Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Staying Focused.

Over the month of August I am going to be phenomenally busy. After receiving my edited manuscript last night - three days early, (thanks, Scott), my nose will be on the grindstone until I've completed my corrections.

Although I am extremely happy with my critique, this is not the time to become blase. I still have to go through everything with a fine tooth comb. Receiving an edited piece of work is fantastic but it's also a critical time where things can still go wrong. It is vital I remove my head from the clouds before I start work.

So, how am I going to do this?

  • I am going to commit a certain amount of time each day to work on my edits. I am also conscious of the fact that this type of work I cannot do over long intervals without a proper break in-between. I still want to see properly at the end of the day without an eye strain induced headache.

  • I am going to make my book my top priority once again and focus on that before anything else. This is my favourite point because it is the perfect excuse to let the dishes build up and the dust gather instead of suffering from burn out trying to do everything at once. I am going to give editing my all and then push myself a little further.

  • I am going to set aside some 'me' time. A half hour slot where I can focus on doing something I love. Reading a favourite book or taking my beloved dogs out for walkies. Something to do to let my brain recharge and focus on another activity.

So I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful editor, Scott Morgan, for giving me the chance to grow into a better writer.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Mistakes that make Writers Fail.

As I progress with my writing career I still follow one main ambition. And that ambition is to learn something that will benefit my writing every day. Whether it's reading more books in my desired genre, reading blogs on the craft of writing or just reading advice from other authors, I always make sure I do at least one productive thing every single day.

But on the writer's journey mistakes are often made. And worryingly these errors can have major setbacks for the writer's career.

Here's a list of the most obvious mistakes.

  • Lack of research. Before you start writing, make sure your ideas are clear ones and ones you can follow through. Make sure everything is researched and don't make the mistake of thinking that just because a certain subject interests you, you already know everything there is to know. If you're writing a crime book featuring psychopaths, make sure you know every trait of this disorder. Research will only make your book more believable in the end.

  • Learn from your mistakes. It is often said the art of writing cannot be taught. You either have the flair or not. However, while I think some aspects of good writing can be taught, I strongly believe the only way to improve is to keep writing. When you start out at the very beginning you'll often find you have to rewrite certain parts extensively. If you make repeated mistakes analyse what you're doing wrong.

  • Repeatedly doubting yourself.  Every writer experiences negative thoughts about themselves from time to time. Every writer loses confidence in their ability to write. But it's crucial you keep going until you pass this stage. If you find you cannot move on, go back to your work and look at it from a different angle.

  • Failing to give a 100%. I have a brilliant poem on a tea towel called 'A Prayer for the Stressed.' In the middle of the verse it says: 'Help me to always give a 100% at work. 12% on Monday. 23% on Tuesday. 40% on Wednesday. 20% on Thursday and 5% on Friday.' You should always try your best every single day. Remember your reader at all times. Would you want them to read shoddy work, especially after they have spent their hard earned money on it?

  • Being overconfident. I think this is the worst mistake of them all. Loving your work too much and being totally oblivious to all its flaws. Threatening your editor with their live if they dare to offer one piece of constructive criticism. As a writer you should be open to all opinions. I'm not saying to have to listen to every single one of them but you should be able to take new things on board that will help you grow into a more successful author.
How about you, have you got any more mistakes to add to the list? What has been your biggest mistake to date?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Why Editing is so Crucial.

Yesterday I saw a thread in a writing forum that is ubiquitous to the indie community. Never the less it still gets me every time I see the issue. I am not going to provide links to the thread or post anything that will identify the person because I think that's unfair, but my opinion on this subject will never change ...

All writers whether they are traditional or self published need a professional editor.

I replied to the thread and said in a cheerful manner that even my editor has an editor for his work, and this is a man who has been a professional copy editor for twenty years.

But we all know why the question always pops up, don't we? If it wasn't for this particular factor then hardly anyone would mention it. I'm talking about how much the earth shattering cost is to writers to have their beloved manuscript edited.

When editors quote their clients for their services they should, by rights, produce a health warning to accompany it. Especially for a first time writer who has no has idea what sort of pontential poverty they are inflicting upon themselves if they decide to pay the fee. But lets flip this argument the other way and say: 'How can anyone afford not to get their work edited?'

Self publishing is huge today and there are many books out there, so why should a reader pay for something that is not professional? You wouldn't buy a child's car seat that hadn't been vetted to a professional standard so why should self publishing be any different?

An editor can do so many things for your work. Here are some of the most important topics they  cover:
  • They analyse the flow and structure of your story. They will also check for continuity issues - such as whether a character has red hair in the first chapter and brown in the fifth.
  • They address correct word usage, punctuation, spelling, and style.
  • They will correct extra spaces and any other errors, whether obvious or subtle.
When a professional copy ediotor has done their work you know it's the best it can be.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Should Writers Follow Rules?

As I'm plotting my third book I have come to the conclusion that I will follow my own rules, and I will only take advice if it's applicable to me.

When a writer first starts writing, it's a common procedure to follow the advice of everyone as the writer only wants to do their best. That's understandable but it's important to follow your own instincts too. As a writer gains confidence in their ability to write, the realisation will come not everything works for each individual. Writers will find that certain rules contradict everything they've heard from another author, so it's important to keep some perspective. As long as you apply common sense you will be fine.

I only follow two rules. First, I make sure I only write for me - my number one goal is to entertain myself first before I even attempt to entertain anyone else. And secondly I make sure I write every day. I treat my writing as a full time job, and in full time jobs you work every day. Sometimes if my writing is going really well I will write over the weekend. Writing is one of the most important things I do with my life so it seems obvious I treat it as a career.
The most important thing you can do is find out which rules work best for you. Then there will be no stopping you.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Why it's Important to Gain Inspiration from other Writers

Last Friday I sent my second manuscript to my editor so now I've officially finished my second book. I celebrated with champagne, feeling happy that I'll soon be able to publish my work. But if you're thinking I am now looking forward to a well deserved rest you're wrong.

Instead I am busy researching my third book. I made a decision at the start of the year once I had finished writing I would devote all my free time to reading the genre I would like to write. But what I'm doing now is far more complex than just picking up any old book and casually reading a few pages here and there. I am devoting a whole day to just reading a few chapters. This might not sound like much and it wouldn't be if I was just skimming over the words. But once I have finished reading I am making detailed notes about the plot line, structure, character development and so on.

All writers agree that if you want to write good stories you must read good stories first. But you must also analyse every sentence, understand every word and realise why the story is going in one particular direction. It is not enough to read to be entertained, you also need to read in-between the lines.

Reading different stories also helps you form new ideas of your own. Making notes from best selling books from well established authors is not the same as plagiarism - plagiarism only happens when you copy a substantial chunk word for word. I make notes to help my understanding of the story - it's never my intention to copy every single detail. It's also worth stating here that ideas cannot be plagiarised - plagiarism can only cover words.

So this is why reading is so good for writers. Reading helps you to spark ideas of your own that may have come from a particular story. But your ideas go off in another direction instead of following the same thought pattern. You can make up your own mind whether the book made a good story or you can state what you would have done differently to make the story better. Either way, reading helps your brain become familiar with stories, making you a more developed writer.