Mark Dellandre: On Writing

Mark Dellandre is a senior Meteorology major here at MU. He recently published a novel titled “The Entropy of Knowledge” with his co-author Britton Learnard. Read about Mark’s writing process and his rules of writing in the following essay.

My debut novel, “The Entropy of Knowledge,” went up for sale last week. It’s a unique blend of science fiction and humor, with an emphasis on humor. It tells the timeless tale of “boy meets girl, boy’s village gets invaded by aliens, boy leaves girl and sets off for the stars in a stolen spaceship, boy meets giant-eyeball girl.” Y’know, that same old story.

Interestingly enough, this book started out as a bet between me and my co-author, Britton Learnard. We were hanging out together one night—drinks may have been involved—and kept telling jokes to one another. One of us—I forget who—suggested that we write all of our jokes down, and try to form them into a novel. So, then the bet was made, and we worked hard to bring that novel to the public.

The first rule of writing that I followed is one that seems self-explanatory, but it might be the hardest rule of all to follow: write the book YOU would want to read. That may sound very simple—almost too simple—but anybody who’s ever put pen to paper knows how difficult it really is. Everybody’s tastes are different, and it can be hard to trust your own storytelling power. That’s okay. Keep working at it; eventually, everything will fall into place.

Mark Dellandre (Photo Credit Sara Housseal)

The next advice isn’t any easier, but it needs to be understood. Know what you want to get out of writing. If it’s a personal hobby, and you never have any plans to do more than collect your thoughts, that’s fine. If you want to try and become a career author, that’s fine too. If you DO want to have a career in the writing field, then you should treat it as such. Writing a novel is hard. It’s work. You have to put in the effort. Usually, I try for 500 words a day, 5 days a week. Other people might shoot for 1000 words a day, or even 100. That’s okay. The point is to get yourself into a rhythm of writing almost every day, whether you want to or not. Being an author is a commitment, it’s a full-time job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love what you’re doing.

Finally, the hardest thing to accept is the simple fact that your first draft won’t be expert quality. Nobody’s first draft is perfect. That’s okay! Write it down anyway. Trust in your future self to clean everything up in subsequent drafts. And most importantly, don’t stop to edit anything until you’re done a full draft. That made seem hard—and at times impossible—but I can’t tell you how many stories never see the light of day because the author wants to make the first draft as perfect as possible. Don’t fall for that trap. There will be time to fix mistakes later. For now, work on finishing that first draft.

Oh, and Go Marauders!

Read a free sample of my book here, at

-Mark Dellandre