Robert J. Emery's Blog
I have had eight books published now—five were nonfiction—and I’m about to release number
nine. During my film and TV career, I authored screenplays, seven of which were made into
movies, as well as one-hundred and ten TV documentaries scripts. When I retired from active
production, I turned to writing novels, something I always wanted to do. I was certain writing
novels would be a slam dunk. I could not have been more wrong. The learning curve was
arduous. The first novel I wrote took me nearly five years to complete. The good news is that
novel turned out okay and has since won five book awards.
Here are a few things that I have learned along the way that have helped. When I introduce a
character, I describe in detail what they look like physically. I provide each with a distinct
personally no matter how large or small a role they play, along with a distinguishing
characteristic or quality that separates them from the others. It might be something small, maybe
quirky, but I think this is really important. The same with locations, I create strong visuals.
Since my novels always take place in the future (so far), I tend do a lot of research to make the
story believable. Yes, fiction calls for the suspension of disbelief, but I believe in creating stories
that could in fact become reality.
Now for that little trick that really turned me around. My latest effort, MIDNIGHT BLACK, is a
revised and expanded version of a novel I previously published before I had any idea what 2016
through 2020 would bring. Since my original story was about a near future society that was
paying the price for the mistakes we are making today, I was compelled to revise and update all
that we had gone through with the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, and certainly the
four years of political craziness. I wrote three drafts before I sent it off to my editor. When I
received her corrections and comments, I made them, then let the manuscript sit for a week. How
was I going to approach my final pass? If I did as I always do, I would be do a lot of rewriting.
That just me, write, rewrite, write, rewrite—it sends my wife, who reads all drafts, crazy. If I
could, I would write and rewrite forever and the book would never be finished or published.
Ah, eureka! I had a thought. Why don’t I just read it like it was some other author’s novel? As
simple as that sounds, we are too close to our material to be objective and it never occurred to me
to step back and see it as others would. But that is exactly what I did. I not only enjoyed the
story, but I realized the book was in fact done. I had finished my work and I had to let it go. A
few minor tweaks and corrections along the way and I sent it off to Indies United Publishing who
publishes my work. Now this is something I will do with all my future work. Of course, I can
engage beta readers, but as the author, I too have to step back and try to see it as others might. By
no means is it easy, we author’s love every word we write. But I found it actually works to read
it as a reader and not as the author. It worked for me.