Ever since accepting the invitation to blog here, I've been wracking my brain for a topic. A new, fresh topic, done in a new, fresh way. Those seem to be watchwords lately in the publishing world, "new", "fresh", and the ever-popular "high concept". What these words mean in the real world, I have no clue.
So at the risk of writing "old", "stale" and "boring", I give you five things I've learned since I decided to be a writer.
1. The work doesn't end when you type "the end". First drafts are just that, drafts. Rough first run-throughs to get the story on paper (or screen). Then the hard work of revision, editing, and critiquing begins. And is repeated as needed, often ad nauseum. Even when you think you're done and your story is as perfect as it will ever be, some contest judge will point out that starting your story by describing a rain storm is a bit cliche. And that the story doesn't really get going until chapter two, so you should cut out chapter one, entirely. The same chapter one you spent hours polishing to perfection.
2. GMC is not a car company. Goal, Motivation and Conflict, as explained by Debra Dixon, is brilliant. As a concept. Putting it into action is hard. Goals are fairly easy, i.e. save the farm, catch the bad guy, prevent Armageddon. Conflicts are a bit more difficult, particularly since current wisdom dictates having conflict on every page. (Wait...what?) My poor "go along to get along" brain quails at the thought of making things nasty for my heroes. And finally, motivation, which requires digging deeply into character and back-story. For me this is like bamboo slivers under fingernails.
3. The rules of POV (point of view) are the few that absolutely, positively cannot be broken, lest you be accused of the dreaded head hopping. It seems that only Nora the Great is allowed to switch POV within a scene. The rest of us have to stay in one head for the entire scene, and some powers-that-be even suggest staying in one POV for the whole chapter! My very first critique session taught me about POV, a tough lesson.
4. You can't sell a story unless you put it out into the world to be laughed and sneered at. Oh...sorry...my personal insecurity was showing. Hitting that "send" button is terrifying. And rarely do you sell on your first try. Or second. Or tenth. This is not a profession for the thin-skinned. Getting a rejection hurts and there's no way you can't take it personally. The urge to call up that silly editor and tell her why she's wrong may be all consuming, but it must be ignored. You don't want to piss off editors.
5. Selling a book to a publisher may feel like you've reached the pinnacle atop cloud nine, but its only half the journey. You still need to work with a professional editor, copy editor, cover designer, and marketing team. Lots of fun stuff. Oh, and you have to wait. Checking email every five minutes to see if your editor has sent another batch of edits is fine and dandy, but it won't get your next book written. And you do need to write a next book; otherwise you'll be a one-hit wonder. (Cue the laughing and sneering.)
There you go, a few of the nuggets I've learned along the way. No doubt there are a few mineshafts full of stuff I'll learn as I go along. In the meantime, my first book has just been released from The Wild Rose Press and I'd love it if you'd take a look, read the excerpt and admire the beautiful cover.
Lu's debut novel, Where There's Heat, was released Wed, July 21st by The Wild Rose Press. Check out the cover and read an excerpt here: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/where-theres-heat-p-4137.html
And check out Luanna's website here: http://www.luannanau.com/