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Guest Blog Post: How to Write a Book by Kelly Hess

My name is Kelly Hess and I am an addict. My addiction? Reading those How-To-Write-A-Book books.

If you are a new and aspiring author, no doubt you will seek as much information as possible on the craft of writing. The good news is that there are dozens, hundreds, billions of books out there that will tell you how to write brilliant scenes, well-rounded characters, engaging stories, all with plots that twist and turn. Then other books will tell you how to publish your work and become a best-selling author and earn a million dollars.

But be warned. What they won’t tell you; the epidemic you won’t hear about on the evening news, are the dangers of using these books. I’ll tell you: It’s a pathway to addiction. I’m living the nightmare.

I don’t know why I’m so enamored with these books. They aren’t particularly exciting. Some of them are downright bad. But I keep going back to the well. One more hit. One more fix. It’s a vicious cycle.

Before my sickness, when I wrote my first novel, I jumped in blind, writing it just to have something to read to my son. He was five at the time, and I’d read to him every night since the day he was born. We were between books and I thought to myself – I used to like writing in school. I know what he likes. Well, before I knew it, I ‘d written a book. It wasn’t great. No first drafts are…ever. So I went out and bought a stack of  How-To-Write-A-Book books. And I read. That’s all it took.

With this new knowledge, I revised my manuscript which became my first novel, Eyes of the Enemy. Before writing my second book, I dove back into the pool and got a few more writing books. One was about writing a series. Soon, my first book became the first book in a trilogy, BlackMyst.

Now they’re all I read. And I have to ask myself: Am I trying to become a better writer? Or do I really just love reading How-To-Write-A-Book books?  Most likely, I’ve been searching for that mythical golden nugget of information that somebody out there must have. I’m seeking that invaluable tidbit that will tell me once and for all, how to write that best-seller.

Listen, I’m going to save you a fortune in book costs. The secret to writing is to write. Write whenever, however you can. Just like golf, sex, and video games, improvement comes with practice.

I’m not saying that these books can’t be useful. They can! Just be careful. And if you find yourself huddled under your covers late at night with your finger hovering shakily over the BUY button on your Kindle, preparing to purchase your thirty-fifth writing book, it’s time to admit you have a problem.

Go write! Then write some more.

Me? I’m going to check the mailbox. My new How-To-Write-A-Book book may have arrived. Just one more fix. I can quit any time I want.


Kelly Hess is an author of YA fantasy and science fiction and all things unreal. His childhood love of reading and gaming inspired him to write as an adult. Imagining new worlds and new creatures is one of his great joys as a writer.

Kelly began his writing career after a catastrophic brain aneurysm left him unable to work at the age of thirty-eight. Since then, he’s written five novels for young adults; all of which were typed with his right hand, due to the lack of dexterity on his affected left side.

Kelly currently lives in Northern California with his wife and son, where he is busily working on his next adventure.