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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Robert H. Butler writes about his love of telling stories, how he creates characters, and his creative writing process.
Written by Robert H. Butler
Inspired To Write
My literary career began in the strangest of places. Back in early 2018 I was enamored with an anime/light novel series called ‘Overlord’. A villain protagonist who wasn’t automatically amazing at everything and had real insecurities and a relatable thought process even when he was being evil? Marvelous. I devoured the whole series and then ran tragically out of content. I then ventured into the world of fanfiction.
There are, I must say, some truly gifted authors of fanfiction who should have literary careers themselves, and… there was a lot that was bad. But one thing was missing.
The Overlord series demanded a war story, and none was forthcoming, one story seemed to promise it, but then the author seemed to just ‘chicken out’ of the monumental project and ended the story prematurely.
It was then that my life got its own plot twist. I was and am still in the Army Reserves, and I was activated for a year long mobilization to Fort Bliss where I served as an instructor for soldiers going overseas. We ran everything so well and so smoothly that I for the first time in a long time, had time on my hands. I was tempted by the siren call of video games… but instead a character nagged at me. She seemed to demand that I tell her story.
And instead of consuming, I started producing.
Starting To Write
I began to write chapters and post them to other fans, and my long buried love of writing was reawakened like a dragon from a slumber that had gone on for far too many years. I wrote with such relentless drive that I built up a reputation within the community over the course of the year until I completed the story on my birthday in 2019.
From there I wrote more, and more, and then began writing an original work. I launched a patreon and got support for my work, for ‘Scales of Trust’ I even created a completely original and fully functional language.
And the more I did, the happier I was.
Creation was my happiness. And it still is.
Along the way, my process was refined.
There are plotters and pantsers and hybrids who do a little of both when it comes to writing. Or for those not familiar with those terms, ‘Plotters’ plan the whole story. ‘Panters’ make it up as they go with a general idea of what will happen, and ‘Hybrids’ do a little of both. If I had to brand myself I guess ‘Hybrid’ would be the best descriptor.
I begin with a complete plot in mind, sometimes I write down a general outline that gets gradually more detailed, other times I keep it in my head. But one thing happens frequently and that is something I call ‘Character Rebellion’. At least one per novel, a character seems to almost ‘refuse’ to do what I want. I can write and rewrite the scene and it won’t work and it won’t work and it won’t work and… then I write something different. Something the character ‘wants’ to do. I’ve had rivals become lovers, heroes become villains, villains become heroes, none of whom were meant to be what they became. But in my process when character rebellion happens, I always let the character ‘win’ and get their way. I’ve never seen a story be weaker for doing so.
To keep myself focused I set appropriate instrumental music fitting whatever type of emotional scene I intend to write, and then with a cup of coffee close at hand and my door locked to avoid distractions, I do just that. I write until I’m done. Minimum daily acceptable production is three thousand words, average is five on days when I have other obligations, and when no obligations are present I produce closer to ten thousand words per day… but those days are relatively few, there always seems to be some business of living that needs my attention.
After I’ve written my work I move it to my beta folder (I use google docs to write) and I have a bot made by a fan which then takes the chapter and posts it to my author discord’s private editing channel where the beta readers are notified and can begin tearing into it.
I give it a readthrough and then the chapter is done. I typically produce multiple novels at once, and for those who are wondering, no this isn’t normal, I’ve just weaponized my ADHD to let me do multiple things and help keep myself from getting bored with anything, and thus I can enjoy everything.
After a few days I’ll release the chapter(s) to the public via discord, patreon, or more recently my subreddit, and sometimes do a teaser reading for my YouTube channel. I really don’t spend much time on marketing, just letting my work grow and spread by word of mouth, but I have done some work by writing in public spheres such as Royal Road and Scribblehub, which then link to my books on Amazon or to my Patreon to increase sales and revenue.
Passion For Writing
Honestly if I did not need money to survive, I would give everything away for free just so people can enjoy it, and never charge anybody anything. As it is, I do still give a great deal away since times are tough for a lot of people and free entertainment is rare, I rely on the generosity of those who can pay, to do so, and so far, none of them have complained that the poorer fans are getting things without paying.
I like to think it is some small credit to me that I’ve developed a hospitable and compassionate fanbase, but the truth is, it’s the people who make it up that make it work. Their encouragement, feedback, and happiness is all fuel for my creative fires, and I will keep doing this until I die, whenever that might be.
Though if I have any say in that, it’ll be in a few hundred years when I have run out of stories to tell. I guess we’ll just have to see about that, though.
Find more from Robert H Butler now:
Author central: https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Butler/e/B09C4TPV2B/
Author Discord: https://discord.gg/FwqrpAx
YouTube audio readings: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzY5dLZitYen7LiNkW1mmgQ
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