1. So you’ve decided to be a writer of novels. You’ve maybe taken a class or a course. You’ve read a couple of ‘how to’ manuals. You have an idea for a story. You understand about ‘character’,’ plotting’,’ setting’ ‘point of view’ and ‘voice’. You go for it and over weeks, months, years you get the story written. You write ‘The End’ and put it away for a month or so to let it ‘drain’ or ‘simmer’ – (pick your metaphor).
2. Then you retrieve it. You share it with other writers, get feedback – and on this point I can’t recommend highly enough having one or two writing buddies. That is other writers with whom you have a mutually supportive, but above all honest relationship – people who will tell you painful truths like ‘get rid of that character, that plotline – they stink!’ Or who will push you to extend yourself when you need it and who will praise and encourage you when you deserve it.
3. And finally you revise, redraft and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And now it’s ready to submit to agents and publishers, right?
4. WRONG! Please, please consider getting your manuscript professionally edited. Word of mouth recommendation is best – as with most things – but if you can’t make contact that way, then there are professional bodies for editors – in the UK the SfEP website http://www.sfep.org.uk/ is a good starting point – and they are worth investigating. Yes it costs money BUT you should see it as an investment – in yourself and in your writing. I can personally recommend my own editor, John Hudspith, http://www.johnhudspith.co.uk who also happens to be an excellent teacher of writing.
5. THEN – take the editorial advice and rewrite AGAIN. Now you might just might be ready to seek publication.
There are a lot of ‘how to’ manuals out there – I list several on the ‘Writing’ page of this blog – but one of the best – if not the best – that I’ve discovered so far is one first published in 1934 – and still in print and that’s Dorothea Brande‘s book ‘Becoming a Writer’.
See you in Nirvana aka on the bookshop shelf…
- Should Your Novel be First Person? (advancedfictionwriting.com)
- Getting the most out of a rewrite: Tips for authors (alanrinzler.com)