily total 40,000 or more words, but remember to cite your sources if you’re writing the magnum opus of horse care.
One of the keys of nonfiction is to make sure you vary sentence structure and keep your readers interested. Remember to pace yourself accordingly when you start to write the big works of 1,000 words or more. Always take time to proofread, and share your work with others before submitting to publishers or agents. Even friends and family who are reluctant readers can deliver valuable insight. Take praise with a grain of salt and look hard at criticism to see where the errors lie. Thick skin is your friend; it sometimes takes the hide of a clydesdale to absorb the sting of early criticism.
Creating Believable Fiction
Are you the next Laura Ingalls Wilder? Have you got a yarn ready to challenge “Black Beauty” for its place as one of the best horse tales of all time? There are a million ways to go about creating believable fiction, and whether you’re writing for children or adults can make a big difference. Understand that writing is a labor of love and a work of skill. Your first attempts are like the first time you saddle up — you’re not likely to get great results if you try to gallop out the gate and leap the nearest fence, but it will happen eventually.
The best tip anyone can give you is to read. Don’t just read for enjoyment. Analyze the work of the greats. Discover what makes “Black Beauty” and “My Friend Flicka” timeless classics while other books never leave the shelves. Find what you like. Discover your style. Trust your test readers and revise, revise, revise. When all is said and done, your believable creative work will emerge. Sometimes, it takes a little extra effort to chase perfection.
There are a ton of cliches in the world at large, and many of them are tired old things that writers love to dust off and parade around like they’re a colt just getting its legs. Write what you love, never give up, learn to take criticism … these things can easily slip off the tongue, but like mastering riding or dressage, they often take months, years or even longer to perfect.
Don’t get discouraged, write for you, then consider the other readers. You may not be ready to give up your day job just yet (how’s that for cliche?), but if you’ve got the drive, the love and the sheer bullheadedness required … you’ll get there.