New Author Tip: Warning – Do Not Publish that First Draft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A rule of thumb is that you do not publish a book you just finished writing.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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Try And Try

We do the best we can…the effort we put in will impact someone, even if we are not aware of who they are or what we did for them. This is a nice piece of writing. Quite reflective.

Heartstring Eulogies

“And I suppose that’s all anyone can do. Try.”

When the clock stops ticking, I’ll be at my end. Whether it comes today, tomorrow, or years from now, I’ll know I lived my life as best I could. It may never be enough. Because I know it hasn’t been perfect. But I tried. And I suppose that’s all anyone can do. Try. I’ve loved, and I’ve managed to overcome so much of the darkness in my past. Flaws and all, I’ve tried. And I’ll keep trying, even though the voice in the back of my head will continue telling me it’s not enough.

© Sarah Doughty

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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 #27 (A part of my novel)

Inside, the two men went passed the other patrons and straight to the counter.  Only a few minutes had passed though.  But to Toney, he felt as if it was hours.  He was not the kind of man to sit still for any lengthy periods.  Being asked to sit still was like asking him to serve a lengthy prison sentence, for a crime he did not commit.

For those moments in the bar, he did sit; but rock back and forth, and tapped his fingers on his lap.  Then again, he was not much of a drinker.  So being in a bar was unnerving.

He felt the walls of the bar closing in on him.

The countertop, the only area of safety for him, a few times he rested his elbows on it; it sparkled.

The constant wiping on the countertop, by Peter, offered a welcoming distraction for Toney’s eyes.

The cream coloured walls, flaking, offered no beauty to the already dreary room.

It appeared, in every inch of the room, the mixture of sweat and liquor dancing violently in the air.  Toney’s stomach churned.  Glued to the countertop; he meandered his way in telling a bit about himself to Deo.

“Well, that is a little about me.  Nothing much too this man before you.  I am like a child in this place, brand new.”  Toney looked at the glass of whisky, twirling the last bit.

“I see…I see,” Deo shook his head, he too looked at the countertop.

“But, you have not really said much about yourself, who are you around here?”  Toney shrugged his shoulders.

Deo looked at Peter with a quick side glance.  Peter on the other side of the counter, with a white cotton cloth in his hand, had about six wine glasses in front of him.  Not in the conversation, but certainly close enough to hear the two men.  And maybe he did.  For as soon as he heard Toney’s question and got the glance from Deo, his countenance changed.

Peter moved away and tended to other customers.

Deo glanced at Toney, and then surveyed the bar on either side of his shoulders.  He appeared to look for something, something out of the ordinary.

Toney became concerned, but did not venture to speculate.

He waited for Deo to decide to answer, or at least process a response.

“Toney, all men are not build up equal,” Deo muttered in an undertone.  He peered into his glass of whisky, his eyes ferocious; more so than what it was outside a while ago.

“Okay.”

Deo gulped the last bit of the drink then continued, “Toney, I could sense you’re a good man, your heart, pure.  An adventurer, but your heart is pure.”  He gripped the glass closer in his fist.

“I am…”

“Over twelve years,” Deo bent his head back and closed his eyes, his breath is slow and deliberate; he dragged his words, “Toney, you tell me, what kind of man leaves his wife, his daughters, girls Toney, girls, and allows himself to go away!”

Toney bit down gently on his tongue, then attempted to fix himself on the bar stool, “Deo, you—”.

Deo interrupted him.  Toney acted surprised, but was relieved to not make a comment.  Really not knowing what he would have said.

“Toney, a ruthless man, I am a ruthless man!”  Not wanting to draw attention to himself, but apparently not realizing his strength, slammed the glass against the counter.

“Well, Deo…”

“That is okay Toney you could say it,” Deo jumped off the stool, stood, then pushed the glass away from him.

The two raised their heads recognizing Peter had moved closer to where they were.

“Deo, I think you had enough,” Peter said, as he reached for Deo’s glass.

Deo looked at the glass in Peters hand; he became pensive, hypnotized by something, “Yeah well…,” he mumbled.

Peter cleared his throat and turned to Toney’s glass.  Toney slid it to Peter’s reach, he too stood, frozen; waiting.

Then Peter spoke, “Ruthless men do not feel shame and guilt, but conscious men do.  You have returned, Deo, you are here now.  Shelly is happy, the girls are happy.  You have matured and I am sure that no one really treated you badly since your return.”

Deo bent his head, placed both hands in his pocket and turned away from Peter, leaving the bar.

Toney looked at Peter.  His both hands, palms opened, moved closer to his chest.  His eyebrow closed in to each other.

Peter though will have no curious question.  “And, please, am…,” he waved his finger.

“Toney.”

“Yes you, Toney.  Don’t ask me anything about the man’s past.  Just leave it alone.  No one around here wants to remember.  You hear me stranger?.”

Toney awkwardly moved the right side of his face.  He shook his head as a child being scolded for an unlawful act.

Peter attempted to walk away to attend too another customer, when Toney called out to him.  “Peter, I am looking for work, do you…, or do you know of anyone who needs someone to employ?  I am good with my hands.”

Peter stopped, held his hands over his mouth, then tilted his head as he close one eye. “Well I needed someone to help around here, but already contacted a person.  Actually, she is expected today, come to think of it, haven’t seen her yet though.”

Toney nodded and gave a little smiled.  “Well if you hear of any opportunities let me know,” he said and turned to leave the bar.

“Oh, wait,” Peter jerked his index finger in the air, signaling Toney.

“Yes,” Toney stopped, clasped his hands behind his back and bended slightly forward.

“You know, Mr. Chin Soo Chow asked me a few weeks back, if I knew any handy man.  At the time there weren’t any willing to take the job.  But I really didn’t hear him say anything about finding anyone.”

“Alright, I guessed that’s good news then.  I will check him out sometime this morning,” he smiled.

Urging Toney to go see Mr. Chin, right away, he waved his palms at him, then pointed, allowing Toney’s head to follow in the direction of his hands.  “He is next door, he owns the grocery store.”

“Nice, thanks.”

Toney, became spirited, thanked Peter and headed for the door.

A young, tall, gorgeously looking woman entered the bar, passing him on his way out, he nodded at her and proceeded to push the swinging doors and exited.

He brought his steps to a halt, turning.  Behind him he heard Peter vocalized something.  As he tiptoed over the swinging door, he saw Peter moved from behind the counter and stood in the middle of the walk way.

“Men, stop what you’re doing for a moment, and yes, Dennis that means you too,” Peter said.  He was quite assertive.  So much so, that every man in the bar stopped, raised his head and listened.  “Let me make this very clear—.”

But before Peter could continue, he was interrupted by Dennis.

“My goodness, Peter, who is that sweet girl?”  Dennis yelled, while he rose to his feet.

Some of the men chuckled.

Peter quickly made his voice overpowering once more, “Yes about this girl,” Peter suspended his words for a few seconds to glance in the direction of Dennis, “Dennis, I think you should remained standing, because when I am through with what I have to say, you will leave.  I will see you tomorrow, not today again but tomorrow, right!”

Dennis appeared to ignore Peter, pulling his stool closer to him to sit back down again.  The stool made a scraping noise against the rustic floor.

About twenty, or so, men were in the bar.  With horrid stares on their faces, they turned to look at Dennis.  His body arched to sit.

Peter’s toes itched to move in Dennis direction.

There was a silence, overshadowing the bar’s misty air.

Toney, still stationed at the door, heard an influencing tone from the other side of the bar.

“Dennis, you heard the man, we’ll see you tomorrow!”  The voice, assertive as well, but friendlier than Peter’s.

“That’s find Zig, I was leaving anyway,” Dennis responded.

Peter came back into the conversation, appearing to not be overly sidetracked by what had just happened.  “Now this is Candy, she’s my niece.  She’s now staying in the house just right around the bend, after the cemetery.  I think most of you will have remembered my older sister, Miss Joanna, who lived obliquely opposite the primary school.”

“Oh, yes man, I remember her, Miss Joanna, boy.  I for one sorry she gone,” Zig said nodding.

A few men chattered quietly among themselves about what Peter’s sister had taught them at school.

“She will be our waitress from today, she is to be respected and I ask that she shows each of you the same.  So are we are clear?”

Like a choir after the orchestra played the introductory piece, the men harmoniously bellowed, ‘yes’ to Peter’s request.

Peter now focused his attention on Candy.  He hugged her tightly, and kissed her on the forehead.

Dennis made his way out of the bar grumbling something to Toney as he brushed passed him.

Toney chuckled to himself.  Unto the streets, he entered the blazing sun and glorious light which emanated from the heavens, upon Kiskadee village.  As he walked in the direction of Mr. Chin’s grocery he squinted, trying to adjust his eyes to the brilliant light.  By now the sun was directly overhead.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.