New Author Tip: Warning – Do Not Publish that First Draft

This is really good advise, have a read, then you can check out other post on this PBS blog:

The PBS Blog

You’ve finished your book. This is admirable (because so many people never finish) and worthy of celebration. Congratulations!

But, while this is an accomplishment worth celebrating, you are not done. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.

A rule of thumb is that you do not publish a book you just finished writing. After you’ve finished writing your book, your manuscript is now considered the First Draft. It’s called the First Draft because it is the first copy of the book ever in existence where no changes have been made. It is a rough draft of the story straight from your mind to the page. According to Innovative Editing:

“In any piece of writing, whether a novel manuscript or a blog post, the first draft is also known as a rough draft. From start to finish, it’s technically a complete piece. It has a beginning that moves to…

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Writing And Editing: Five Problems to Avoid in Your First Novel

by http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2015/09/03/writing-editing-first-novel/

The first novel is definitely the hardest! You think you have internalized how a story works as a reader and then you discover there is so much more to learn.

writingIn this article, Natasa Lekic from New York Book Editors takes us through five problems that are common in first novels and how to avoid them.

The experience of writing your first draft can be a roller coaster.

However, once you write that final page, you’ll relate to Zadie Smith:

It’s a feeling of happiness that knocks me clean out of adjectives. I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word.”

For most first-time writers, this is followed by a straight dive into the publishing process.

After all, you did the work, now it’s time for your story to get out into the world – right?

Not yet. A crucial second phase is involved: the editing. Today, many novels go through an editor before they even reach a literary agent.

At the company I founded, NY Book Editors, we specialize in the editing phase, so we’ve worked with hundreds of first-time novelists. Our team of experienced editors—which has worked with authors ranging from Stephen King to Paulo Coelho to Haruki Murakami—say writers often stumble on the same things.

Here are the common issues writers deal with in their first outing:

1. Where’s the conflict?

Stories must have some form of tension, or conflict, at all times. First novels often start with long descriptions of place or character. The exposition may be beautiful, but prose is never enough to keep your reader interested.

Take even a quiet novel, such as national bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. In the opening scene, it’s an ordinary morning in Harold and Maureen’s household, but something seems wrong.

He’s sitting at breakfast, she’s vacuuming, and then, “The vacuum tumbled into silence, and his wife appeared, looking cross, with a letter.”

The letter is for Harold. As he absentmindedly reacts to Maureen’s request for the jam, she says:

“That’s the marmalade, Harold. Jam is red. If you look at things before you pick them up, you’ll find it helps.”

Harold discovers that the letter is from an old friend, letting him know she has cancer. Maureen changes her tone. She says she’s sorry to hear the news and tries to make a positive remark about the weather.

It seems she’s not just a crabby old woman. Her attitude is more complex than that.

On the surface, we’re reading about an ordinary breakfast and the delivery of a letter. But from the beginning, the reader can see there’s much more going on. This is what keeps us interested.

As an author, you know the central conflict of your story, the main arc, but remember it’s built up gradually through every little scene.

Your novel should never become a catalog of events. Instead, it should always include tension and conflict, which continue to engage the reader. This is the engine that drives your story forward.

2. Are your characters interesting?

As a reader or a movie goer, how frustrating is it when a character doesn’t turn out to be more than they seem? It means the writer didn’t have any insight into the inner life of this person or their world.

When a character has depth, we want to spend time with them – regardless of whether they’re good or evil, sympathetic or not – we’re drawn to their story and compelled to find out more.

One effective way to make sure your character is rich and multi-dimensional is to write their backstory.

This backstory is written outside your novel, and it should tell the character’s individual story—where they come from, what drives them and why—along with details about their life.

You can think of it as a mini history, and ask yourself what you might write if you were doing it for a family member or friend. You might include details about where they were born and who their relatives are, along with defining moments in their life, and tidbits about what they like or dislike.

In other words, you would include the big things, along with quirks that make them unique.

You might scratch your head and wonder why this is necessary. It’s not going to be in the book after all. Who cares about their backstory?

Jenna Blum in The Author at Work explains:

“Hemingway said that only the tip of the iceberg showed in fiction—your reader will see only what is above the water—but the knowledge that you have about your character that never makes it into the story acts as the bulk of the iceberg. And that is what gives your story weight and gravitas.”

The intimate understanding you have of your character will bury its way into your novel without you even noticing it. The reader, however, will be able to tell the difference.

3. Is your prose too beautiful?

Some authors believe good language should be showy. However, using unnecessary words in an effort to be literary or write more beautifully, is a common error first-time authors make.

Georges Simenon, a Belgian author, once pointed to a sentence and said: “That’s a beautiful sentence, cut it.” Simenon went on to say that he learned, after working with one editor, that sometimes style can overwhelm a writer’s content.

He explained:

“When you come across such a gorgeous sentence in a paragraph, it stands out and disrupts the even tone of your narrative. It’s as if you’ve paved a road and had a rose bush spurt up in the center. It’s beautiful, but it doesn’t belong there and it impedes the flow of the narrative.”

Or, as one of our editors put it, overuse of things like descriptors can bog down a narrative and make it more difficult for a reader to quickly grasp the meaning of a sentence and continue reading.

4. Has someone else read your manuscript?

Every writer should reread their own work and self-edit repeatedly – until they feel they’ve done everything they can for their manuscript. But at a certain point, a writer losses the ability to look over their own work honestly and objectively.

When he was younger, one of our editors completed a Master’s Thesis. Once he felt it was as good as he could possibly make it, he sent it to a friend to edit.

The document was returned in a sea of red marks. The most distressing edits, however, pointed out sections in which he had left out entire sentences.

“I knew exactly what I was trying to say, and so when I read it, I wasn’t reading the words on the page. I was reading what should have been there. My brain was filling in the gaps.

If I hadn’t had that person read it, I would have turned in something that in no way represented what I meant.

There comes a time when your writing is just too familiar to you. It all makes sense to you, so you can no longer see the flaws.”

That’s when a beta reader or a professional editor can really help. They’re approaching the manuscript for the first time, and they’re going to pick up on things you would never have noticed.

5. Be original

I know what you’re thinking—this is from Captain Obvious! But unless you have a masterful command of how to write in your genre, you run the risk of being predictable.

Consider Adele Waldman’s novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.; it’s about the romantic relationship between a man and a woman and has been compared to the work of Jane Austen. However, unlike Austen’s work, Waldman’s novel is written from the point-of-view of a man.

At its core, the story is familiar. There’s nothing original about the concept of this book, which became a national bestseller. However, because Waldman took the unconventional approach of telling this tale in the first person from the perspective of the man, she made something old feel wholly new.

Having a woman write a romance from the perspective of a brilliant young man gives rise to psychological observations that make the book feel revelatory.

In your genre, ask yourself how your story differs from other books. Even though you need to meet your reader’s expectations for their genre (Nathaniel P. is, after all, a novel about relationships), you also need to surprise them.

Keep in mind that fans of sci-fi read a lot of sci-fi, fans of chick lit read a lot of chick lit, and so on. They’ve seen many variations of the same story. You don’t need to recreate the wheel, but a fresh voice or a new approach to a tried and true formula will delight the reader.

As a bonus, if you’ve done this well, it will also be much easier to describe your novel to readers. Everyone gets excited by discovering a fresh approach to a genre they know well.

 The last piece of advice is – don’t stress!

Writing a novel is an immense undertaking. By taking the time to craft your story, your unique perspective of the world, you’re embarking on a difficult but endlessly rewarding journey.

When you make mistakes, don’t be too hard on yourself. Every author you’ve ever admired (alright, alright except Shakespeare) has lagged here and there, learned from their hiccups, and gone on to write the books that shake you to your core.

It doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and your craft. You’ll get there.

5 Secret Tips To Writing A Successful Short Story

From Writer’s Relief staff:

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. But the secret to successfully getting a short story published is to add something special to your storytelling mix…something that captures the attention of editors and readers alike. While there are no hard and fast rules for creating a great short story, here are a few industry secrets that will help your writing stand out:

Identify The Heart Of Your Story. Explore your motivations, determine what you want your story to do, then stick to your core message. Considering that the most marketable short stories tend to be 3,500 words or less, you’ll need to make every sentence count. If you over-stuff your plot by including too many distractions, your story will feel overloaded and underdeveloped.

See Things Differently. Experiment with your short story’s POV. A unique, unexpected voice can provide the most compelling, focused experience of the central story. Just be careful that you don’t inadvertently give the story to a nonessential character. Narrating the story line through a character who’s not central to the action is a common mistake many new authors make, often with confusing or convoluted results.

Opposites Attract. Elements that work against your character’s central desire will keep the reader intrigued and prevent your story from getting stuck. You can also try approaching your core idea from an unusual direction. Dialogue, setting, and characterization are all areas that will benefit from an unexpected twist.

Craft A Strong Title. This can be one of the most difficult—but one of the most important—parts of writing your story. How do you find inspiration for a great title? Have friends read your story and note which words or phrases strike them or stand out. These excerpts from your text just might hold the perfect title. Try to stay away from one- or two-word titles, which can seem to editors as taking the easy way out.

Shorter Is Sweeter. Resist the urge to go on and on. With a shorter short story, you will have more markets available to you and thus a better chance of getting published. Here at Writer’s Relief, our submission strategists and clients have noticed that editors consistently prefer short stories that are under 3,500 words over longer ones.

Use these simple tips to polish your prose and assess any potential short story shortcomings. With these insider guidelines, you can increase the odds of your short story being selected for the pages of a literary journal. That’s the best ending any author could devise—or even better, a great beginning to your future success!

Original post:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/short-story-tips-_n_3947152.html

3 Top Tips: Develop A Money-Making Writing Process

By Angela Booth

 

One of the most popular questions I receive concerns the writing process. It may be phrased as: “how do I write every day?”, or similarly. I always respond with another question: “what’s your goal?” Writing every day won’t help if you haven’t set any goals. So set some goals for your writing first.

Now let’s look at several tips for creating a writing process which helps you to make money, no matter what your writing goals happen to be.

What’s your current writing process?

To be able to change something, you need to know what it is that you want to change. Perhaps you procrastinate so that you write very little, or you feel that you don’t have enough time to write anything, or you’re frightened of writing because when you do write something you think that it’s rubbish… It doesn’t matter.

Grab a sheet of paper, or a sticky note (write on paper, so that you can paste the paper onto your car dashboard, or onto your bathroom mirror), and write down your current writing process in a sentence or two. Be honest. If you’re writing for ten minutes on a Sunday, or 20 minutes during your lunch hour at work, write that.

Try these tips…

1. WRITE ANYWAY. Because… Guess what? You’re probably never going to feel like writing every day

I love Mel Robbins’s book, Stop Saying You’re Fine: Discover a More Powerful You. She suggests that in any area of your life that you want to change, you must do the things that you don’t want to do.

Simple… But far from easy.

Whenever you don’t want to write for whatever reason — write anyway.

Over the past few months, I’ve moved myself and my business across the country, and I’ve found it very hard to write. I’m always suggesting DDT (do, don’t think) to my students, and it was time to put that into action myself.

Writing’s such a habit for me that I always write. However, without my comfy office, and a proper Internet connection, it was all too easy to convince myself that I had other things to do which were more important than writing. When I did get around to writing, instead of working on client projects, I amused myself by writing what I wanted to write (novels), rather than what I had to write.

Basically, I didn’t feel like writing, so I wrote for fewer hours than I normally do, and much less than I normally do. I had to remind my self to DDT, and to convince myself to write what I didn’t particularly want to write.

2. CREATE A WRITING SPACE, and close the door

If you don’t have a space that’s just for writing, choose one. Put some thought into it. This will be your “writing” space. You’ll train yourself that this space means writing to you, and nothing else.

Ensure that your chosen space has a lock on the door, good lighting, a comfortable chair, and a desk. You may not have these essentials (yet). Make do with what you have. Always go to your “writing” space when you want/ need to write.

If you’re easily distracted, turn off your Internet connection, so that you’re not tempted with Facebook, or online games, or whatever your favorite online activity happens to be.

Set up your space exactly the way you want it. Then, when it’s time to write, go to your space.

Perhaps you can only write during your lunch hour at work. In this situation, you’ll need to create a mental oasis. Imagine yourself in your perfect space: a large library, with lots of shelves, a huge desk…

3. MODEL A WRITER YOU ADMIRE: see yourself writing successfully

Which writers do you admire? Find a writing hero — someone who’s doing what you’d love to do, and then model that person. (To model someone is basically to do what they do.)

The Internet is amazing. Writers share their stories, and their processes, so you should be able to find any number of models who successfully write what you want to write.

Obviously, you can’t model your model’s successes. Your successes will be different from your hero’s successes. You’re modeling what your hero does.

Back to your sticky note…

Did you write your current writing process on your sticky note? If not, do that now.

Next, find your writing model. You may find that your model spends four hours every morning writing his books, and the afternoon hours reading and researching.

Don’t quit your day job to model this writer.

Instead, pay attention to the overall process: writing, reading, researching. If you follow that process, sooner or later you’ll get results.

Write “writing, reading, research” on your sticky note. All three (or however many elements there are with your model) are important. Include all the elements in your writing process.

When you don’t feel like writing, write anyway

It’s easy to become distracted — I’ve discovered that. If you find that you’re distracted, and you don’t feel like writing, sit down in your writing space, and write anyway. Within ten minutes, your mood will pass. On some days, it won’t pass. You’ll be very distracted — the same applies. Write anyway.

Over time, your writing space will have a Pavlovian effect on you. You’ll start writing as soon as you sit down and open your computer.

Your next step

Grab your sticky note, and choose a model. Then… write..

Original: http://www.fabfreelancewriting.com/blog/2016/04/06/3-top-tips-develop-money-making-writing-process/

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #26 (A part of my novel)

He came back onto the main street and continued walking westward, passing a few houses and small shops along the way.  On his left, there were more structures along the length of the road, but on the right, there were punctuation of small gardens, farms and empty lots.

He saw a bar.  The sign stood imposing.  Written in a style he had once seen in a cow boy movie on an old black and white television back on Dow Island.

Toney saw a crowd of about fifteen or twenty men, surrounding five others.  The five sat around a small circle, metallic coloured table, on weathered stools, frantically engaging each other.  They slammed on the table little white wooden blocks with black dots on them, lining them up in a formation.

The crowds cheered louder as Toney approached, making a pathway for him.  He hesitated to join the space now created for him.  But the noise infectious.  Cries like that of a coliseum.  Encouraging any who will venture in the centre.  He moved in cautiously, rubbing his toes against the inside soles of his shoes.

“No one can beat you now, Lamont,” a voice shouted from behind Toney’s head.  It startled him.

A few more then joined in the chorus shouting the name, “Lamont…Lamont…hail king Lamont.”

A dejected looking East Indian man got up from his seat at the table.  He tilted his head to one side, eyes fired red.  He looked at the men sitting under him.  He said nothing, just stared.  His eyebrows seemed to join each other over the crease in his forehead.  He panted.  His sideburns dripped with sweat.

For a moment, the crowds too grew quiet and backed off from the two men as if to give them space.  This was no longer a game.  Feelings were hurt, and the man standing wanted nothing more than revenge.

Toney felt compelled to stay.  He thought for a instant, if trouble were to erupt he will be in the very centre of it, and so, he should move away.  Yet flirting with danger, as if to prove himself a part of this new world, he stood his ground.

Still, the man standing said zilch.  His breathing became shallower and his palms made tight fist.  The rest of his body stood motionless.

Pushing his way into the little crowd came another man, a little over six feet tall.  Although, to Toney he looked more like seven feet—and Toney was five feet eight inches.  He was well over three hundred pounds.  A giant of a man.  A white apron hung silly around his neck; his belly pushing it aside as he moved.  He came to the table and stood, towering over the now quiet throng.

“Lamont, you good, you really good at this domino game,” the man shook his head left to right as he spoke.

“You could say that again,” Lamont said.

The man seemed to pay little attention to Lamont’s words.  “Everybody just cool it.”

“They better,” Lamont said, as he finally got to his feet.  “Like people around here don’t know who is me or what?”

The large man fold his arms, turning his attention to Lamont.  Although his folded arms looked more like him resting his forearms over a dinner table; his huge belly. “What is there to know, tell me, please?”

“Like this washed out old barrel confused,” the man who just got to his feet continued.

The little crowd giggled and a few chattered among themselves.

“I think you should hush now,” the large man said, pointing sternly.

All went silent once more.

Lamont eyeballed the man speaking to him.

“Are you serious, boy,” the massive man slowly removed the apron from around his neck, placing it over the table.  He moved in closer to Lamont, pushing the table to the side.  He now stood between Lamont and the clenched fist man.

“Come son,” someone from the crowd pulled Lamont from the centre of the commotion.

“No, please, leave the lad.”

“Come on Peter, you know how stupid youth can be,” the man holding Lamont by the hand said, as he took him away.

Peter now turned his frame to the East Indian man, who at no time moved an inch; except to narrow his eyes lids, fixing his attention on Lamont better.  “Now Deo, welcome back.  But a lot has changed around here.  Lamont is a man now, still loud, but changed.  So is Zig, Jah Jah and Dennis,” he pointed at the other men who were still sitting.

“Let me be the judge of that,” Deo said.

The man continued, holding the attention of the onlookers.  “And you will be.  Now, come inside everyone, one drink for each man, it’s on the house.  Deo is back, remember guys, Kiskadee village is changed.”

The crowds moved.  A few men left, including Lamont, but the majority moved in the direction of the bar’s swinging doors.

Deo stepped away from his chair.   He looked at it momentarily.  He became pensive for about a few seconds.  But shook his head as if to say he was satisfied with how things turned out this morning.  He tucked his shirt back into the waist of his pants; loosened, as he rose quickly from his seat during the altercation.  He dusted himself, cleared his throat and presented a smile.

His eyes now fixed on Toney.  “And you are?” he said, nodding childishly.

“Toney, Mr. Deo.”

“Ah!  Drop the Mr., is Deo for you,” he chuckled.  “Well, you heard Peter, come in and take one with me, Toney boy.”

Deo, tapped Toney on the shoulder, and gently nudged him to the opening of the bar door.

“Well, okay…why not.”

“It’s nice to see what Peter and them did with this place,” Deo looked at the eve of the building and to the side.

“Well, it doesn’t look too bad.”

“Toney boy, not too bad, you should have seen this place before.  This place was a real work of art.  A lot used to happen right here, a lot.”

“I guess every place needs to change, and even the people who live here.”

“If is one think, you right about that.  Alright, let we come out this sun.”

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #25 (A part of my novel)

The two moved closer to the gentleman.  At first, he appeared not to recognize anyone standing at his side.  He simply remained staring at an ax in his hand.

The man took a deep breath, and cleared his throat a couple times.

Holding the ax firmly in his hands, he rotated his shoulders, as if in his mind, he struck the blade at the truck of a three.  Methodically, he did the motion about two or three times, and then froze.

Jason moved a bit closer to his father, arching his body as if to use his father as a shield, should the man turned crazy.

The man raised the ax slowly, high above his head.  Then he brought it down, almost in a straight line, unhurriedly.  It came to a stop, about three inches from the table top.

He remained holding the ax firmly in the same position.

Toney remained quiet as well, observing a moment of silence with this stranger.  His son, to the back of him, his blood running scared follow suit.

The man drew in a long breath and paused.  Gently nodding his head, he removed a hand from the ax, give a thumps up and released the breath.

“Okay…okay,” Toney said as he rubbed his palms together.  He made a stepped back, about an inch; figuratively giving the stranger some room to breathe.

Between Toney and the man there was a communication.  Jason was unaware of what all of this meant, but knew something had just taken place, between the man, the ax and his father; something sacred.  He just made it out to be something only men like his father and this stranger will understand.  For him, he will have preferred to leave this establishment by now.  That is, if his legs will have carried he at that time.

“Jameson is the name,” the man said softly.

Then like a new born baby, he rested the ax on a cleared space on the table.  “Haven’t seen your face around here before,”  Jameson turned to Toney and his son, his hands stretched out to greet Toney.

“Toney, the name is Toney, and, this is my son,” Toney motioned with his left thumb, moving out the way to expose Jason to the view of the man.

“Go on boy, tell the man your name,” Toney grunted.

“That’s alright Toney, the young man and I will have enough time to catch up.”

Toney looked at his fingernails, “How do you know it isn’t I who want the job?”

Jameson turned his head away from the two and straight in front of him.  “At my age, you get to be able to read people, and besides your hands are not for grinding, maybe farming.”

Jameson pulled the rubber band off his ponytail, exposing the strikes of grays in his unruly blond hair.

“Carpentry, Mr. Jameson, carpentry.”

“Well Toney, son, you learn every day,” he replied, while picking up the ax to examine its blade.

“Dad, you’re going to leave me here?”  Jason’s voice cracked.

Toney tapped his son on his shoulders a couple times, “He is a good man son, I trust him.”

“Okay, so you trust him.  We just met the guy.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Great, that’s just great!”  Jason raised his hands and dropped it at his side.

Jameson seemed undeterred.  He just kept at what he was doing; examining the ax in his hands.

As Toney made his way out of the shop, leaving Jason behind, Jameson called out to him.  “Two dollars an hour, the pay is two dollars an hour.  Work starts at eight and ends at four o’ clock, you will see him then.”

Toney did not look back, but raised his hand and waved.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.