Writing tips. Everyone has their own special favorite writing tips. I have to be honest, I don’t know if mine are any better than yours or anyone else’s for that matter. I once heard Marion Zimmer Bradley say your writing wasn’t up to snuff if you couldn’t get a short story published. I also once heard Fantasy author Melanie Rawn say you shouldn’t try to get published until you’d written a million words. I think both ideas are sound, and both are crap. Why? Because as many of my readers know, it’s hard as …erm, stone to even find some place to publish a short story these days. The writing a million words thing? I think it’s a good idea on the surface (practice makes perfect, after all), you can at least try. I’ve done it. True. I just went through all my miscellaneous files of manuscripts (those that I could easily find, mind you. I know of at least two that got lost to a hungry, hungry computer glitch and some that I just can’t track down). I’ve written 2,005,615 words, (not counting every single damned short story, nor the novel I wrote in a notebook in the ’90s and didn’t have the stamina to retype–pre my first computer) over the last 20 years. Yes, that’s over two million words and starting the sprint toward three million.
That’s including even the ones that made it out the door–only a handful of which have you seen (The Artist’s Inheritance, Caitlin’s Book of Shadows, House of Cards (Reign of Tarot #1), and Passion’s Sacred Dance and my published short stories) plus some that are in the queue for you to see very soon. That’s…10-14 novels, hundreds of short stories and not counting miscellaneous essays, articles and blog posts (and email). Yikes! Is it any wonder I got carpal tunnel? Yet I shall gladly add to that total before I die. Pry that pen out of my hand, go ahead. I dare you to try.
Now, thanks to my notorious penchant for waffling and many, many years of not having great confidence in myself, (and the fact that several of those manuscripts constitute side and direct sequels to stuff never published) I only managed to have four novel/novella length pieces published–so far. But now that I look back on the entire body of work, I see several manuscripts with the potential to be so (time, money, and luck will determine whether they are). Quite frankly, I am excited to see some of them in better shape than I expected but… Will I go *backwards* rather than forwards? *shakes head* I don’t know. But as I always say never say never. With a little revisions and gussying up, who knows?
On the other hand, if you’re in your fifties or sixties and just starting out, um, that million words might be hard to hit, so that’s why I say I think it’s both a good idea, and crap. As long as you’ve got the drive, do it. Write several manuscripts and when you feel you’re up to snuff do it. Note I don’t recommend publishing your first finished book ever. No write at least three if you can stifle the urge to push publish long enough. Get at least one person to read it and tell you if you fouled something up. Then write another. Then you can consider submitting and/or publishing. (If self publishing doesn’t become a stigma again). Moral: write, write, write!
Oh and I don’t mean that you should fulfill that million words with one word, over and over and over, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. I mean full, real stories. Even if your first couple attempts are crap, at least it’s practice.
Also, read. Conventional wisdom (at least in the romance circles) says to only read things published in the last five years. To that I say a hearty BS! Read the classics. That’s the best way to learn how to make a story that will endure (unless you don’t plan on being read beyond your lifetime–which is fine, more power to you, friend). Also, read the classics in your genre, then read outside your genre. Read articles, magazines and history books or whatever suits your tastes and story. Read, read, read. Then write, and keep in mind that conventional wisdom and writing styles change–sometimes at the drop of a hat. So that whatever you’re so hot about being “THE” way to write, will change before you can even sneeze at it. These two together are better teachers than any currently published manual or website on “How to write”.
So! What’s the takeaway from that (as my friend, author Joan Reeves, would say)? Butt in Chair, and write, write, write….and write some more. That’s really, in my opinion, the only way you will learn what you’re doing. In between that I’d say read, too. Good luck to you!*Luxury Pen by By khunaspix