What it takes to become a novelist

Job description: writer

You dream of writing books and making a lot of money from them. Great idea! But what do you actually need to become a writer? Is there any training? And where do the ideas come from? GEOlino.de asked around for you

Everyone ends up writing differently

An old witcher who has dedicated himself to black magic and thus terrifies his home village. Is that the stuff good books are made of? Wolfgang had his doubts. It was his grandfather, Josef Häusler, who told him the story and started to write it down. Wolfgang thought the story was nice - nothing more. He would never have thought he would write a book about the old witcher himself. But then everything turned out differently: Grandpa fell ill and asked his grandson on his deathbed for a favor: Wolfgang should finish writing the book about the witcher - the book about Geigermartl.

You are never too young or too old to write

At that time Wolfgang was 24. Too young to be a writer, do you think? Because of: Children's horror book author R. L. Stine was only nine when he started typing little stories on the typewriter and handing them out at school. The fact that the teachers kept collecting his masterpieces didn't bother him. "Märchenmond" author Wolfgang Hohlbein also wrote his first novel at the age of ten. But there are also writers who only discover their passion for writing later. One example is Cornelia Funke. On her homepage she reveals that as a child she wanted to become an astronaut or a pilot. So it happened that she was already 35 when she turned to writing.

Research on site ...

"Maybe it was fate," says Wolfgang today. He wanted to grant his grandfather's wish, although he had enough on his mind with his political studies and work as a journalist. That is why he spent the weeks and months after his grandfather's death in his home village in Bavaria. The goal: to find out as much as possible about the old Geigermartl and his magic arts. Who was the witcher? Did he have a family? Who could remember him? Wolfgang visited the old landlord in the village, asked the farmers and gathered every scrap of the magician from the villagers. In the evening he drove to see his grandma. And with Kaiserschmarren and cocoa, put the individual pieces of the puzzle together to create a picture.

... in books or in your own imagination

Not all writers work like that. Some spend weeks and months in archives and libraries to find out as much as possible about their subject. Others surf the internet. And still others just make up a story. For example Karl May. He wrote his Indian books, although he was never in the Wild West. Everything he knew about cowboys and redskins came from books, travelogues, or his imagination. The books are still great. R.L. Stine has his trick to come up with creepy ideas for his books. He just wonders what he was afraid of as a child and tries to put it into words.

Many roads lead to the book

So everyone has to find their own way to come up with a great story. Wolfgang, too, gradually discovered the life of Geigermartl. He was even able to get hold of a few photos. However, Wolfgang doesn't like to call himself a writer. He could definitely do that. Unlike "architect" or "office clerk", writer is not a protected professional title. That means: Anyone who wants can call themselves a writer.

Can I learn to be a writer?

So it is only logical that there is no specific training to become a writer. Many authors have simply taught themselves to write. Others study at universities or academies, attend courses or read books. However, you should be careful with offers such as "Your own book in 30 days". First of all, the schools that offer such "courses" earn money. And there are a lot of black sheep here. So it is worthwhile to find out more before registering. You're in good hands at the German Literature Institute in Leipzig. Since 1995 there has even been a course for writers only - with an examination and diploma.

And do I get rich?

Nobody can count on getting rich as a writer. That is why Kai Meyer, the author of the "wave runner" triology, pondered for a long time until he decided to quit his job as a journalist and only write books. Meyer was lucky. His books were selling better and the fees rose. Communication designer Jörg Hilbert, on the other hand, knows what it feels like when nobody wants your book. At first it looked as if no publisher wanted his "Ritter Rost". The book manuscript disappeared into the drawer for now. It was only when Hilber came up with the idea of ​​making a children's musical out of the book that a publisher was found to publish the knight.

Perseverance is the order of the day when it comes to writing

"Of course I was also afraid that nobody would want to read my book," says Wolfgang today. "But I had promised my grandpa." Fear is stupid anyway. It blocks you when you write. And even if a book doesn't hit the ground running right away, there's no reason to hang your head. After all, Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" was initially a flop. The Hobbit saga only became the "Book of the Century" over the decades. Plus, you don't have to be the best writer in the world to get your books read. Only you can tell your story. Much more important is that you have plenty of stamina It's a bit like a professional soccer player. His crosses and headers can be as good as they want if he doesn't have the stamina to last 90 minutes of a game. The good news: You can train your stamina.

If you want to write, you have to read!

R. L. Stine has one more piece of advice for anyone wanting to become a writer: "Don't worry too much about writing. Just read as much as you can. Read as many different writers as you can and try to absorb their styles." And Andreas Eschbach reveals on his homepage: "Having fun is the most important thing. If you don't enjoy writing, you shouldn't do it."

Wolfgang also had a lot of fun and while writing he not only learned a lot about the witcher, but also got to know his grandfather's village and its inhabitants from a completely different perspective. And if he looks in the direction of the bookcase today, he sees the little green book there. "The Geigermartl by Josef Häusler and Wolfgang Spang" is written on it in white letters. And although Wolfgang would never admit it: he is a little proud of it.

Links on the subject:

Association of German Writers: www.verband-deutscher-schriftsteller.de

More information about Cornelia Funke: vbreitrein.layer2.de/projekt01

More information on R. L. Stine: www.scholastic.com/goosebumps/books/stine

More information about Kai Meyer: www.kaimeyer.com

German Literature Institute Leipzig: www.uni-leipzig.de/~dll