Ah, "The End". I can't think of words I've ever written that were more satisfying. Not even a final paper for my bachelor's or master's degree gave me the rush I had when I typed "The End" on my first manuscript. I began writing at the age of six, so "The End" was more than thirty-three years in the making. I cried for at least an hour. Thanked God over and over again that he had moved me to this point and reflected on the goodness of the writing community that had helped me achieve my dream. I'd like to pass on the ten tips that helped me the most. If you're a writer you may have heard them before, but getting a reminder never hurts, because sometimes we find that we're not really doing the things that people advised us to do either because we forget them, we don't think they'll work, or we just hadn't figured out a way to incorporate it. I know, been there done that, especially the forgot it after I heard it part. I am good for getting a lightbulb moment and then getting home and sitting in the dark. So here are my tips:
1. Plot out your story. There are very few truly organic writers and you're probably not one of them. Take the time to sit down and think through the entire book. If you ever become a professional writer you'll have to do this to sell more books, so learn it out right.
2. Write often, daily if you can. You have to have butt in the chair time to get to "The End", plus writing often keeps the story fresh.
3. Don't self-edit while you're writing. I CANNOT emphasis this enough. That's for advanced writers. Get the first draft down before you go back and try to fix anything. You'll make yourself crazy trying to perfect what you've written. Draft writing and rewriting/editing are different processes, so let them be different.
4. Read craft books and/or take writing classes. Executing a saleable commerical fiction novel is not just art, some of it method. I'm sure you've heard terms like opening hook, beginning, middle, end, goal, motivation and conflict, black moment, three act set up, scene and sequel, etc, etc... These are some of the components to a story and no good novel is written without them. Learn how from the experts and save yourself time.
5. Do the stuff you learn in the books and classes. Check your writing to make sure you're practicing what you've learned. For example if you read a book on description, look at your descriptions and analyze if you're doing what the craft books suggest.
6. Join a critique group or find some one to help you with your work. If you dont' have access to a local writer's group, try an online group or invest in a writing coach (like me!). Be prayerful about this. The Lord will lead you to the right people.
7. Be teachable. Learn from the critique process. Take what you can use and leave what you can't in the wind, but learn something, because in most critiques there's something of value that can help you.
8. Reach out to other writers. I know in the Christian Fiction community, most authors and writers are friendly people who love to help and share advice. Don't ask anyone to read your entire manuscript and help you edit it, that's unreasonable, but don't be shy.
9. Read well written books. Learn from the best.
10. Trust the creativity is really inside you. If God has called your to be a writer, you have it in you, you just have to do the work to get it out.
Hope this helps.
About my novel - Secrets and Lies
It’s hard enough to keep a secret without telling a lie, but when you’re married it’s almost impossible. In Secrets and Lies, the Morgan’s marriage is collapsing under the weight of both. Against the backdrop of old memories, new enemies, and a plot for revenge this drama unfolds addressing several relationship issues; communication, honesty and trust among them. The story takes readers into the complex mind of Dr. Jonah Morgan, a man who’s dedicated his life to physically healing children, but he’s emotionally and spiritually sick himself. And can his wife, Faith, keep the “faith” after Jonah’s accused of sexual harassment? Or when a woman’s fed up, is she truly fed up? Find out in Secrets and Lies, coming December 2009 from Urban Christian Books.
Click here to read or listen to prequel to the novel...