Saturday, January 29, 2011

Becoming a Writer Part 2

So you want to be a writer? Fantastic. It's a wonderful, great, hard life. I mean, things I couldn't even imagine being an issue or concern before I started writing, are now an issue and concern.

I'm like, "Who knew?" For example? Like, how to "brand" myself. I thought only corporations used brands. Blogging with purpose instead of eclectic. Social media. How to work in partnership with publishers while remaining responsible for your own career.

Or things like staying with changes in publishing, the nuances of the Christian fiction market. You know what was selling well, what the readers demanded, five, ten years ago is very different from what's selling like hot cakes now.

I wonder if some Christian readers who used to read secular books are migrating to the CBA world and picking up books they never knew existed. As a result, a lot of these readers are romance readers, it changes the balance of the market.

Just a guess. But come on romance readers, we welcome you!

So, what do you need to know as you start out?

1. Read a lot. Read widely. Read to study the craft. How did the author put this story together? When I wanted to write chick lit, I read a lot of chick lit to figure out how the author told the story.

2. Study the craft. We have some great tools and work books over at My Book Therapy. Make sure you understand point of view, how to use conflict and tension, the purpose of back story, all the basics of good writing.

3. Write your book all the way through to the end. Don't stop and start over more than once or twice. My first book took 2 years to write because I kept starting over. Keep going. There is always something that happens in the middle or the end that reveals something you can layer back into the beginning.

4. Rewrite your book. Get it critiqued. Rewrite it again. Dig deep to get those character layers. Delete stuff! Rewrite. Your genius will reinvent itself. Trust me. :)

5. Get involved with writers organizations. Join ACFW, ACW, My Book Therapy, RWA, local writers guilds or groups. Take or audit a creative writing class at the local college. Get into the writing community.

6. Attend conferences to learn and to network. Get to know people. Join Twitter and Facebook. Follow authors, editors and agents.

7. Listen more than you speak. Give more than you take. Be teachable.

8. Be ready for the long haul. No shortcuts.

9. Once you've finished your manuscript and attended a conference or two, and you feel you're ready to query agents or editors, research the ones you're interested in. Read their guidelines. Read their blogs. Be informed. Send them the RIGHT stuff. If an agent does take children's manuscripts, don't send yours! I tell you, writers can be so obtuse sometimes.

10. Realize your manuscript is not God's gift to literature. You've not written something that defies all the rules and even a publisher who doesn't published Amish Sci Fi Steampunk still won't want your masterpiece. Don't shoot yourself in the foot.

11. Once you find an agent interested, do what they ask as soon as you can. Send the synopsis and first three chapters if that's all they want. Don't send them the whole manuscript. Follow directions. Same with any editor you might be dealing directly with.

12. Behave like they taught you in kindergarten. Please and thank you. Honor. Do what you're told or asked. ;)

13. Blog with a view to hone your prose and to observe life. Observing life, catching the hyperbole is so much a part of great fiction. I am a big fan of blogging as a way to train yourself as a fiction author.

Can I end on the lucky number thirteen? I think I will. I'm not afraid. Next, I'll blog on what I think it takes to make an average author extraordinary. :)

(... to be continued. Part 3)

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