As an editor and proofreader, I have the opportunity to read quite a few first attempts by aspiring writers. I can absolutely relate to having a story to tell, to having characters take my brain hostage until I agree to set their story down on paper. At the time, it might seem that my only choice is to comply or go crazy. That’s how compelling and/or desperate the urge can feel.
So I applaud all of you newbie writers. I applaud you for having the guts to actually do this; to fight the doubts, the fears, the second guesses, and write your story down. Many people feel they have a book in them; only a fraction of them actually start to write. Of those, only a fraction of those finishes the book. And, of those, only a fraction commit to getting the book published. If you’re still with me, you’re in a very small, very special minority. Congratulations.
However, there is one tiny little fly in the ointment. Continue reading “Newbie Writer Mistakes”
Many of you have no doubt heard the infamous quote by William Faulker, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” If you haven’t, or you don’t understand this, it means that in our writing, we authors at times may inject characters, scenes or story elements because WE like them, not because the story demands them. I’ve certainly battled this myself. In a recent book I was writing, I had an idea to stick an Airedale in there. I have an Airedale, love them to pieces, and I thought I could write one in just for kicks. I fully intended to, knowing from the get-go that it had nothing to do with the story and was just a bit of fluff that served no purpose except I liked it. Well, the story unfolded, I wrote the whole book and, guess what? No Airedale. There was no place for it in the story. Oh, sure, I could go back and shoehorn it in; I could jam it in there somewhere. But the story didn’t call for it. The story didn’t demand it. Ergo, no Airedale. Continue reading “Why Can’t Writers Kill the Little Darlings?”
Some of you may remember my post a while back about handwriting my books. It’s a habit that has served me well, and I’ve just finished my fourth book written this way: legal pads and slant-tipped sign pens. I have no way to prove quantitatively that writing this way promotes my creativity, but it would certainly seem to. Never before have I written four books in only thirteen months. But that could be a fluke, right?
When I began this handwriting journey, as soon as I had transcribed the words from the pad to the computer, I tossed the pad into the recycle bin. The text was safely embedded in Word; I didn’t need the handwritten words any more. It was my husband’s idea that I save them. For posterity, he said. Yeah, like anyone’s going to care, I thought, but I did start saving them. Then, with my last book, I got another idea. I wrote down the date I started each pad. I had always taken casual note of how long it took me to write a book, sometimes nine months, sometimes three, but I never clocked it exactly. This time, when I finished the book, I actually figured out the word count of each pad and using the dates, calculated how many words a day I was writing. Continue reading “How Fast Do You Write?”
So you’ve poured your life’s blood onto the paper and you’ve got a book you think is good. What’s your next step? Most likely, finding an editor. Lucky for you, IU has an extensive list of steps you could take and ways you can find the help and support you need. But giving your “child” over to an editor is a scary prospect. What if they don’t like it? What if they say you’re no good? I know; been there, done that. You’ve put your heart and soul into this and now you’re going to hand it over to someone who might well tear it to shreds. It’s frightening. But necessary. Here are a few things to remember that might make it a little easier for you. Continue reading “Editing — Not for the Faint of Heart”