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Category: Writing (page 2 of 4)

Learning from the Books We Read

My book group just finished reading and discussing A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman. It was loved by everyone in the group. This is a feat not normally pulled off by most of the books we read; usually the split is 60/40 enjoyed the book to not. We laughed about Ove’s misadventures, and all but one of us cried for the last sixty pages of the book (a happy cry).

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Every book you read as an aspiring author should be teaching you something. If not, toss it aside and save it for when you’re truly taking a break from thinking too much. I did not know what lesson A Man Called Ove was going to teach me when I started out, but I happily found many. Ove has adorable chapter titles. Great original characters with background stories. Short chapters that keep the story moving. Chapters that alternate between past and present.

At the beginning of the book the author shows us a thoroughly unlikeable character, and it seemed that Backman’s goal was not only to have him change through inciting events, but also to have the reader realize that our first impressions of Ove were shallowly drawn. My goal as both a reader and writer was to figure out how the author accomplished his tasks, and to learn from him. For instance when I’m writing fiction, I have a tendency to rush my main character’s story out all at once, and Ove teaches that you can take the whole book to get to know a character’s backstory.

When I am stuck with a place in my novel, I do two things. 1) I highlight the area where I’m stuck to return to later and keep going with my writing so I don’t get stuck; 2) I pick up another book to help show me the way out of my problem. For instance, I think my weakest muscles as a writer are conveying the feelings of my protagonists as they work their way through their story, and I find descriptions incredibly hard to write. So when it’s my time off writing, I’ll head to my bookshelf to select a few books that I think might help. Flipping through the pages, I’ll see how the writer had her character react to something frightening, or sad, or loving. For descriptions, I’ll generally turn to some classics. Pre-television/movies, these authors had long passages of description to describe the landscape, a house, a person’s clothing. Although I don’t think we should be writing 19th century descriptions anymore, they are inspiring.

“The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.”

—Ernest Gaines

Pick up A Man Called Ove and see if you aren’t inspired. (And set your tissues nearby.)

 

Nine Rules for Writing Dialogue

Writing dialogue can be tricky. Here are nine rules that can help you craft believable and natural-sounding dialogue that will propel your narrative forward:

  1. Use dialogue tags properly.speech bubbles

The first letter of the first word needs to be capitalized all of the time, and there must always be ending punctuation. If the dialogue tag is a lead-in, it must always have a comma such as: She said, “Yes.” Stick to “said” for at least 90% of your tags. You can also use “asked.” Avoid tags like “stated” and “replied” as they mean nothing more than “said.” “Said” eventually blends into the background and disappears (like “the” and “and”), but if you repeatedly pick alternate words, those stand out and pull attention away from the dialogue itself and to the dialogue tag instead. Words like “grinned” and “shrugged” are not verbs that indicate speaking. You can’t “grin” a sentence, so be sure you’re not using it as a dialogue tag.

  1. Mix action in so we know what the characters are doing while talking.

You need to add stage directions, to help your readers envision the scene. Think of it like a movie or play—tell readers what your character is physically doing, not just what she is saying and feeling.

  1. Don’t let your characters say each other’s names too often.

Real people don’t speak that way. In fact, they almost never say each other’s names unless they’re calling to someone in another room.

  1. Consistently format your interior dialogue.

It doesn’t matter if you use italics or quotation marks, but be consistent. If you do neither and just set interior dialogue off with commas, it can be confusing, particularly if the book is in third person and the thoughts are in first person.

  1. The dialogue should be particular to the characters.

Well-written dialogue cannot be exchanged between characters because it’s too unique to each character. Do your men sound like men and women like women and children like children? Do they use language appropriate to their generation? Their education? Their region?

  1. Absolutely do not tart up exposition as poor dialogue.

This is the kiss of death for most readers. You can never have two characters tell each other things they already know as a way to introduce backstory. You may have heard that introducing backstory through dialogue is preferable than through exposition, but if it’s done badly, it’s worse. Effective ways to do it are for two characters to argue about what happened, to ask each other if they remember a particular thing, and to acknowledge that the other character probably already knows this. But…. you still want to keep this to a minimum.

  1. Don’t bury the lede.

People don’t wait to tell each other something important or exciting. They lead off with that. If they are waiting for some reason (for when the time is right, to mentally prepare, for one person to leave the room), tell readers that reason.

  1. No long lectures.

Break up (and shorten) really large lectures. That’s not how actual conversations work—especially between women who give a lot of feedback to each other—instead, have characters ask questions and say things like “Yeah,” “I hear you,” and “That sucks.”

  1. Be careful if you’re using dialect or an accent.

Accents can be confusing, they are very difficult to keep consistent, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of sounding like a caricature or like you’re making fun of people from a particular region.

 

Questions to Ask For Developing Characters

Developing characters in important and tricky. Here are some questions to ask yourself while you’re fleshing out your story, to be sure you’re creating good, believable characters that readers will identify with.characters

  • Main character—is he/she three dimensional? Believable?
    • When did you start to care about him/her?
    • Was his/her problem important-seeming?
    • Are his/her details (looks, age, jobs) introduced early and in a natural way?
      • Do his/her details make sense? Does the job make sense given the personality? Do the personality traits go together?
    • Is his/her backstory integrated well? If revealed in dialogue, does it sound natural? Is too much backstory given?
    • Do his/her behaviors match the described personality?
      • If a character is described as outspoken or strong or brave, yet doesn’t speak up, lets other characters run roughshod over him, and doesn’t stand up for himself, that’s a major incongruity. Readers will believe the actions over the description, but just make sure they match in the first place.
    • Is the main character as strong as he/she needs to be to overcome the obstacles?
    • Does he/she have a goal?
  • Secondary characters—are they three dimensional? Believable? Distinguishable?
  • Tertiary characters—are there too many?
  • Do the characters have appropriate motivation to act on the conflict?
  • If there is an antagonist, is he/she cartoonishly evil or realistically bad?
    • Even bad guys have some good traits—does yours?
    • Why is your bad guy bad? What is his/her backstory?
  • Are there any characters that appear in just one scene? Could their dialogue/action be given to a different character?
  • Do you have any major characters introduced late in the book (past the first quarter)?
  • Do any major characters disappear before the end of the book?
    • Should they really be as major a character in their part of the book, if they’re not important enough to be in the full story?
    • If they really are major and important characters, shouldn’t they appear throughout?
  • Are any of the characters stereotypes? Could they be fleshed out with some shades of gray to make them more believable?
  • Do you have female characters who aren’t wives, girlfriends, or secretaries?
  • Are the names varied enough in syllables and first letters? Are any names conveniently typical (such as “Matt Stoner” for a hippie)?

8 Tips to Win a Fiction Writing Contest

winning-trophyIf you’re a writer, chances are you’ve wondered whether or not you should enter a writing contest. There are lots of good reasons you should: the confidence boost if you place, the practice of submitting your work, and the awards and/or publication information you can add to your writing résumé, which boosts your credibility with potential readers, agents, and publishers.

 

For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of being an early reader for the Women’s National Book Association’s annual fiction writing contest. While many of the entries are good, there are some that stand out. What makes these entries different? I’ve compiled a list of things the best fiction entries have in common.

  1. The writers follow the submission guidelines. If the contest has a word limit, stick to it. If there’s a theme, include it in your story. And be sure your story fits the criteria—don’t send your science fiction piece to a historical fiction contest.
  2. The copy is clean. Most entries are going to have a typo or two. That’s understandable. But the more errors I see, the more likely I am to stop reading.
  3. What’s in a name? Winning entries have intriguing titles. Every word counts in a short story, including your title. Good titles make me want to read immediately. Reading a title like “Excerpt from ________,” on the other hand, sounds like a snoozefest. Even if the entry is an excerpt, give it a standalone title.
  4. The beginning is strong. I know you hear that your lead must grab the reader’s attention right away. And you’re probably sick of hearing this tidbit, but it’s true. A short story follows a traditional story arc, but everything’s compressed. You’ve got to pull the reader in immediately.
  5. There’s an ending, not a cliffhanger. This is a biggie for me. Endings are tough, I know. Ocliffften short stories leave readers with an open-ended interpretation. The writer wants the reader to ponder what happened. But open-ended conclusions are not the same thing as cliffhangers. A cliffhanger is a great way to end a chapter, not a short piece of fiction. Readers want closure.
  6. The main character is vivid. By vivid, I don’t mean that the writers spend many words describing what the character looks like. I mean this character is hit with conflict and responds. Everything about him is believable from his dialogue to his actions.
  7. There’s something unique about the plot. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that a third of the entries I read for this last contest centered on someone having an affair. Another third focused on death. If you’re going to write about such a common theme, you better tackle it in a new way. To prove that this is possible, my favorite entry (the one I hope wins the whole shebang) fell into the affair category. But by golly, the author put a spin on it like I’ve never seen.
  8. The story made me feel something. The best entries made me laugh out loud, filled me with disdain, or left me sniffling. If you can make a reader connect emotionally, you’ve got something worth pursuing.

It’s a brave move to enter a writing contest. Make sure you’re competitive. Good luck!

 

 

5 Tips for Improving Your Interviews

phoneIf I’ve learned anything from my years of writing, it’s that producing good work comes from first having good content to work with. Sometimes, if you’re writing poetry or short stories, or some types of fiction, most of your material comes from your imagination. But for some fiction, and almost all types of non-fiction, there is quite a bit of research involved, and many times that research includes conducting an interview or two. Or more.

If you’re ghostwriting a book, writing a memoir, producing an article for a magazine or doing a little journalism for the local paper, you’ll be interviewing people to get information. And if you’re interviewing, you want to make the most of your time. Here are a few tips to be prepared to get the most out of the time you have, and get the information you need to make your writing project worthwhile.

 

  1. Do your research. Before you make the first call or write out your questions, take time to research the topic you’re writing about so you can sound knowledgeable about the subject matter. Or if you’re conducting a personal interview, find out what you can about that person beforehand.

 

  1. Prepare your questions. It can be hard to know exactly what route an interview will take, but it helps you stay on topic if you have prepared a list of questions ahead of time. Make sure there are plenty of open-ended questions to spark conversation. Asking things like: “Do you like tea?” will get you a yes or no, but “What types of tea do you like?” will at least get you a list, and you can follow up with a why for even more information.

 

  1. Set the tone with a friendly attitude. It’s always nice to start an interview with a little small talk or a non-invasive personal question. And be sure to share a little information about yourself as well. It helps get both of you more comfortable, and helps foster the feeling that you know each other, even if you’re just talking for a few minutes one day and will never talk to that person again. When the person being interviewed feels comfortable with you they are more likely to provide information.

 

  1. Be prepared to redirect. Sometimes a person will get involved in telling a story and start to get off the main topic. It is up to you to guide the interview, and gently redirect that person back to the topic at hand.

 

  1. Be prepared for the interview to take a new direction. There are times when getting off topic can be a good thing. You might have done research and prepared your questions with a specific direction in mind, but once you talk to the person you find out the information they share leads your story down a whole new path. When this happens, you often ask follow-up questions on the fly, but it’s rewarding to find out new and exciting information.

 

Most importantly, approach interviews with a positive attitude. It can be hard to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve never met. But in my experience, most people are excited to talk with a writer, and you can end up learning lots of information and getting to hear some great stories along the way.

 

Passive Voice: Why It’s the Worst

Writers should avoid passive voice whenever reasonably possible, mostly because many agents and editors consider it a pet peeve. In case you don’t know, in brief, passive voice is when you use any version of the verb “to be” including are, am, being, was, is, be, become, etc. with a past participle.

passive: The sentences in the paper were all passive.

active: Kate rewrote her paper in an active voice.

active voiceSometimes passive construction is the only real option, but that’s the case a tiny fraction of the time. Generally writers need to be aware of it and get rid of it whenever possible. It’s boring and, well, passive.

  • It slows action down and you want action in your book. Sometimes it can even cause confusion such as: “Dave was slung back against the wall in a hard thud.” It sounds like this happened by magic—like the way Darth Vader can choke someone from across a room. The writer ought to have a person sling him, hence getting rid of the passive voice: “The intruder slung Dave back against the wall.”
  • In certain situations, such as in business when trying to explain to a customer that they did something wrong without placing blame, you’d use the passive voice: “The orders were transmitted with errors” instead of “You sent orders with errors.”

How to Fix It:

  • The easiest solution is to reverse the sentence. Instead of saying “The company was sued by John,” you’d say “John sued the company.” This happens a lot when the acted upon becomes the subject and the actor is the object. If the actor is the subject, then you’ll always have an active situation.
  • Change your verb tense. There’s no good reason to say, “Erin was standing,” when you can say, “Erin stood.”
  • Try to get rid of as many “That was” and “It was” phrasings as possible. (Often in this construction there is a second “that” which also needs deleting for the sentence to make sense.)

passive: That was the solution that presented itself.

active: The solution presented itself.

  • Even when it doesn’t feel like adding action to you—changing “is” to “seems” for example—it still unconsciously registers with readers as less passive. Go through and see how many passive voice constructions you have in your writing. The exercise will make you think more carefully about word choice.

But passive construction is also okay. It’s a part of life. I’ve used passive verbs fifteen times in this article, not including examples. You don’t want to use them when they’re not necessary, particularly if there are good alternatives. But don’t do acrobatics and make your sentence structures convoluted just to avoid them.

A Few Basic Rules of Grammar, Style, and Punctuation

Some of what I’m going to say here might strike you as wrong. You might be more familiar with AP style, which is commonly used in newspapers, magazines, and some websites. However, book publishing uses The Chicago Manual of Style, and that will account for most of the differences between how you think things ought to be written and what is correct for yooxford_comma1ur manuscript.

  • Use the serial (or Oxford) comma. That means using a comma before “and” in a series of things, so you have “apples, pears, and peaches.” That second comma is the serial comma. It’s the norm for books and occasionally helps with clarity. You do not need a comma in a list of two items.
  • Comma splices happen when you join two or more sentences together just by commas and not by conjunctions or semicolons, commas do not join sentences. (That was a comma splice right there.) You can instead rewrite it to make it into one sentence or make them each into their own sentences. And don’t use more than one semicolon to join sentences. If you feel the need, make a new sentence. Trust me, if you’re wondering about this one, your sentence is too long.
  • When someone is cut off or interrupted, a dash is appropriate. That’s when you should use a dash—like this. It should not have spaces on either side of it and it is actually known as an em dash. Word will create it for you if you type two hyphens and keep typing, or it’s easy to find on the Insert tab. Ellipses imply that someone is trailing off, or has just slowly stopped speaking. Use four if it’s the end of a sentence (period plus three ellipses). Be careful not to overuse either dashes or ellipses.
  • Avoid participial phrases as they do not make for sophisticated writing. Participle phrases are the most common modifier to misplace or dangle. So instead of, “Breathing hard through his teeth, he gained control over the pain,” instead you would rephrase to: “As he breathed hard through his teeth, he gained control over the pain.”
  • Always start a new paragraph when changing speakers. In dialogue, the first word needs to be capitalized every time, and there must always be ending punctuation. If the dialogue tag is a lead-in, it must always have a comma, such as: She said, “Yes.”

Content/developmental editors won’t actually fix up many grammar issues (just their own pet peeves mostly) but a clean manuscript shows you have some understanding of how the English language works, in all its bizarreness, and that you pay attention to detail. It helps editors and agents better see the forest for the trees.

Basics of Beta Readers

If you’ve ever encountered a beta website, chances are you’ve run into a kink while using it. The term beta means something is in test mode. In the case of beta readers, it’s your manuscript being tested, not the readers themselves.

Betas: Readers, Not Fish

Betas: Readers, Not Fish

What Is a Beta Reader?

A beta reader is someone who enjoys reading and is willing to give honest feedback on an unpublished manuscript. Beta readers are not book reviewers. While it would be nice if your beta readers left a review for you after you publish, it’s not part of their job description. Beta readers are not professional editors, either.

 

 

Who Makes a Good Beta Reader (and Who Does Not)?

Family members are the worst beta readers. Too often they either offer meaningless feedback (I love it. You’re so talented.) because they don’t want to hurt your feelings, or they cut you to the quick with their jealousy (This was the worst drivel I’ve ever read. What makes you think you’re a writer?).

Critique partners can fall on either side of the fence. Because critique partners are also writers, they understand nuances of story construction or character development that are lost on a casual reader. They can give you meaningful advice that will improve your manuscript. Sometimes, though, writers have a hard time not imposing their writing style and ideas on others’ work. Proceed with caution if asking a critique partner to beta read your full manuscript.

The best betas are readers in your target audience. If you don’t know who your target audience is, figure that out ASAP.

How Do You Find the Best Beta Readers?

Shoot to work with three to five beta readers.

Use networking connections to find content experts if you’re writing nonfiction. If you’re writing a middle grade novel, ask a teacher or a librarian if they can introduce you to students who would read your book and tell you what they think (get parental permission, of course).

Look for people that enjoy reading, know something about writing, and/or won’t be afraid to give you constructive feedback. If you are really struggling to find quality beta readers in your circles, you can hire beta readers.

Best Practices When Working with a Beta Reader?

  • Be clear about your genre, description, and manuscript length.
  • Set a reasonable deadline. Gently nudge the reader if they miss the deadline. (Side note: if they keep putting you off, chances are they couldn’t get into your book and don’t intend to read it. If you suspect this to be the case, asking directly may be your best bet.)
  • Give your beta reader(s) guiding questions to think about while reading. This will help ensure you get feedback that you can use. Explain that you want feedback on content, not on word level edits (spelling mistakes and the like).
  • thank-you-textBe gracious. If you haven’t paid for this service, be sure to send a thank you note. You may even want to include a small gift card or other treat if their feedback was especially helpful.

 

What Do You Do with the Feedback?

Wait until you’ve received feedback from all your beta readers before you make any decisions about revisions. Read through their feedback and then sit with it for a period of time to digest it. Take note of areas that your beta readers agree need revision. But maybe ignore the suggestion that doesn’t resonate. Then get busy incorporating changes.

Beta readers are a valuable part of the publishing process. Take the time to utilize them and improve your manuscript. It’s worth it.

Making Time to Write

How many of you reading this blog made a New Year’s resolution to write more in 2016? I know I did! I don’t even make resolutions, usually, but I really wanted to try to write more, and just making it a goal of mine hasn’t panned out in the past. So I was hoping the added importance of it being a New Year’s resolution might help it stick.

Maybe, maybe not. According to statistics from Harris Interactive, about 45 percent of Americans make some sort of goals for the new year. But 1 in 3 have ditched those vows by the end of January. Those stats are pretty dismal. So far I’m not in that one-third who have given up, and hopefully you aren’t either.

I think one of the most important ways to keep your resolution to write more, to finally make this the year when you finish that short story or novel, or get your gardening book completed, is to make time to write. All of us lead frantically busy lives, filled up with work, family obligations, and other appointments. But if we’re serious about writing, we need to make it one of those appointments on our calendar that we don’t cancel or reschedule. I heard advice earlier this month about keeping your resolutions to exercise, and they said to schedule it on your daily calendar just like you would a doctor’s appointment. I think the same holds true for writing. But how do you make time?

woolfOne of my favorite essays of all time is Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. When I was in college and reading this for the first time it riled up the feminist in me. “Yes, women do need a room of their own. A place to go, a place to write, a place to let the creativity flow.” Now, in 2016, a place might not be as hard to get as time. And putting all feminist leanings aside, time might be just as hard for men to find as women.

Just as Virginia Woolf had to make a space to write, a room of her own where she could escape, we need to find that place as well, and carve out time to let our minds work. Here are a few ways to “make” time, and hopefully keep your writing goals.

  1. Get your family on board with your goals. We all have family making demands on us, whether it’s your mother calling every day “just to check in,” your spouse wanting you to do activities with them, or kids constantly needing your attention. And while it’s important to spend time with those you love, you can also be clear that you need some time without distractions. These people are your biggest cheerleaders. Get them on board with your goals, and they’ll be glad to give you a few hours a day to chase your dreams.
  2. Put writing on your calendar. Just like they recommend for exercise, schedule in your writing time. Put it in your phone’s calendar or add it to your daily planner. Once it’s in there, scheduled in pen (or in digital form) it’s easier not to let other things take precedence with your time.
  3. Avoid distractions. Betsy shared The Writer’s Circle’s photo on our All About the Authors Facebook page the other day, a pie chart that shows how writers spend their time at their computer, and Watching YouTube Videos and Reading Facebook Posts were two of the biggest pieces of the pie. Log out of Facebook, leave your phone in the other room, and get to work. This is where having a room of one’s own comes into play. It’s a way to get away from the distractions of life. If you still find yourself staring into space, that’s okay. That’s where the inspiration comes from, right?
  4. Make sure you are giving yourself a big enough chunk of time. I have found it’s better to have a few hours at a stretch, rather than 30 minutes her and an hour there. If that means you can’t write every day, that’s okay. Just make sure on the days you do set aside time for writing it’s enough time to really get into your work and keep the juices flowing. The worst feeling is to be right in the middle of a writing streak and have to go to another appointment.
  5. Figure out what time of day you’re most productive, and start with that. Everyone has different times of day they like to set aside for writing. Some of it might depend more on your family’s schedule than when you’re actually at your best, but hopefully those two will intersect. If you have your best bursts of creativity first thing in the morning, set the alarm clock and get yourself up. If you’re a night owl, work then. The idea is to find a time that works for you, hopefully cutting down on the stare-into-space time.

I am going to try to use these tips to stick to my own writing goals this year. Making it a priority should make all the difference in the world, and I hope it does for you too.

Ten Tips for Self-Editing

To best utilize a professional editor, your manuscript ought to be as perfect as you can get it yourself, first. If you self-edit, you can reduce the cost of editing, as well as allow the editor to see the real heart of your manuscript, when it isn’t obscured by superficial and easily fixable issues. Here are some methods you should try.

1. Use Microsoft Word’s editing options fully

Word has a lot of options to help with your editing. Go to File-> Options-> Proofing-> When correcting spelling and grammar in Word-> Writing Style: Settings-> Style: Sentence length (more than sixty words). Next, run the Spelling & Grammar check and it will give you a blue squiggle underline for every super-long sentence. In the Require section, mark always for the comma before the last item (book publishing uses the serial comma), for punctuation inside quotation marks, and for one space after a period (not two, that style changed about thirty years ago). You can also have Word check for passive verbs, fragments, and clichés. It won’t catch everything by a longshot, but it’s a good starting point.

2. Get rid of time-framing words

If you place one thing after the other in the story, you don’t need to preface it with “then.” Excise these time-framing words such as “all at once,” “began,” “eventually,” “immediately,” “just,” “often,” “proceeded,” “started,” or “suddenly” whenever possible. They are unnecessary, make your writing wordy, and can make your writing feel timid and insecure, like you don’t trust the readers to get from A to B to C.

3. Scrutinize your words

Eyeball every adverb and delete most. Look over nonspecific adjectives like “really,” “super,” and “totally.” Specify or delete any nonspecific words or phrasing like “sort of,” “kind of,” “things,” “something,” and “stuff.” This is when editing online can be helpful as most of these can be addressed using “Find.” Delete every “Being that.” Don’t use complicated words when simple ones will do. Make your verbs active, not passive.Chicago Manual

4. Familiarize yourself with the Chicago Manual of Style

This is the style guide used throughout book publishing. It might be significantly different than what you think are appropriate style choices such as the above mentioned serial comma.

5. Change your font

And do it more than once. Change the font, change the size, change the color. This helps you to be able to see the manuscript in a new context. (But when you are done with editing, change it back to a common serif font su ch as Times New Roman or Garamond and stick to it.)

6. Print the manuscript

While online editing has its advantages, you see things in print that you don’t see on the screen.

7. Read your manuscript out loud

Yes, this will be time-consuming and awkward. However, this exercise will smooth over difficread aloudult phrasing, make dialogue sound more realistic, and highlight errors that the brain fixes for you. Try to read it in a flat voice so you can hear where certain phrasing might be misunderstood without tone. You can also have your computer read it to you which would achieve the same effect.

8. Beginnings and endings

Do read over your beginnings and endings carefully but not just the beginning and end of the book—look at the beginning and end of each chapter. Each chapter should end on a cliffhanger as best you can. Try to keep readers reading. Don’t wrap things up too tightly. And be careful your chapters aren’t too long. Short chapters keep the action moving along.

9. Ask a friend

Ask your most critical, most honest friend for feedback. Assure them of no recriminations. Ask them specific questions, such as, Where did you lose interest? Were you confused at any point? Who was your least favorite character? Did you know why the main character did X? If you had to cut a scene or a character, what would you cut?

10. Put it in a drawer

Forget about the book for a while, as best you can. Put it aside for a monthdrawer or so. Work on other things. Use the time to plow through other responsibilities and your to do list so that when you come back to tackle your manuscript with fresh eyes, you aren’t distracted by other responsibilities.

Write first, edit second. Don’t confuse the creative process with the editing process. And don’t use editing as a way to procrastinate finishing writing. On the other hand, don’t over-edit. Self-editing is a great head start, but even the world’s best writers need a second set of eyes. Learn to know when it’s time to let go.

At that time, we can help.

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