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 What's your best advice for new writers?

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Malcolm
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PostSubject: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:39 am

Yesterday, I was a guest on Mark David Gerson's Blogtalk radio show at Red River Writers called "The Muse and You." http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redRiverWritersLive/2009/07/29/Red-River-Writers-Live-The-Muse-You

My half hour went by without injury or any arrests.

One of the questions that came in via the chat window was "What advice do I have for new writers?"

It's a standard question. I seldom hear insurance salesmen, brain surgeons, or mobsters being asked for a short, pithy piece of advice about how to get into the biz. I'm never sure how to answer this.

I think I said one needs to get to the point where s/he can write first drafts without editing every line as it shows up on the page.

No doubt, the rest of you have been asked similar questions. Within a radio-show format where you have maybe 30 seconds to respond, how would you answer this question?

Malcolm
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:05 am

What I would say on a radio talk show and what I think are not necessarily the same thing. In fact, they are not.

I would probably say, "Stick at it and don't give up until you succeed."

I think the best advice I could give would be: don't expect others to be as interested in your stories as you are in writing them. Find out everything you possible can about what agents/publishers are looking for and write something they want to buy.

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Don Stephens
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:25 am

Develop a thick skin and be able to accept criticism!
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:43 am

Study. Learn all you can about the craft of writing and then just sit down and write. There's no substitute for getting words on a page. You'll be surprised at how much better you will get it you write a few pages every day. Oh, and pray that God has given you at least a touch of writing talent.
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:48 am

I'd say to learn the techniques to turn a dull story into one that readers can't put down, no matter the genre.

Don's so right. You can't overcome a newbie's mistakes unless you first acknowledge, then learn from them - even when it hurts.

If your talk is active, Malcolm, I'll listen. Congratulations!
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Abe F. March
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:18 pm

For new writers.
Write about something you know. Credibility is a big first step.
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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:48 pm

Forget it, buster, and take up podiatry.
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:21 pm

Foot in mouth rather than word of mouth? Or are you passing the book?

I'm listening now, Malcolm. You started writing in high school. You're a dabbler. You're a rule breaker. You're learning to go with the flow. You're a literary fiction fan. You learn as you write. Me too! Well done!

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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:03 pm

OK, I'm mad because I flunked Malcolm's advice. When working on fiction, whether it's a 2,000 word shorty or a 20,000 word novella I start by reading everything that has gone before, changing words, dropping sentences, whatever I feel needs to be done. Then I add new stuff. Do that every day until it's finished, then go over it again 6, 8, 10 times, whatever it takes. I like it that way and it works for me.
On his book that won an Edgar as best of the year, Arthur Maling said he spent two full weeks trying to get the protagonist from one side of a street to the other.
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:17 pm

I wrote The Power of Persuasion is six weeks but it took a year to edit. The edited version wasn't better than the original. I polished it to a shine but it didn't outshine the original. The two versions are different stories using the same information. The first is just as enjoyable to read as the second. It is, however, full of mistakes, typos and cliches. None of which really spoil the story and, in an odd way, add to the fun of it.

I've added the original first chapter:

http://www.publishedauthors.org/first-chapters-f12/the-power-of-persuasion-version-1-part-1-t2955.htm

I'll add the first chapter of version 2 tomorrow.

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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:21 pm

Shelagh,

Sticking to it is a pretty good response in a radio arena.

Your other response, others not being as interested in one's stories as he or she is, is on point, too. I'm always surprised by the people who appear on forums and the first thing they do is dump a 2,500-word story on the board and ask for critiques.

Rather rude and presumptuous, I think.

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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:24 pm

Ain't that the truth, Don.

Brenda, the show is active, or was today. It can also be downloaded which is better if you only want to hear my part which is 30 minutes into the show.

Abe, sometimes I wonder why people pick stuff they know nothing about for their first try at fiction. Even with a lot of research, the thing is likely to seem wrong.

Malcolm
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:30 pm

Dick: Podiatry? Might work. I usually suggest grave digging as an alternative career. I wrote "The Sun Singer" the way you describe, Dick, write a little, edit a little, write a little, edit a little.

Shelagh: Thanks for listening. I see that you did not mention my comment about being drunk when I sent off the query letter. (Actually, I wasn't.).

One thing some people complain about with editing between the first and last versions of a book is that in finding all the errors, they also edited the sparkle and spirit out of the story as well. I gather that didn't happen in your case, Shelagh.

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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:10 am

Malcolm wrote:
One thing some people complain about with editing between the first and last versions of a book is that in finding all the errors, they also edited the sparkle and spirit out of the story as well. I gather that didn't happen in your case, Shelagh.
I've added the first chapter of the novel (which you have already read) to the First Chapters board. I would invite anyone (guest or member) to critique the two versions and offer reasons why the manuscript would not attract an agent/publisher. My take on it (most of the London publishers suggested that I needed to find an agent -- they warned me it would be difficult!), is that, without help, producing a manuscript is only part of the deal. Just as important is knowing someone in the publishing business who can help you find the right agent. Then, you have to be prepared to make the changes necessary to ensure that a publisher will buy. Agents only take risks on work they can sell. As a first time author, unless you are writing to a strict formula (Mills & Boon romance novels), you will need help. I tried but probably did not try hard enough to find an agent. For me, the enjoyment was very much in the writing and I didn't care enough about how much others might enjoy reading it.

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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:38 am

Most of my stories contain a great deal of dialogue. That's where dropping a word here and there can help keep it realistic, or as realistic as written dialogue can ever be.

I always keep in mind the advice of Bill Gault: "You have to rewrite, but be careful. You might be cutting out the good stuff."
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:09 am

Bottom line advice, Marie. One needs to start with that.

Malcolm
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:14 am

Shelagh,

I've met successful professional writers on line who will spend a lot of time in forums answering questions about the business, talking plot and characters, and helping new writers find sources and references.

But they tend to be very very selective about writing their agents on one's behalf or even allowing you to write a letter (using their name) saying they suggested you contact an agent or publisher.

I can understand the reticence, but it often seems more protective than necessary since it's so hard for new people to get a foot in the door without a little help.

Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Sat Dec 05, 2009 10:56 am

If you were here Dick I would agree with you...since you're not: I still agree with you.

Domenic
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:12 pm

State the purpose of your book before pursuing it into writing. You will be firmly directed if you know your purpose. Second, develop a strategic book marketing plan.
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lin
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:32 am

Get a real job.  And a rich wife
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:38 am

don_harold wrote:
State the purpose of your book before pursuing it into writing. You will be firmly directed if you know your purpose. Second, develop a strategic book marketing plan.

Maybe I got this wrong but shouldn't you leave the book marketing to, you know, your publisher?
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:48 am

Knowing your book's potential market and how to reach it is a necessary component of the book proposal, at least when you are working with university presses, as I was with my book.

I wish I had gone into more depth at the time. My invariable response was that they liked the book, but didn't see it as marketable.

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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:42 am

From someone who has gotten several, "It is a fine work, but we question its marketability" I agree with looking at the importance of marketability.

I am cleaning out files and have multiple writing files. I am very glad to have decided to do this cleaning project. Some of this writing is not good enough for even my eyes. Some is journal writing, which is written for no one but me anyway. Then when I would get frustrated with someone, I'd write them a letter, but not send them. So there are lots of letters. I can't believe how frustrated I was with people. But you have to know that this was when my six children were between 13 and 25 years old, which makes it more understandable. But these letters were not meant for anyone's eyes, and are now in the garbage.

I really loved those people and always have. Hopefully I worked out my frustrations with the letters, and then was loving.

And was all that writing useful? I think so. The early writing was pretty much cut and dry, "this is what is happening" and later it is more filled with feelings and more imaginative words, more showing than telling.

So, my advice. Begin. That's it. Just begin. Write, write, write. Notes, little essays, little stories.

Carol
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:56 am

alj wrote:
Knowing your book's potential market and how to reach it is a necessary component of the book proposal, at least when you are working with university presses, as I was with my book.

I wish I had gone into more depth at the time. My invariable response was that they liked the book, but didn't see it as marketable.

Ann

Was it non-fiction? Non-fiction is whole 'nother thing.
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PostSubject: Re: What's your best advice for new writers?   Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:57 am

from don-harold's website:

Quote :
BookWhirl.com is an online book marketing service company,
specializing in providing low-cost, high-quality marketing services for
fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books. Through its unique, inexpensive
book marketing services, BookWhirl.com helps authors promote their
published works more effectively and connect to readers in a more
effective, more efficient system.

BookWhirl.com employs an experienced team of online marketing
strategists, ad copywriters, graphic artists, and web designers, whose
combined talents ensure an effective online marketing campaign at
easily affordable rates.

He has an agenda to promote. It would be better if he posted this in a more relevant thread.


Last edited by zizban on Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:13 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Formatting)
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