“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer makes all his sentences short, or that he avoid all the detail and treat his subject only in outline, but that every word tell.”
William Strunk, Jr.
Hope you have an amazing holiday filled with love, joy, and peace!!!
If your heroine is a beautiful actress, a fine painter, an engineer, a cabinetmaker, a superb cook, a daring test pilot, a whiz at electronics, a doctor, a lawyer, and an Indian chief, don’t you think you ought to humanize her at least to the extent of giving her a zit on the end of her nose? Dean R. Koontz – How To Write Best Selling Fiction
Something to think about.
I write a lot about rejection because it’s a part of life if you’re an unpublished author seeking a literary agent or publishing contract. Many would-be authors allow a simple rejection to end their attempts at writing. Their thought – I must not be good enough. Well maybe that’s true, but odds are it is not.
Manuscripts are rejected for numerous reasons, and many have nothing to do with your work. So what are you supposed to do if you receive a rejection?
A writer not being able to deal with rejection, is like a doctor not being able to deal with death. It’s going to happen, and like successful authors, you will have to learn to live with it.
“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”
Enough already! At least that’s how I feel sometimes. I’ve been through my book more times than I can count. In my own defense, no one taught me how to write. I had a great story idea and decided to give it a whirl.
I thought it was ready, and then real life happened. My wonderful work was rejected by the five agents I sent it to. One of them must have seen something promising, she took it upon herself to provide me feedback about what I was doing wrong (there was a long list), and what I needed to do to improve my work.
I was totally humiliated. Grammatical and Structural errors are kindergarten stuff and completely unacceptable. My issues with head-hopping and on-the-nose-writing were another story. Those terms were totally foreign to me. I wasn’t a professional novelist. I thought all you had to do was put words on paper and create a wonderful story that everyone wanted to read. How was I to know there were rules?
And what was the deal with dragging dialogue? My people were talking. How was I suppose to know dialogue moved the story forward or had to have some significance? I couldn’t believe I sent an agent such inferior work!
When you’re a newbie, you don’t know how bad your work is, because you lack the knowledge and skills necessary to produce publishable work. While there may be a few prodigies out there, chances are, you aren’t one of them. Sorry!
Like myself and many others, you’re going to have to pay your dues and learn the craft. Then you will be ready to write that New York Times bestseller.
One of my favorite sayings is, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m not sure where I picked that up from, but it’s true. I wasn’t intentionally sending out bad work. I just didn’t know.
“If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”
You just finished that first novel or at least you thought you did. Now the work begins. Pull out the pen and start cutting. Hopefully, red ink runs in your veins. You’re going to need a lot of it.
How do you know what to cut? You put a lot of thought into those words, and it all sounds good and provides useful information to help the reader follow what’s going on.
It comes down to two things.
I love Jerry Jenkins. We all have our favorite bloggers and teachers of the craft. Jerry Jenkins is probably my favorite. Why? Because he’s clear, concise, and easy to follow. I’m using an example from one of his blogs to help you understand editing. I would encourage you to visit his sight. You won’t be disappointed.
Paige’s phone chirped, telling her she had a call. She slid her bag off her shoulder, opened it, pulled out her cell, hit the Accept Call button and put it to her ear.
“This is Paige,” she said.
She recognized her fiancé’s voice. “Jim, darling! Hello!”
“Where are you, Babe?”
“Just got to the parking garage.”
“No more problems with the car then?”
“Oh, the guy at the gas station said he thinks it needs a wheel alignment.”
“Good. We still on for tonight?”
“Looking forward to it, Sweetie.”
“Did you hear about Alyson?”
“No, what about her?”
Here’s a good example of how that scene should be rendered:
Paige’s phone chirped. It was her fiancé, Jim, and he told her something about one of their best friends that made her forget where she was.
“Cancer?” she whispered, barely able to speak. “I didn’t even know Alyson was sick. Did you?”
We don’t need to be told that the chirp told her she had a call, that her phone is in her purse, that her purse is over her shoulder, that she has to open it to get her phone, push a button to take the call, identify herself to the caller, be informed who it is. I think you’re getting the point.
This is a good example of dragging dialogue as well. It’s not necessary and adds fluff without any real purpose. Don’t distract with minutia. Give the reader the adventure they signed up for when they chose to purchase your book. Take the reader with Paige when she says:
“I need to call her, Jim. I’ve got to cancel my meeting. And I don’t know about tonight…”
Something to think about.