Recently, I was approached by an emerging writer who opened her correspondence with something to the effect of: I don’t have money but I need a comprehensive editing package. My last editor was more interested in taking my money than fixing my book.
I can empathize with this writer: she’s hungry to get her product into the marketplace and believes her work experience qualifies her to be a NYT Bestseller. But, as most of us who have tried our hat at creative writing after careers in journalism, academia, technology, etc. have learned, writing fiction requires a different skillset.
Writers are fortunate to have resources available to help save costs while honing their craft. Through the Internet, we can take master-level courses in creative writing and storytelling, grammar, and all points in between at little to no cost. I have personally completed the Creative Writing Specialization through Coursera.org and found it to be one of the best learning experiences I’ve had to date. There are also local workshops hosted by writing groups and universities such as this one in my corner of the world: The Apprentices: Free Creative Writing Workshops at Northwestern University. On social media and apps like Meetup or Scribophile you can join face-to-face or virtual writing groups.
Also, there are literally oodles of books about writing available for free through your favorite eReader bookshop, and don’t get me started on the tens of thousands of titles on Kindle Unlimited alone! And, don’t forget about your library where you can rent ebooks and audiobooks as well.
All of these resources can help writers — newbies and veterans — gain a better command of their craft. This legwork is done so you can save time and money when you reach the editing stage of the publishing process.
As an editor, I hope you’ve used your time wisely and sought advice from early readers and writing partners. I don’t like to have been the only other voice at this stage of the process.
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” Stephen King On Writing
What King means is, tell yourself the story in the first draft. Let it rest. Then collaborate to make your story more real through the help of trusted crit partners. Give your manuscript another thorough self-edit or two before handing it over to editors.
Also, check out this post about how to determine what kind of editor you need and how to combine services to save money without negatively affecting your manuscript. In the linked article are alternatives to costly editing tasks. Picking Editors: Can We Combine Steps…? Jami Gold has a terrific site chock-full of detailed guides and worksheets to help you tell your best story.
After you’ve done all that, give me a holler to discuss your publishing goals. firstname.lastname@example.org
Just a quick reminder that I am running my log-line class again. Often synopses are a nightmare for writers simply because they cannot state simply what their story is about. If we don’t know what our story is about, then revisions are hell because it is virtually impossible to discern what should stay and what should be CUT. Everyone who signs up gets their plot shaved down to ONE sentence, so hope to see you guys there! Sign up HERE. The recording is included and if you can’t make the day of class, I will still repair your log-line 😉 .
Which is more important? Plot or character? Though an interesting discussion—sort of like, Could Ronda Rousey take a Klingon with only her bare hands?—it isn’t really a useful discussion for anything other than fun. To write great fiction, we need both. Plot and characters work…
View original post 1,710 more words
“Fiction is the opposite of our human nature. Human nature is to avoid conflict at all costs. To write fiction? We must dive into the Miserable Messy head-first. Create problems at every turn (not mere “bad situations” but conflict).” Kristen Lamb
We all have motivations – the things that make us do what we do. But it’s not entirely uncommon (okay, it’s really common) for writers to not put enough thought into their characters’ motivations.
After all, motivation is easy right? Bad guys are motivated by evil. Good guys are motivated by good. Easy peasy.
Not so fast! Motivation is a vital component of a successful novel. Weak motivation can not only reduce the effectiveness of your story, it can completely ruin it!
The plot dictating the characters’ motivations is one of the worst things that can happen to your novel. You can write the most interesting twists and turns with a premise that has “bestseller” written all over it, but if the characters’ actions aren’t authentic, it will fall completely and horribly flat.
A lot of people believe that authentic actions come from well developed characters, but character…
View original post 1,456 more words
So here we are at our very first lecture for Novel Boot Camp! It only makes sense to start at the beginning – the very beginning – the first page of your novel.
If you follow my blog, then you know that I put a lot of stock in first pages. I provide free first page critiques every week in my blog series First Page Friday. I’ve probably written more about first pages and first chapters than anything else. And for a very good reason!
If your first page sucks, you’ve got nothing. Harsh? Maybe. But writing is a tough business. And because I’m an editor and love analogies, I’m going to compare it to another harsh business: the movie business.
Most aspiring writers think of their first page as the setup, the part of the novel that just gets things going, the calm…
View original post 1,781 more words
Today I want to start of series of posts on the forces that motivate characters, and I’d like to start with some reflections on topics that are often overdone, overemphasized, made cliche, or glossed over because they are such basic human emotions: love and hate.
I understand how cliche an author’s treatment of love and hatred can become in fiction. I understand it well enough that I feel like this post is a big risk. I worry that I can only give a cliche treatment of such a topic. So please bear with me. I think if we can cut through the cliche there’s a lot of consider.
The first thing that occurred to as a direction to take this post was the quote from BBC’s “Sherlock” that says:
Bitterness is a paralytic. Love is…
View original post 728 more words
Today we’re going to address a topic that—GASP—I don’t believe we’ve ever covered in almost 800 blogs. Namely because it is a tricky one to address. We’re going to talk about description. For those who never use description or very sparse description? Don’t fret. That’s just your voice. Readers like me who looooove description will probably gravitate to other books and that is OKAY.
Personally, I’m not a fan of austere modern houses with stainless steel everything and weird chairs no human could sit in and most cats would avoid, but? There are plenty of people who dig it. I also don’t like a lot of knick-knacks and clutter. Makes me want to start cleaning.
Same with books. Not too little or too much. Yeah, I’m Literary Goldilocks.
Plain fact? We can’t please everyone. Description (or lack thereof) is a component of…
View original post 1,839 more words