The Top 5 Things You Need to Know–Part 2

Continuing on with my notes from the workshop I taught to the girls at camp…remember, I simplified for time and age. I’ve added a few more comments here in Blue.

(If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE.)

3. The Process

  • ResearchThis could be as simple as sitting at the park listening to people talk, or as complex as taking a class on physics to make sure you “get it”. 
  • Write the book (pantsing/plotting/mix)–We had a great discussion on these terms and the various levels a person can be of each. I, myself, started out straight pantser, but have now learned to plot to a certain level. Plotting makes my writing happen faster, pantsing keeps the mystery alive for me so that I want to continue.
  • Let it sit–crucial step in the process, and perhaps a hard one to learn.
  • The BIG Picture–Read through looking for flow and plot holes, character consistency and believability.
  • Revise–Cut and add scenes as needed to make the story make sense and move smoothly from each plot point.
  • Let it sit
  • Zooming In–Look at each chapter and scene individually. Do they have a purpose? Do they move the story forward or increase the tension? (conflict vs. action)
  • Revise Again–This is a good time to find critique partners and beta readers, see below.
  • Let it sit, send to a reader for comments.
  • Revise as needed for the following: passive voice, believable dialogue, excessive adj/adv usage, show vs tell. In the beginning I did each of these in a separate revising session, but now I’m automatically checking for these things from the beginning. Doesn’t mean I catch all of them, but I’m more aware now that I have a few years under my belt.
  • Write a Query and send it out, catch and agent/publisher and start selling books!

By the way, if you are ready for this last step, make sure you come to Unicorn Bell for all the details on our School’s In Query Contest Sunday night. All the fun starts on Monday.

4. Critique Partners/Beta Readers (What are they and why do I need them?)

In the most basic terms, I told the girls these were people not in their family and not their BEST friend. We actually joked around and decided you should have someone who doesn’t like you much read it because they will be brutally honest. Then we talked about how you learn to accept criticism and sift through it in order to find what you need to work on. 
The first time I received a REAL critique of my novel was hard. I sat there and felt like crying because is wasn’t this perfect masterpiece I dreamed it was. However, I also learned that having someone show me the realistic position I was in would make me a better writer. After that I craved critiques. It became a disease really. The problem arose when I tried to make everyone happy. I wasted a lot of time (see number 1) and drained my story of all life by trying to “fix” everything people mentioned.
That is reality. I had to learn to notice the things that multiple readers mentioned. Those were the things I needed to consider changing. In the end, I had to realize that this was MY story. I could accept or reject suggestions as I saw fit. Even now that I’m working with an editor.
My editor is wonderful. She’s made some suggestions on how to make Talia more endearing to the reader earlier. She’s sort of a loner and it’s hard to get to know her. I didn’t like the suggestion she made for one section, but it sparked my own idea for something that felt more like my character. What a wonderful process!

5. Platform (Putting on Your Social Face)
Blogs, twitter, facebook, google+, etc…

There wasn’t a lot I needed to tell teenagers about this. 🙂 My only suggestion to them was to remember that everything they put on the internet is there for the whole world to see. I also suggested that while they tried to think/act/speak more professionally, they needed to be themselves. You can only be something you’re not for a short time. And no one likes a fake.

That’s my Top 5 Things I wish I had known before becoming a writer.

What are Your top 5 things?

About charitybradford

Science fiction and fantasy writer and blogger. My first novel is now available--The Magic Wakes (WiDo Publishing, 2013)

Posted on August 10, 2012, in Personal Journaling, Writing Lessons. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Letting it sit never lasts long for me. I credit my ability to completely forget the beginning of the story for that one!Good test readers and critique partners are awesome. I'm so in sync with the ones I have now – they understand what I'm trying to accomplish and make great suggestions.

  2. Finding good critique partners is so hard! If you've got great ones hold onto them. I think I've finally found some real keepers with the ladies at UB.

  3. Those are all great, Charity. I think having the right crit partner can make a huge difference. I know it did for me.

  4. My advice might be from those that pursue traditional small pubs and that would be in the "marketing" department. Since you aren't going to have the benefit of a billion dollar company to push your book unto the masses, the best kind of marketing you can do is to write.What I mean by this is that I've gathered together all the stuff I cut from my writing over the years and organized them into small novellas. Then I've been posting them for free on a website that has high readership traffic with links back to my book page. I've noticed that since I started doing this, I'm selling two to three more books a week.I know this isn't stellar sales. But I attribute the fact that I've been posting stories related to my writing in hooking people that are natural readers and not so much writers into investigating my book.And the key to finding a website that has high reader traffic is one that hosts stories, has a known contributor base (has been around for years and survives on donations), and has no way for writers to interact. This last part is important. Writers (if given the chance) are so desperate to market their book (because everyone is writing one) that if given comments or an ability to track down a reader on a blog, they will do so and harass that person with "attention". It's the same phenomenon that happens to a book blogger who gets overwhelmed in a matter of weeks by hundreds of requests to review a book.

  5. "That is reality. I had to learn to notice the things that multiple readers mentioned. Those were the things I needed to consider changing. In the end, I had to realize that this was MY story. I could accept or reject suggestions as I saw fit. Even now that I'm working with an editor."Thought that part was particularly insightful and awesome, Charity. So very true. You have to train yourself to feel for what's very important and needs attention, and what might just be a reader preference type of thing. For me, it's an ever-evloving process. Really great post and thoughts! Hope you have a good weekend. 🙂

  6. Thanks E.J. That part is always the hardest because reader preference is important but so varied. It all goes back to knowing your audience while staying true to what's in your heart for your story.

  7. This is great advice! I love the idea of putting our work in front of readers without "harassing" them. It goes back to that quote I heard once, "Write what's in your heart and let those meant to find it find it." Or something like that. :)Do you have any suggestions for great sites?

  8. That's a good top 5. I don't have anything to add.Although, if I was talking to a group that age, I would stress the importance of just writing. Starting something. And finding a way to make it a habit.

  9. That's a great marketing ploy that I haven't read about anywhere else. I think it actually might be a good post for your blog, Michael.And I'm with Charity. What sites do you recommend?

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