What better way to cure your Writer's Block, find inspiration, and master your first draft than to ask an author! Join author Ryan Krol as he dives deep into his writing experience and teaches you ways to master your first draft.
Thank you for joining the Author Blog Series. So far, I have interviewed writers such as Angela Anne, Danae L. Samms, Victoria McCombs, and more, discovering writing from different perspectives and giving insight to various processes of writing your book. Click here to read other interviews from the series.
Let's Meet Our Author
Ryan has been learning the craft of writing since he was in elementary school. While attending Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, Ryan majored in film. He also worked on projects at Chapman University. His experience has made him skilled in writing, story development, filmmaking, and photography. Ryan’s love for baseball also influenced his writing career, working for various websites.
In 2011, Ryan got together with his wife, and they are happily married. In that time, Ryan shed his film work to pursue the passion he had been craving since he was a kid: writing books.
Author Interview Questions
1. Were you a young writer, late bloomer, or something in-between? What could authors in a similar stage learn from you?
I began writing around the age of six.
I would write random little stories, and
would even tell my parents stories. In the second grade, my teacher had the
class write a story every Friday. Since my favorite cartoon at the time was The
Real Ghostbusters, I decided to make my own Ghostbusters series. I read each
episode every Friday, and they loved it. It was so much fun.
I would recommend that any writer who was able to tell stories at such a young age to ride with it, or tap into it if they’ve abandoned their writing since then. I consider it a gift, and I’ve
always been fascinated with just having that ability.
I steered away from writing in my early twenties. It was the struggles of a young adult having to learn it all on my own after my family lost everything due to my mother’s fight with
cancer. At a certain point in my mid-twenties, I thought about how rewarding my writing felt when I was a kid. So, I rediscovered it, went back to school, worked in film for a while, and now I’m doing what I always thought about doing, and finally did in my late thirties: write books. I have also received a lot of encouragement from my wife, who is also my biggest writing critic.
If anyone who ever experiences the same struggles, and had that gift as a child, just remember that there is a reason you have that. Stick with it.
2. What is the hardest kind of scene for you to write?
I outline as I go on the first draft, so once in a while I will run into scenes I have a hard time with. You can call it writer’s block. However, I don’t believe in that concept as much as other writers might, because I am certain the cure is in the outline, or the setup itself.
I just tear down the block by moving my fingers and fleshing out anything that comes to mind that’s relevant to the scene. Because I’m outlining at the same time. Often times, those difficult scenes are ones where I have characters just talking. These are the kind of get-to-know-you scenes, where we learn about the characters. I usually have issues with those scenes in the first draft.
3. How do you make the most of your drafts when starting a book?
Once I’m on to the second draft, I create a more detailed outline, and then, with more context available from a full draft everything smooths out; it becomes a lot easier to catch things and make changes. The final act can be difficult as well, but I don’t even outline the third act until the second draft. I think it’s pointless when I’m still exploring my story and my characters.
I need to get to know both as much as I can before diving into their resolutions. Because who am I to think I’ve earned those scenes at the end if I haven’t made the effort to hang out with my characters enough?
Earning scenes, by the way, is something I learned from listening to the commentary on The Lord of the Rings extended blu-rays. The filmmakers stress that, and I’ve taken that with me ever since. It’s all in the outline. I set up act one as much as possible. Being trained in film, I keep a close eye on my threads (character arcs and plot elements) as I go through the story. That’s what gets me through difficult scenes.
4. When writing your first draft, how conscious are you of
grammatical mistakes and other general errors? Do you want to
make your first draft as polished as possible to help you while editing, or do you prefer to focus on fleshing out the initial story?
In the first draft, it’s all an emotional outpour.
I generally have good grammar when fleshing things out, but I leave the rest for the editing stage. For me, it’s too distracting to worry so much about proper English, although I’ve always questioned what is really proper since I’m still looking for a comma in 1984 by George Orwell. Building code standards change over time, and so does proper English. But that’s a different discussion.
I mostly look at it like making a movie: shoot the coverage, and then find the proper cuts in the editing room.
5. What feeling do you want your audience to have after reading
I want them to have the same feeling after I saw Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time as a kid in the eighties. Perhaps even the relaxing feeling I had after seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
It felt complete, even though there were two sequels coming. Excitement, fulfillment, inspiration, and fun are the feelings I would like my readers to have.
It would be awesome to have a future writer become a novelist because of one of my books, the same way my favorite movies as a child made me want to be a writer and work in film. I prefer writing books though because screenwriting feels too constraining. Although, I would still jump on any offer.
6. It can be unbelievably challenging to write with a busy work schedule or as a parent. Even if neither applies to you, writing can too easily be put on the back burner for nearly anything . . . speaking of, isn't their laundry I could be putting away? How do you schedule time to write?
Despite my wife and I not having children, I still have a lot of responsibilities at home. I’ve always found myself helping others, such as friends and family.
With that, I schedule my writing in the morning and late at night. On my day off from my day job, I have a little more time and push my morning writing as far as I can go. On those days, I often do writing binges. Also, coming from film, I’m a fast writer.
I’ve written entire chapters in less than a day, so even if my writing schedule becomes tight, I can still get done what I need to on any given day.
7. What do you find to be the most demanding aspect of starting a book? How might authors overcome the challenge?
How to Master Your First Draft
I would say that getting that first draft down and building the world inside the book from scratch can be the most demanding aspect.
The storytelling part in general is easy for me. It’s fleshing out the fine details in the initial draft that can prove difficult. I pay close attention to relationships, plot threads, and devices, right down to clothing style, vehicles, and what characters watch on TV. All of that is relevant. It’s when I get to the second draft that the weight is off my shoulders, and then I have more context with which to add and omit.
To overcome any such obstacles, I recommend outlining the crap out of it. I outline as I go because I prefer to learn about my story as if I was a reader. But that’s just me.
It’s all in the outline:
Make a bulletin board with flash cards.
Write down your plot threads.
All of those things will be your go-to for solving any issues that arise, especially in the first draft.
Something so seemingly simple, yet absolutely vital has the power to change the potential of a book: Character Development.
How do you get to know your characters when writing your books to ensure they don't fall short of readers' expectations?
When I develop my characters, I do very little in the beginning to flesh them out. I give them a name, a profession, and determine their home life. That’s it.
I take the broad outline I’ve produced, and I dive into my first draft. It is in this draft where I get to those scenes where I introduce my characters, and I evaluate their life and their environment, and then I go from there.
As with the story itself, I learn about my characters as I go. Then, as mentioned before, I flesh out the fine details more in the second draft since by that time I have the foundation laid out, and I can see things more clearly.
On top of all of that, I bring my film training into it by making sure my central characters have clear arcs. Backstory depends on the story itself. I ask myself if I’m that interested.
Alien is a great example of one should not always depend on their characters’ pasts. The situation in that story showed us the depth of the characters, because it tested their limits and we saw what they would do to survive. In other situations, such as The Shining, we learn a great deal about the history of the characters. This is to establish what the entity haunting the hotel uses to get to Jack and his family. It all depends.
Just know what your story is, and how much readers need to know to arrive at the resolution at the end of your story.
Writing is a beautiful, yet intense craft. If you're nervous to take the leap and start, don't doubt yourself! Ask for support and guidance from your writing community, practice, and read books and articles like this.
If you’re wondering what you should write, and are stuck for some reason, I would recommend tapping into what inspired you as a child.
My whole life, especially when studying film, I would those stories about George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, taking the Saturday matinee serials they grew up watching in the nineteen-fifties, and bringing them to the writing table to create Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The aforementioned Alien is basically a collage of B science fiction from the fifties. It’s not even an original story. The design is what separated that film from the rest.
Right now, I’m reading The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. My father introduced me to the movie when I was about five years old. It had a great impact. When I’m figuring out story ideas, I put all of those stories I grew up with in a blender, and then I see what comes out of it on my end.
My debut novel, Syndrome, is a mix of The Andromeda Strain, Alien, The Thing, Ghostbusters, and The Goonies. The book I’m currently writing mixes Halloween, Friday the 13th, and The Evil Dead with The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en.
Explore the stories what made you want to become a writer, and you might find exactly what you’re looking for.
Discover the Book
Experience the thrilling debut novel from Ryan Krol.
Deep within the mountains of the remote Nevada Desert in 1957, an accident at an
underground research facility near a small town leads to a deadly discovery.
Dr. Sean Warner and his team of myth-chasing scientists are called upon to conduct a private investigation by the facility's philanthropist owner, Tom Sullivan. Knowing the potential dangers, this incident must be concealed from the government. Looking for anything to restore their reputations, Warner and his team don't know what they're getting themselves into. For something is waiting for them in the depths of the darkness.
Meanwhile, a group of mischievous kids snoop too close, thus endangering themselves,
as well as the safety of the entire town. If this thing gets out, many lives could be at
For more on the writing process from our bi-weekly author interviews, you can subscribe to my website for weekly updates: click here.