Sometimes another person can pointedly put it all into perspective. Today, my friend, Steve Soderquist, is willing to share his list of Do's and Don'ts.
MY PERSONAL LIST OF DO'S AND DON'TS ON WRITING:
- DO write everyday. You can go back and edit crappy work—you can't edit no work.
- DO remember that if your writing is boring to you, it will probably be boring to the reader as well.
- DO be honest when you critique your work. 'Good enough' is a good euphemism for 'this sucks.'
- DO read. Read a lot. Read everything. Read every genre. If it's in English and you didn't write it, chances are you will learn something from it.
- DO be involved with your stories and love your characters, even the hated ones. The moment you don't care about them or give them attention, neither will anyone else.
- DO support your fellow authors. In all of history, not one successful person has 'made it on their own,' but surrounded themselves with like-minded people.
- DO be kind to your editors. They are not there to destroy your novel, but to help you make it better.
- DO your research! Even in a fiction novel, nothing will punch through the fabric of belief faster than being too lazy to go and learn about what you don't know. Others will know it though, believe that.
- DO finish what you start. As people, we get habitualized by repetition. Quitting once can easily turn into quitting most of the time and never finishing a manuscript. Finishing it, even if it sucks eggs and will never see the light of day, teaches us we CAN do it… and you will get better at it.
- DO be patient and steadfast.
And now... the other side...
- DON'T ignore critique. Both the good and the bad are equal gifts that tell you someone took the time to let you know their thoughts.
- DON'T write from your mind all the time, as no one else knows what you are thinking and can make for a confusing story. Write from your heart as well.
- DON'T 'over-explain' every scene, person, situation and backdrop. Let the reader use their imagination as well. As artists, we paint with words, so best to keep it abstract at times so the reader is also a participant.
- DON'T rush words to get to a conclusion… ever. Writing is mechanical—learn how to slow the reader down when needed and speed them up when the story calls for it. It is not a matter of word-count, but word-usage.
- DON'T send your work to a potential publisher or agent until you have shined up your manuscript to a mirror gloss. Remember this: If you don't by now hate the thing, you probably haven't re-read and edited it enough.
- DON'T be unrealistic about being successful. If every writer turned into a zombie overnight, we would be quite a formidable force to be reckoned with. Finishing a manuscript and even selling it is the first of many, many more steps.
- DON'T compromise your work on the basis of a word count. Stories should tell themselves. You are along for the ride recording what you see. When it ends, it ends.
- DON'T share an unfinished manuscript with anyone except only very close friends or family. Eighty percent of the time, you will change many things as you edit and will confuse people with preemie work.
- DON'T be argumentative with your editor. With a good rapport they may actually give in on some of their mad ideas.
- DON'T let anyone tell you that you are not good enough. No one is until they get better.
There you have it. As a writer, these are some very good pointers.
Who is Steve Soderquist? He began writing at seventeen with no experience but knew it was something he wanted to pursue. He started a book called, 'Minds Eye' at that time on an old Royal typewriter and shelved the beginning manuscript after about two months, knowing he would need to learn quite a bit more to put out quality writing. Thirty years later and even though the writing muscle had certainly atrophied, he was getting that tickle like you get in the back of your throat when a cold is coming on.
After many writing courses and seminars, 'One For The Road' was published and motivated him to propel forward. When the novel 'Farm House' was completed and a contract was signed with Damnation Publishers, he knew he found his calling. Steve settled as down as a full-time author and has planned three more books in the saga of the people involved with 'One For The Road' and 'Farm House'. While working on these titles, five other working novels are also being pursued. Steve and his girlfriend, fellow author Laura Ranger who co-authored the next novel to come out, now live in Brandon, Mississippi.
To learn more about Steve Soderquist, visit him at geomancor.wix.com/stevesoderquist
Farm House is available via Amazon.com and DamnationBooks.com.
One For The Road is available via Amazon.com.
I guess they say ignorance is bliss because I try to ignore everything but the story when I'm writing - but this list of do's and don'ts is the key to editing too. Great reminder.
Great guest post. Thank you, Bob for always providing excellent tips. I look forward to your posts each week.