1. Diligence – You must push forward, even when you don’t want to.
2. Determination- Believe in yourself. Trust that others will see the beauty in your written word.
3. Dedication- Once you commit to becoming a writer set aside time each day to hone the craft.
4. Drive – A writer with drive and passion will eventually get noticed.
5. Desolation- Find solitude so you can create without interruptions.
6. Daily Routines- Writing should be done every day. If you set a routine, you will be less likely to break it.
7. Deadlines- Give yourself deadlines. Eg. Chapter one must be finished by Monday. The short story has to be completed by Saturday.
8. Dreams- Dream big. Never let anyone make you feel that your dreams are not possible.
9. Desire- You must want to write. If writing doesn’t feel like a necessity it might not be your passion.
10. Decision making abilities- Chapters need to be edited. Word counts need to be cut. Favorite sentences need to be chopped. It’s not always easy making decisions as a writer but it is required. Characters need to love, get hurt, evolve and occasionally die. You have to be able to make those decisions in order for your masterpiece to appear.
All writers edit. How we edit may differ. Some of us might play music while reading through the work in progress. Some may need complete silence. The purpose of editing is to re-read the work written in hopes of catching mistakes or improving the rhythm of the sentences.
How many times have you read through your work and thought, sounds good, only to have a critique partner point out that you repeated the same word twice? You have tons of run on sentences. You called your character Lori in the first paragraph and Cindy in the second. I have found that reading stories aloud helps highlight these types of mistakes.
Our brains are much quicker than our mouths. When we scan through works without reading aloud we tend to see what is supposed to be there instead of what actually is. Last night a Facebook friend sent me a brain test where all the words were jumbled but somehow I was actually able to make out exactly what the sentence said. Eg. Our M1ND5 C4N DO 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5. Were you able to read that sentence? Chances are you were. This is the exact type of thing that happens when we are editing silently.
Reading aloud slows us down. When we read our words out loud we are forced to read more slowly and pay closer attention to what we have written.
Reading aloud also allows us to hear the rhythm of our words. Words should have a flow and read effortlessly. There is nothing worst than having an interruption of your flow. It will stop a reader dead in their tracks and take away from the story.
Editing aloud might not help you catch each and every mistake but it will most likely help you catch a few more than you would have.
Do you have any editing tips you would like to share?
How many times have you edited your work? If you are anything like me, you have scanned over your manuscript too many times to count. It’s what we do. We write it, read it, adjust it, finish it and then come back to it. Upon coming back to it, we fix it, add to it, read it aloud and then send it off to someone else (usually a critique partner) to do the same.
No matter how many times we look at it ourselves, chances are someone else will see something we do not see. My critique partner and I were discussing this topic this past weekend. We shared thoughts on how amazing it is that we can’t pick up on things we write as easily as a fresh pair of eyes can. In her manuscript she chose a very creative name for one of her leading characters. She must have played around with the spelling before she decided on how she would spell it. As I skimmed through her words, I noticed that in some areas she had it spelled one way and then others a completely different way.
She noticed missing punctuation in my manuscript and a few missing or double usage of words.
No matter how many times either one of us checked our work there were still things we missed. I read once that when you are reading your own work your thoughts are filling in the gaps missing on paper. If it is not your thoughts it is easier for you to spot something missing, misspelled or overused. We all make mistakes, but it is better if we have another set of eyes looking for the mistakes we make. Four eyes, six eyes, eight eyes, are all better than two when it comes to perfecting your work.
This past year has provided me with many ups and downs. I received five full requests, and thought for sure by year’s end I would be announcing that I finally landed myself an agent. When the first one came back rejected stating “I’m not connecting in the way I need to be,” I thought, Okay, that’s just one person’s opinion. But when they all came back rejected with identical words, I knew it was time to go back to the manuscript. I gathered all of their rejections and came to the conclusion (something I think I already knew but didn’t want to believe) that my characters were flat. I received some positive feedback such as “This is an extremely marketable idea” and “The plot is good and pace is nice” but it was the last rejection that clicked and made me realize there is no depth to my characters. The very kind agent added a few more words to her I’m not connecting in the way I need to. She specifically said it was the characters she wasn’t connecting with. I felt embarrassed because here I was writing blogs about creating characters and questions to ask them. I should have been following my own tips and advice. She did leave her door open and said she would be willing to look at a rewrite or any other queries I might have.
I have been given a gift. An insight to why exactly my manuscript has failed to get me an agent. The day following her rejection, I headed to the book store and bought myself two writing books. I am ready to breathe life into the characters that mean so much to me. In my mind these characters were very much alive which is why I think they were dead on paper. I failed to add background stories, I gave no inclinations of how they ended up in each other’s lives (despite the fact I knew). I failed them. I failed myself.
Today I see through different eyes. I am prepared for the challenge. A story is nothing if you don’t connect with the characters. Wish me luck!