Today, I welcome Alicia Bien, comedy writer, performer and wine lover, to Daily (w)rite to dole out some writing advice, which she does in her humorous, chatty writing voice. Take it away, Alicia!
“I want to write a book about Mount Everest,” I said staring at the world’s highest peak on the television screen.
“Okay,” said my husband flipping through the TV channels.
“Or maybe I’ll write about midwifery in the Middle Ages.”
“Or the Big Bang Theory. Not the TV show but the actual theory.”
My husband was subtle but I knew what his hesitant “okays” really meant: Don’t touch those subjects with a 10-foot pole. Which was not to say these potential book topics were uninteresting, unmarketable or unenlightened. Rather it was his just his way of saying that yours truly didn’t know enough about any of them to write anything new without doing a decade’s worth of monk-like, committed research. This advice was writer’s gold. In fact, during the process of writing my book, Evolution of a Wine Drinker, several tips proved helpful.
1) Write what you love. Growing up in a small town I broke several bones and experienced a nasty car accident that left me nervous to drive for months. Yes, I “knew” these subjects but I didn’t want to immerse myself in their worlds to write a book about any of them. Instead I needed to write about something that I was passionate about. I’ve been drinking vino since I took a college course on it and to this day I still get excited discussing, decanting and drinking wine.
2) Embrace Structure. Books are like houses, they have a foundation and a structure that holds them up. I chose an alphabetical structure where each chapter focused on one element of wine that referred to a letter of the alphabet. The book starts with “Drinking Alone”, moves onto “Cool Chicks and Bottles”, then ends with “Zinfandel”. Once I had this A-Z structure, it clarified the path and let me focus on the exciting part: the writing.
3) Use your voice. As a head writer for a sketch show in Hollywood I dig writing comedy and dialogue and wanted to use these elements paired with my own comedic voice to write about wine. In this manner I could add something new to the canon of wine writing. Or at least have fun while doing it.
These gold nuggets of advice successfully guided me while writing my wine book. And I’ll be using them again on my next project, which just might be a book about The Big Bang Theory–the TV show not the actual theory!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alicia Bien’s book “Evolution of a Wine Drinker” is now available at Amazon.com. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and adopted cat. Visit the author online at her Blog and follow on at Twitter @aliciabien
Gosh sorry I forgot to reply to this. Thank you for coming into my blog, feel free to keep in contact as it would be great to read your work one day too. It is always good chatting to another person who shares similar interests. It would be great if I could do something with my writing though. That reminds me I must submit my assignment soon… just had to take a breather as I did a lot of research for it and just wrote up the draft recently. I look forward to hearing from you again. Have a great day too and sorry this a little late!!
I think the key is the old saying to write about what you know and love. The passion you feel for wine or crafting or vampires is evident to the reader. But it is easy to get distracted from our original ideas along the way.
Thanks for your follow-up. I loved your review of Julia Child’s “Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom”, it made me want to buy the book immediately! So you’re doing great work! Thanks for your words about my own writing. I’m working on another writing project now. Ahhhh, writing, it’s the best part of the day! Enjoy!
Thank you Alicia! I am now working on my research project. Please keep in touch! Best wishes from here in NZ. 😀
Hi Jemima Pett,
Thanks for reading and your comment. As a reader I think there’s nothing better than being in the confident, capable hands of a writer working at the top of their game. Keep writing what you know and have a great day!
I really enjoyed this… and I’ll continue to write about what I know because it’s so much fun!
Hi Jacqui Murray,
Ha-ha! Because you’re such a busy lady! What do you NOT do? Thanks for reading and your comment! Enjoy your day!
How did I miss you all these years?
Hi Rosie Amber,
Thanks for reading and your comment! It’s a pleasure to be here. I thank Damyanti for hosting me today!
Loved this interview, well done.
Hi Wilder Man on Rolling Creek,
Thanks for reading and your comment! I’ve found that some of the best readers are writers because, like you, they know what goes into making a story work. And that it’s hard work! And oh so fun! Happy writing to you!
Thanks for reading and kudos to you for writing! How wonderful to have those followers! What’s that quote from the Kevin Costner film FIELD OF DREAMS, “If you build it, they will come.” The movie was about baseball but it works for writing as well. If we write “it” in our voice and style, the audience will come to read “it”. Congratulations on your writing life and successes!
Hi Alicia, thank you for your encouraging words and that lovely quote from the film. I agree totally what you are saying and often when I write on my blogs I tend to just write as I type so nothing is scripted (the exception of my book review site as I do actually read it first and then add a bit here and there and sometimes quote what has been written to give a snippet of what to expect). Writing for me is a relaxing exercise and I love your page, Kudos to you too and I look forward reading more from you soon. Best wishes from the home of the Long White Cloud 🙂
I understand your dilemma. I love Hemingway but he is neither my contemporary nor funny. Since I want to write about my life and world now with a comedic twist, I have to write in the only voice I can, my own, no matter how scary it might be. I bet you have a lovely voice. We’d all like to hear more of it! Keep writing!
Hi Pieces of 8,
Of course you have a novel in you. And you will discover what it is. Perhaps it lies in something you know well–like William Faulkner’s small Mississippi town–or something that drives you–like an adventure at Machu Pichu and the Gringo Trail. Whatever it is, I can’t wait to read it! Dream big! Thanks for reading.
Outstanding piece, giving us some of your story, some of your insight from experience which can be gold depending on “Who / What / Where” … Keep writing. Appreciate you taking time to pass on some help.
Wise words and indeed little nuggets worth so much. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this today. I sometimes wonder whether my writing is all that it cracked up to be but then when I saw the number of people starting to follow my blogs I was like “oh my goodness, I must be doing something right”. When I am not blogging, working, or studying I am writing a story at the moment. I started it last year and I keep chugging away it, sharing it with others and enjoying what I am writing rather than making it a chore. Thanks so much again 😀
I think one of the hardest parts of writing my book has been getting over trying to write like my favorite writers and just using my own voice. Great advice!
Probably like every high school English teacher, I am convinced I have a novel in me. I just haven’t found out where. At least this helps me work out where it isn’t!