Last week I promised more writing tips, well here they are! Whether you’re a beginning writer, an established author, or somewhere in between, keep these suggestions in mind as you work on your next project.
Reading Aloud is Fundamental: Before you send out your story, novel, query, or anything, make sure you read it aloud. When you read something aloud you’ll hear the words/narrative/dialog that don’t “work” or sound awkward. (And you’ll catch missing words.) If you find yourself stumbling over a sentence or phrase, it might need to be edited. Go slow and read every word. You won’t finish reading your novel aloud in a day, but the results are worth the time you invest in the process.
Give Me A Description: Use the 5 senses to enhance descriptions in your writing. Colors, smells, taste, the weather, food, (or anything) can be used to make a character or a setting stand out.
The living room smelled like a combination of wet dog and old lady perfume.
Claudia looked like she’d just eaten a lemon.
Only Aunt Patty would wear a hot-pink polka-dot dress with lime green shoes.
Color can help set the mood or tone of a story or reveal more about the characters. A room decorated in pinks and pastels with white wicker furniture probably belongs to a woman in a romance story. A room with red walls, black curtains, and silver candlesticks is most likely the setting for a horror story (or belongs to a romantic vampire!).
Rejection: It Really is All Subjective: All editors are not created the same. If you send your story (or query) out to 5 people, you’ll get 5 different opinions. (Although not every editor will share his or her feedback with you.) Rejection is hard to deal with, but as a writer you have to understand that the editor is rejecting the story, not you. Why? Sometimes you’ll never know. You might get a photocopied form letter that tells you nothing. Other times you might get a cryptic line about “not what we’re looking for” and sometimes you’ll get a paragraph with some explanation (weak plot, characters are not interesting, etc.). The important thing to remember after you’ve been rejected is to keep going. If the editor made suggestions (change the ending, add more dialog) consider the comments and either make the changes or don’t. (It’s your story.) But keep writing and submitting.
What’s Where?: Keep a list of when and where you submit your writing. Note the title of the piece (or query subject), date, and publication. This way, you’ll know what’s where and how long ago you sent it. This is handy in case you need to follow up on a wayward query or submission. I also make a list of places to submit to next, (just in case of rejection) so I’ll know where the story is headed.
5 Simple Rules of Writing: Learn these now and save yourself some angst:
- There’s no secret or magic way to get published. You must do the work, write the story, and submit, like everyone else.
- Write the best story you can and submit it to the proper markets.
- Everyone gets rejected – it’s not personal.
- Not everyone will like what you write. Develop a tough skin and learn to take negative reviews or criticism in stride.
- Keep writing no matter what. Be persistent and follow your dreams.
I hope these simple tips have helped motivate and encourage you as you work on your 2012 writing goals! Next week, excerpts from an interview!
Until next time,
Kelli A. Wilkins