To Writers Just Joining the Ranks

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*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 encounterΒ  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.

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23 thoughts on “To Writers Just Joining the Ranks

  1. Thanks for sharing these tips. I’m enjoying seeing the similarities and differences between posts on this blog hop. I especially appreciated what you had to say about characters. Life is often difficult and yet as writers we want to be kind to our characters. We have to force ourselves to be ruthless and then see where the story leads us.

  2. Great advice, especially “take a break”. The editing process rolls smoother for me when I take small breaks in between sessions.

    -RB

    1. yeah, letting things sit for a while always gives me time to revisit other projects or just let ideas simmer–the ideas that you want to include but haven’t yet figured out how. i find these breaks usually help me find tune my overall plot.

      thanks for commenting! πŸ™‚

  3. Some really great suggestions. My favourite was to “know what agents hate and then avoid doing it”. That one made me smile. Seems obvious, but something we often forget to do is look into what isn’t selling or needed, and then find something else to write about if possible. Writers can be stubborn sometimes, and feel like we just have to write what we have to write. There is something to that if God has given that something to us, but we also have to consider that we’re not necessarily writing for ourselves but for others. We do well to not set ourselves up for failure in terms of getting our work out there – there will be enough obstacles for that, no need to add one more. Thanks for all the great advice!

    1. yeah, i don’t mean not to write what you want, but if your goal is to get published then you have to keep the market in mind. like you said, there’s so many obstacles already, being informed can keep you ahead of the curve.

      πŸ™‚ thanks for commenting!

  4. Cheese?! lol! I agree with all, but especially that you need to pay attention to agent and publisher guidelines. They aren’t interested in mavericks – at least not in the query process

  5. I love the photo! πŸ™‚ I definitely agree with number one, and I would say, research this before you start your novel! I doubt many people do this, but I wish I had. It would have been a lot easier than learning after I was done that I needed change everything. lol

  6. Love the cheese topping and reminder to believe in ourselves (and keep our sense of humour). These are all good tips. The one I’ve struggled with most is making life suitably hard for my characters. Just spent some time this afternoon complicating one character’s life… mwa-ha-ha I’m getting the hang of this.

    1. it usually takes me a few drafts to crank up the drama. i just deleted 20,000 words from my new ms because there just wasn’t pivotal, plot driven excitement. live and learn πŸ˜‰

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