Magic Writing Formula

In line with my series of writing and editing posts, today I’d like to present my online critique partner, Ken Rahmoeller, who writes fan fiction in the universe of – well, you’ll see.

After cutting so much of my book, I became a word miser and Ken’s been helping me flesh out my story again. He’s also been a great help to me in getting my story structure in shape. Naturally I became curious about what made him decide to write. So I asked him to explain. Read on, and see if this might happen to you.

Okay, Ken, you’re on!


Based on the stories I’ve found on the blogosphere, most writers knew they wanted to be writers at an early age. Sometimes, apparently, even before they were out of diapers. As someone who is struggling to write their first book, I find this a tad disheartening. Why?

Because I spent most of my life hating the very thought of writing.

I disliked my English composition class. I felt having to write a thesis as a requirement to my Ph.D. was a cruel form of torture. And writing papers for publication in scientific journals is like pulling teeth. It’s not that I hate words, mind you. It’s just that even when I know exactly what I want to say when I sit down to write, grabbing hold of those ideas whirling around in my brain and slapping them down onto paper just doesn’t come naturally to me.

But two and a half years ago I discovered how much fun it is to write fiction. And that has made all the difference.

So what was my path to becoming a writer? Here’s a quick synopsis:

1. Several years ago, depressed at the thought there would be no more Harry Potter books, I ponder how Rowling might go about writing another series of books based on her magical universe.

2. Ideas for this imaginary book pile up inside my head. It’s nothing more than a thought exercise at this point, but soon I have so many ideas, I’m forced to write them down or risk losing them. To my surprise, I find putting the ideas onto paper makes them feel more real.

3. I start arranging these ideas so as to form a coherent short story. The idea of writing a book is the farthest thing from my mind.

4. I discover that plotting story lines, inventing subplots, and developing characters are all incredibly addictive activities. I now have too many ideas for a short story and the WIP evolves into a full length book. Despite all this progress, I still have trouble finding words that adequately describe what I see in my mind’s eye. I wonder if I can pay someone to take my first draft and write this book for me.

5. I learn everything I can about writing. Follow every writing blog I find (well over 100 at present). Buy books on the craft of writing. Learn about concepts like story structure, showing versus telling, dialogue tags, passive versus active, etc. My writing improves by leaps and bounds. My enthusiasm rises exponentially. I still search desperately for that one magical book that will reveal the secret of how to convert the ideas I have into publishable prose.

6. Fearful my wife is going to think I’m crazy, I finally tell her I’ve decided to write a book. A book I can’t sell because it’s fan fiction. She is amazingly supportive. Probably secretly thinks I’m crazy.

7. I still haven’t finished the first draft of my book, but ideas for new books begin to present themselves. I make lists so I can start on them as soon as my current WIP is finished. Begin googling “life extending drugs” so that I will have time to write all these books.

8. I find some critique partners, thanks to Rachel Harrie’s Platform Building Crusade. This is how I meet Sheryl. Because of my new CPs, the book continues to improve.

9. I finally come to grips with the realization that there is no magic bullet to putting words on paper. Just lots of time and hard work. And lots and lots of rewriting.

The moral of the story is that there is no single path to becoming a writer. Everyone has their own path. Just keep plugging away at it and never give up. If I can get there, then so can you.

I promise.

Thanks to Sheryl for allowing me to post on her blog today.

Okay, now that Ken spilled the magic beans, I wonder if you’re as surprised as I was that he had no more intention of writing than I did six years ago. Is there some weird chemical formula that only reacts with chemists? (Chemistry wasn’t my major, but I did minor in it.) Is it a magic spell cast by J. K. Rowling that makes everyone want to write? Or is wanting to write something children will love peculiar to parents?
If you’re a book lover, and you probably are or you wouldn’t be here, have you ever wanted to try writing? If so, is it a secret wish or have you told anyone? Now that you know you’re not alone, will you take action on your wish and work hard to make it happen? If so, don’t wait. I didn’t expect my children to grow so fast that by the time I get published my youngest would be too old to read my books. He already is, but I hope other children will enjoy them. You get my point, right? If you think you might like writing even a little, do it now.
If you’re hesitating, why not try to come up with some ideas for fan fiction like Ken did? Go on, check out the castle on his blog. It’s awesome! While you’re there, you might at well follow his blog to show your support. I’ve read the first of Ken’s book, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed when he publishes his first fantasy.
Now how about writing your own fantasy? You don’t need a fancy computer or any expensive writing program to start. Look what J. K. Rowling used.
You guessed it, a paper and pen, but even a pencil will do. Time’s a wasting!

It’s time now to try my Magic writing formula:

1. Think up an idea.
2. Write it down before you forget.
3. Practice writing daily.

If you can count to three, you can do this. So, what you waiting for? 

Now I want to tell you about my 600 follower contest. I’m giving away an ARC of Julie Kagawa’s latest book, The Immortal Rules, along with chocolate and more books from my collection. Just click the “Win chocolate and books” tab at the top of my blog. Good luck! Before you go, please take a minute to comment and tell us what you think. Thanks!

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. Great post. It’s never too late to become a writer.

  2. Hey! I know that guy 🙂
    Ken’s one of the good ones, I’m so glad he’s found critique partners, and he’s progressing.

  3. Thanks, Stephanie and Sarah. One can never have too many critique partners.

  4. Finally a person that puts some real work into a blog. I do like what you have done with the blog.

  5. I love this post. I love to write, but I guess I’m kind of a weird one. I write only for myself. I have notebooks and stacks of paper full of stories that I wrote during high school and college. The idea of someone else reading them scares me to death. I think I use it as an escape and a way to express myself, about the same way I use quilting.

  6. I thought I was weird for writing with good old fashioned pen and paper. Glad I’m not alone!!

  7. Thanks Stephanie, I agree that it’s never too late or I wouldn’t have started.

    Sarah, you’re right.

    Ken, I was in a group that had so many I couldn’t get any new writing done when the snowbirds arrived each winter, so it’s possible but not likely where you live.

    Lisa, I’m about to have a meeting with 4 other writers, 2 who have never showed their writing to someone else yet. You might surprise yourself if you let someone look at your work. Maybe an online partner to start.

    Katrina, isn’t it cool to have that in common with J.K. Rowling?

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