New Author Tip: Warning – Do Not Publish that First Draft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A rule of thumb is that you do not publish a book you just finished writing.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

View original post 293 more words

Advertisements

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 #28 (A part of my novel)

A year had almost gone by and Toney was doing quite well.  During the past few months, he was able to acquire sufficient money working at Mr. Chin, so that he was able to make renovations to the house.

Jason was now approaching eighteen; doing so in a couple weeks.  He still missed his old home back on Dow Island, but at least his complaining got less and less in the ear of his parents.

Merry too had settled in nicely in the village.  From time to time she stitched draperies and sold.  The village women really grew to love her designs.  With almost any type of material Merry got her hands on, she was able to make artistic miracles happen.

Village life was quiet.  A bit quieter than what the family were used to on Dow Island, but, all in all, the few month were excellent.

***

About 8:00 pm on Sunday, Mr. Chin and his two daughters had already gone to bed for the night.

Toney and Merry had also turned in.  Toney lay in his usual position on the bed.  His back rested slightly against the wall.  Merry’s head in his arms.  Her ear listened to each thump of his heart.  Like the swings of a pendulum, the sound sent her sailing to the world of sleep.

Jason had asked to stay out a bit later and trusting him, Toney agreed.

The breeze gently ruffled the trees outside.

As Toney lay in bed, he imagined the life he wanted for his family.  A life filled with peace and unity, a life with ease, a life which will have been difficult, had he stayed on Dow Island.  He knew his upbringing was not the ideal but at present, he had done all he could to bring a measure of happiness to his family and so far, he was managing to do this.

As he too began fading into sleep, he heard the howls of his dogs.  His eyes widened.  He knew the call of his dogs signals and knew how to listen between their calls.  They did not let up.

Toney knocked his fingers gently on the window sill above his head.  He was hopping not to wake his wife, who by now was fast asleep.  Yet, with the howling outside, Merry did not even budge.

In the distance he heard a faint crackle, and then a slightly louder one.  He found it strange, as beaming on the window ledge appeared a bright light.  It was a brilliant glow, one that he could not ignore.  For a moment, he thought to himself that he had left the lamp on in the kitchen, but the light was not coming from inside the house.

“Merry, Merry wake up, I smell smoke!”

“What’s that Toney, why do you need soap?”  Merry groaned as she wrestled to open her scarlet shot eyes.

Toney rolled her off his arms and pulled himself to a seating position.

“Light,” he said.

“I am tired love, come back to bed,” she protested.

As she said those words, Toney brushed aside the cotton curtains and pushed his head out of the window opening.  By then, he knelt on the bed next to Merry’s head.  His eyes, squinting, narrowing his vision; feverishly he tried to get a fix on the location of the disturbance.

The cool air that was evident during the early evening, was converted into a great furnace of gray smoke, churning among the trees.  The skies were a red and orange blanket.

The teak trees along the footpath leading to the main road, became ghostly figures, creatures seeking shelter, bending in one direction but not able to take cover.

“Fire, fire Merry, something is not right out in the trees!”  Toney shouted.

“What?  Where is Jason, Toney?”  Merry, fully coming to her senses.

“I’m not sure Merry, I am sure he is alright though,” Toney jumped over her and grabbed his jeans from the corner of the room where it hung on a nail driven in the wall.

She threw a shirt at Toney as he ran out of the bedroom towards the kitchen.  As he moved passed Jason’s bedroom, he looked in but his son was absent.  Merry ran after him but stopped short at the kitchen table, her heart racing.  Her fingers and toes, cold.  Toney forced opened the front door, breaking the handle in his haste.  In the confusion, he did not realize his shoes lay tucked neatly beside the kitchen sink; jumped down the flight of steps and into the night.

Hurriedly, he moved through the track leading from his house, to the main road.  The air, chocking.  His toes, like claws propelling himself through the air, they seem to barely touch the earth.  His arms flapped clumsily as he tried to gain his balance.  He stumbled out of the track and onto the stone road.  He then stopped in horror.

On the western side, just before the street took a sharp turn, he saw the terrifying flames.   He thought to himself, something must have ignited in Peter’s bar, and the presents of alcohol, fuel for the flames.

He made his way down the street, racing once more.

A sole man, running as fast as his legs could carry him.

But nearing the flames, he beheld he is not alone.  About fifty or sixty meters away, the street, filled with residence, buckets in hand.  But as they threw water on the raging beast, this only served to infuriate the creature further.  The damage was already done, the structure, gutted.

Toney moved closer to assist, however, as he came about forty feet of the commotion, he made a grimmer discovery.  For it was not Peter’s bar being consumed, but Mr. Chin’s grocery, the place of his employment.

Toney ran to the side of the structure.  A chain of residence about ninety or maybe one hundred strong, snaked their way to the river; which passed a little less than quarter mile off the main road.

Mr. Chin’s house was almost attached to the grocery, with just about five feet separating the two.  Toney joined the line and started passing buckets of water.

After about five minutes into his arrival though, efforts turned from, trying to save the grocery, which by now was lost, to saving the closest structure.  As the beast of fury showed signs of ending on the skeleton of the grocery store, the famished dragon turned its head to the house of Mr. Chin.

Thick smoke engulfed the house, attempting to blind all who will venture to predict which section of the house to guard.

A faint cough could be heard, emanating from within the belly of the dwelling, it is Mr. Chin, but he is all alone.  His two daughters Clara and Ping are missing.  As he struggled to burst through the front door of the house, he heard a voice shout at him.

“Move away from the door, Chin!”  Sharp and commanding the voice.

No sooner had Mr. Chin dropped to the floor, a loud smashing sound came.  It was Jameson, chopping into the cedar door relentlessly.  It was as if he had rehearsed these movements over and over in his mind, waiting for this night to test the agility of the ax.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.