Following your passion in an insanely competitive country like India is almost a philosophical dream that not many are able, or even willing to pursue. And out of all such passions, the rarest of the rare is writing. Don’t get me wrong – everyone loves the idea of having the name on the front cover of a book. But that’s not passion. You’re passionate about something when you crave it, you strive for it, and if need be, fight for it!
And if you’re one of those crazy ones who decide to write books, 200-400 pages manuscripts, congratulations! The journey ahead is not an easy one, but the reward at the end is more satisfying than any other achievement in the world. The task of writing a book is colossal and almost feels impossible to accomplish.
However, life proves it time and again, nothing’s impossible. It just requires an extra effort. While I certainly feel that there are a few elements that every good story must have, there’s quite a lot that a writer needs to learn for being a compelling author.
I’m pretty sure, that if you are an aspiring writer, you would want to get some great advice to pen down that story you’ve nurtured for years, pass on the knowledge that you’ve gained throughout your life. And what better place to start than YouTube, isn’t it? The only problem is that the search result shows hundreds of thousands of videos at a time. If writing a book is a mammoth task, so is listening to all the videos in the search result.
To make your task a little bit simple, I have chosen four YouTube videos for aspiring writers that I feel will be extremely beneficial if you want to pen a book:
How to Write a Book: 13 Steps from a Bestselling Author – Jerry Jerkins
Writing is not all about passion and flair. It is also about a process, which requires humongous efforts to complete. If you have to spend several hundred hours in front of a computer screen, it’s better to have a well-defined procedure to complete your first draft. This is exactly what Jerry Jerkins talk about in this particular video.
And Jerry Jerkins is as legit as it gets! The old man has 190+ titles to his name, the majority of them being bestsellers. So, it is safe to say that he knows, and has lived, what he is talking about in the video. Jerry covers almost every technical aspect that a writer must ensure before and during writing their first manuscript.
What makes Jerry’s video stand out is the fact that he is so calm and clear. A lot of people tend to rush through things, which makes their content more complicated than it actually is. You almost don’t realize that the video is over 17 minutes long, that’s how interesting it is.
If you’re looking for some advice on preparing yourself, you must definitely not miss this one!
How to Write an Award-Winning Bestselling First Novel – Nathan Filer
Writing a novel is quite a private affair, and to speak about it requires someone who is ready to share his/her privacy. That’s what the author of The Shock of the Fall does in this video. Nathan Filer is one of the nicest people that you can take advice from. He speaks what he genuinely feels, without any filers or filters. In this particular Ted Talk, he narrates his journey of becoming a critically acclaimed author, from a depressed mental health expert.
Nathan gives us a first-hand experience of the feelings, emotions, and challenges a debut author faces. He takes us through from the phase where one figures out his/her passion for writing to the phase when he/she actually puts his passion on paper. What makes this particular video unique and a must-read is the fact that Nathan doesn’t make any false promises. He is as truthful as death, and yet, at the end of it, you will have a smile on your face.
What you can learn from this Ted Talk is that you’re not the only one that’s facing those problems. Every first-time author has gone through them. All that you need is to be easy on yourself and find happiness in what you do. Don’t forget to take note of the useful tips!
The Clues to a Great Story – Andrew Stanton
When you’re ready to begin, with all the tips and tricks in your mind, you just need to keep one thing in mind – “I have to make my story interesting.”
Storytelling is an art that can make a good story great, and a great story boring. However, all it takes is careful observation of your craft to become an exciting storyteller. Here’s where this great Ted Talk by the legendary writer/director, Andrew Stanton shines. It makes you realize what it takes to be a compelling storyteller, which makes it my favourite of all YouTube videos for aspiring writers I’ve come across.
He starts with a simple narration, and within the very first minute, you know what great storytelling is! That’s the sheer greatness of the man behind John Carter, Finding Nemo, and many other great Disney wonders. Listening to Andrew’s perspective can open up the doors of imagination you need to make your story more enjoyable to the reader.
As he says, “Storytelling is joke telling”, it is really about how much your readers enjoy it. The more they enjoy, the more they invest themselves in it. For instance, an important point he makes is that you can engage the readers more by making the plot not too easy for them. This not only compels them to stimulate their brains to get a hang of it but also delivers immense pleasure when they get it!
Why Books Are Rejected (By Literary Agents & Editors) – Meg LaTorre
Getting a literary agent or a deal with a publishing house is arguably the most difficult task for a debut author. Almost every author receives several rejections before getting his/her darling manuscript through. While there’s a certain amount of luck involved in the selection, authors often make avoidable mistakes in submissions that turn the agents off.
In this particular video, former literary agent and editor Meg LaTorre discusses the reasons why agents reject the majority of submissions. She doesn’t mince words and gets pins you down with her candid dissection of your work. However, it’s extremely helpful to have someone pointing out your mistakes beforehand, rather than embarrassing yourself after submissions.
Meg digs deep citing 24 reasons for rejecting a book, which covers pretty much every reason there can be. And through the video, she speaks about a number of key concepts every writer must be aware of, like character agency, character archetypes, pacing, author platform, and more, with links to each of them in the description.
She also emphasizes the importance of choosing the target audience, which most debut authors seldom think of. Other significant aspects Meg touches on include the ideal length of the novel, and query letters, explaining each of them in detail.
This List is Just a Suggestion
These YouTube videos for aspiring writers are based on my own observation and experience, and this is in no way an exhaustive list. However, I would also like to suggest that no matter how many videos you see or blogs you read; never change the story you want to tell. You can amend the ways to tell it but never compromise on the essence of it. No one else except you understands it, so, no one else can tell you whether it’s good enough or not. That said, avoid taking too much ‘inspiration’ from existing stories or getting carried away by the trends. All you need is a good observation, enough research on the subject matter, and decent writing skills, that’s it!
Noman Shaikh is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bombay Reads. He grew up in Mumbai, a city he loves more than any other, and currently works as a content consultant. His expertise lies in creating high-quality academic and marketing content in the form of blogs, articles, op-eds, etc. Noman has worked with reputed brands, including Economic Times (through Spiral Media), Coinbase (through MattsenKumar), AdEngage, Della Group, GBIM Technologies, VAP Group, etc. For his published portfolio, click here. Contact Noman on noman@bombayreads for engagement.