*Proper hydration and snackage are key to good writing.
As the fourth installment of Ruth Snyder’s Blog Hop, here’s a little ditty on advice to new writers. For other submissions go to: http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=375682
In no particular order:
1. Know what agents hate and avoid it doing it. Get online and read as much as you can about style and trending genres. For example, agents are not looking for vampire books, YA or adult. Also, Paranormal romance is apparently flooded at the moment, hence getting signed after years of hard writing may prove extremely difficult. That’s not to say you might not be special, but at least you’d know the odds. In addition, you’ll want to make sure your writing is not completely devoid of proper grammar. I use The Accidents of Style by Charles Harrington Elster. It covers a wide range of the most egregious and obvious writing mistakes, but with a note of humor.
Some websites where you can find agents: AgentQuery.com and QueryTracker.com. These websites allow you to specialize searches based on genre.
2. Self edit. This is something you’ll do in the later stages of writing, but it’s very important. Read your work out loud, cut and reword the awkward stuff.
3. Take a break. When you think you’re done, that your project is finished and polished and beautiful, take a break. For a whole manuscript I would recommend at least a month. For things like your query letter, I would recommend at least a week. This will allow you to break from the continuous train-of-thought in which you were writing and give you a fresh perspective upon return.
4. Don’t be kind. In order for your characters to grow, they must encounter difficulty. Both internal and external. You really want to slap your characters around, it’ll drive your story, create intrigue and make them grow … or die, which may also help your story. Just ask George R.R. Martin.
5. Follow Directions. Once you’re ready to submit your work to agents and editors, be sure to follow their directions, otherwise your work will be overlooked/spammed/deleted. Everything you need to know will be listed either on their personal or agency website.
6. Take criticism with a grain of salt. Get feedback, lots of it. Join writer’s groups and websites. Take everyone’s opinion into consideration, then decide for yourself what’s helpful. You know what’s best for your story and a lot of times you’ll know good feedback because it’ll be like “duh!”. That being said, if you get a substantial amount of feedback in opposition to whatever it is you’re working on, there’s a good chance there’s a problem somewhere in your story. Take the opportunity to grow, without resenting those brave enough to actually tell you.
7. Hire a professional. Once your friends have read through your stuff and you’ve done all you can, hire a professional editor to take a look. Editors can take a non-biased, impersonal view of your labors. I have already posted on this issue before, so check out the link: https://endlessedits.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/pay-up/
7. Cheese. (I will top off this little advice pizza with a thick layer of cheese.) You have to believe in yourself, because no one besides maybe your mother and your cat will ever know how badly you want to publish or how hard you have worked. After spending countless hours toiling over a manuscript, you’ll likely spend twice as long writing that query letter, which may very well get rejected for any number of reasons. During these long hours of frustration and heartache, just remember that everyone who has been published has also been rejected. So cry in your closet or take a shot of whiskey, but keep on trudging.