“Revision is your friend. Nobody writes a perfect first draft. It’s in the rewrites where you turn an ordinary story into something special. Don’t be so in love with your words that you’re afraid to cut them. If they don’t serve the story, they have to go. It doesn’t matter how beautiful they are or how hard you worked to make them perfect. An author has to be fearless, unafraid to slash their work with a red pen. It’s part of the process. Personally, I enjoy the rewriting stage. The story is written, but it’s at this point where you get to refine your ideas, catch your mistakes and polish your manuscript.”
Archive for 'Romance'
“One of the most important things I’ve learned during my years trying to get published is that things in publishing happen very fast or very, very slowly. Sometimes I was so keen to follow up on a lead or a request that I’d forget to take a deep breath, read through my work one more time, and properly research who I was sending the manuscript to. I’m sure most of us have done that. We’re so keen to be published that we treat it as a sprint rather than the marathon a writing career really is. I’ve learned to take my time. Editors and agents are horrendously busy people so it’s worth waiting until your manuscript is as good as you can get it at that point in your writing experience, before you send it out. They usually won’t notice if you take that extra week.”
“Figure out what kind of story you want to tell and stick to it. Cross too many genre barriers and the booksellers won’t know where to shelve you. Begin as you mean to continue. If you start out with snarky comedy, don’t end up with a chainsaw toting serial killer. Remember the movie Fargo? It was both hysterical and horrific. And confusing. A reader doesn’t like those sorts of surprises. If you’re naturally drawn to dark, angsty tales, don’t try to add humor. If wit fizzes out of you like a shaken soda, don’t try to write a serious story. Stay true to your own voice.”
“Don’t worry about the distractions. I don’t mean telling the kids not to interrupt your writing time unless there is fire or blood. I mean the writing-borne distractions. Don’t spend your time worrying about the perfect opening line or scene, the perfect title, the perfect market… Don’t spend your time worrying about which genre fits your book best. Don’t spend your time editing and rewriting what you’ve got done. Leave all of that until the fist draft is done and then go back and do those things. While you’re allowing yourself to be distracted by the nits that you don’t need with an early draft, half the book could already be written.”
“Celebrate everything. Probably seems like a strange writing tip, but in this business we take a lot of knocks and hard hits. It’s important to keep your spirits up, and one way to do that is to keep a bottle of champagne (or whatever you celebrate with) handy at all times. I always keep a bottle of champagne chilled, and I’ve done it since before I was published. If you’re aspiring to be published, celebrate every milestone — finishing the book, sending off your first query letter, getting your first manuscript request, finaling in your first contest, etc. If you are published, celebrate getting your first cover, your first release day, getting your first great review, making your first foreign sale…and then keep on celebrating everything. More foreign sales, more covers, more contracts, hitting lists…everything. There is so little in this business that we can control…so we need to grab every opportunity to celebrate and remember why we’re writing!”
“The best tip given to me when I started my writing career is…BE PROFESSIONAL. From your first query letter to your follow-up thank you that you send after receiving a rejection. Publishers, editors, and reviewers will remember how professional you acted. You want them to know that you take your job seriously. Remember: You want to leave doors open. Don’t give them a chance to slam the door with diva-like behavior.”
“My advice is to give yourself permission to suck when you’re generating the first draft. You can worry about making it beautiful and flawless in revisions, but the first draft isn’t meant to be perfect. I know if I don’t give myself permission to write dreck, my overachiever tendencies will kick in and I will spend all my time revising and rewriting that first chapter, never getting out of the starting gate. So instead I braindump the entire first draft onto the page, fully expecting it to be unreadable. And strangely enough, when I start revising, I often find it needs much less fixing than I thought it would.”
“My best advice if you’re starting out is sit down and write a whole book from page one to the end. That will teach you more than anything else, wonderful as the resources available to a writer are. Don’t listen to the siren call of a new idea when you hit the doldrums. Keep plugging on until you finish that manuscript. Then put the book under the bed for six months and write something else. Only then come back to edit the first manuscript – you’ll be amazed what writing a second manuscript has taught you. The other benefit of putting your work aside for an extended period of time is that you can see mistakes more easily once you’re not quite so close to the story.”
“My advice is to keep hope in the mail ie. always have more than one submission out with editors or agents at a time. If you receive a rejection, this means you’ll still have another submission to pin your hopes on, and it will cushion your disappointment about the rejection.
During my pre-published days I found the hope in the mail method worked well for me. I entered contests. I submitted manuscripts to editors and agents. I worked out a plan for each manuscript, and if I received a rejection, I’d evaluate the feedback and move on to the next part of my plan. Since becoming published, I still adhere to the hope in the mail method as much as possible. Having more than one submission floating around really does help cushion disappointment if you receive a rejection.”