Wednesday, November 21, 2018

One word at a time

What advice would you offer a new writer wanting to get their first novel published in today’s highly competitive publishing environment?

by Dietrich

We all have different habits and routines that help get it done. If you’re new to writing, it may help to read a couple of how-to books like Stephen King’s On Writing, or Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. And listen to those who have been at it for a while. Check out associations like The Author’s Guild, Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of Canada. Some offer directories, workshops, seminars, events and conferences where you can connect with your tribe.  

Listening to writers at talks and panel discussions can be a big help. Most of the writers I’ve met along the way are generous with helpful advice and support, willing to share their experiences and point a new writer in the right direction. Then take everything you hear and adapt what works best for you.

Look up writer events like ’Noir at the Bar’ in your town, find out who organizes them and try and get in the lineup. It’s a chance to read your work in front of other writers and a receptive crowd.

Be patient. Don’t be anxious to get a story published before it’s time. Write for the simple joy of getting lost in the worlds and characters you create. Write as often as you can, develop a voice and a style that just flows out of you. Get lost in it, block out the real world and all the white noise. Find your way into it every time you sit down to write.

“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day. It helps.” — John Steinbeck

“If I started to wait for moments of inspiration, I would never finish a book. Inspiration for me comes from a regular effort.” — Mario Vargas Llosa

When you have a first draft complete, step back from it. Take a break, and then look at it with fresh eyes. This way it’s easier to spot things that need to be reworked, parts that should come out, or something new you want to include.

Read what inspires you to write. Read a lot.

“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” — Stephen King

Avoid all things negative. Anything that drags you down will mess up the creative flow, get you second-guessing yourself and keep you from writing at your best.

Every great or even every very good writer makes the world over according to his own specifications. It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.” — Raymond Carver

Don’t submit a story until it’s really ready. Don’t rush because you’re dying to get something into print. It’s more important to find your voice and work on a style all your own. Polish your story and make it as tight as you can before letting anybody see it.

Don’t try to write a best seller. You can’t force something like that, plus there’s no magic formula to writing one. Don’t try to sound like anybody else, just write from the heart and put out the best book you can. Write it for yourself.


RJ Harlick said...

Well said, Dietrich.

Susan C Shea said...

Such good counsel for writers, Dietrich. You have people focusing on the work, not the selling, and we all need to be reminded of the essential thing we do. I enjoyed the quotes too.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks Robin and Susan.