Friday, July 26, 2013

Simple Tricks for Editing Your Manuscript's Prose--Five Steps from Pro Editors That Make a Scene, Chapter, Book Shine

Books enter our lives in distinct stages. 

First comes the wild idea.  It grows gradually in your creative self, until it feels like an elephant in the corner of a room, not letting you ignore it.  Until you're compelled to get it on paper.

You write for months or years.  You now have a huge file on your hard drive or piled on your desk.  You rework it, get feedback, rework some more.  Hate it, love it, feel neutral.

Finally, you're ready for revision.  Revision is essential; we know that professionals spend most of their book journey on this final stage.  But if it's our first book, how do we figure out what needs attention?  It reads OK, our writers' group loves it.  But we still sense the book isn't ready to go out to agent or editor. 

Without a plan, a map, revision can feel endless.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Steps to Self-Publishing: Is It the Choice for You?

In my thirty-plus years as a published writer, I've released my books in three ways: 
1. finding an agent and selling my manuscript to a major publisher
2. selling my own manuscript (sans agent) to a small press
3. self-publishing

Each has advantages and disadvantages.  We'll explore them here so you can make an educated choice about your own book.

Agented Manuscripts
My first agent signed me when I was a brand-new writer.  Because I knew virtually nothing about publishing, my agent educated me.  He had his "stable" of editors at the big houses and successfully pitched my books for me.  He looked over the publishing contracts and corrected any problems, so I got better rights and more money in my advance.  For the years my books were in print, my agent tracked everything, from submission to publication and eventually to serialization. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Unusual Procrastinations, "Watering Dead Wood with Tears," and Other Ways to Stay Hooked on Your Writing

After thirteen books, I know all about falling out of love with my own writing.  I recognize my own stall-outs and tricks.  I've created a thousand exercises and ways to combat this, accept it, keep writing anyway.

This week I discovered an unusual procrastination--one that worked so well, I wanted to share it with you.
Writing a book is more of a marriage than a date.  You're in it for the long(er) haul.  You need to stay hooked.  Or else one of you--probably the book--will pull a Thelma and Louise.

Acedia--A New Take on Procrastination
On Monday I begin teaching at the beautiful and creative art school on Madeline Island in Lake Superior, where I spend three glorious weeks each summer and fall.  In these retreats, we do many different exploratory exercises, all designed to give the writer a new perspective on the book.   I've been exploring a new exercise called a River Chart.  I introduced my stubborn novel-in-progress to it this past weekend, and they hit it off really well.