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Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

Why not a “Top 10” list? I’m just that lazy… You get NINE!

In “Matt order” of importance (you might recognize some names):

1. Write with passion

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

My task…is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel – it is, before all, to make you see. That – and no more – and it is everything. ~Joseph Conrad

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. ~George Moore

Reading and weeping opens the door to one’s heart, but writing and weeping opens the window to one’s soul. ~M. K. Simmons

Storytelling is a personal, emotional and spiritual affair. If it isn’t? Then you’re not a storyteller.

2. Do it for love… and DO IT!

Writing is its own reward. ~Henry Miller

Write without pay until somebody offers to pay. ~Mark Twain

Action is eloquence. ~William Shakespeare

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Don’t write to get paid. Write because you must or because you enjoy it. And – START WRITING!

3. Paint a picture

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

Poetry creates myth, the prose writer draws its portrait. ~Jean-Paul Sartre

To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything. ~Anatole France

Characterization is an accident that flows out of action and dialogue. ~Jack Woodford

Simply stating something is easy enough. Sometimes you want to capture the reader’s attention and heart, however. In those cases open your toolbox and make use of similes, metaphors, and vivid imagery.

4. Write (and revise) with every spare moment

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. ~Ray Bradbury

Half my life is an act of revision. ~John Irving

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor. ~Edgar Rice Burroughs

And a word on revising until your tombstone epitaph reads “Never published anything”:

The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. ~William Faulkner

Write, write, write! Revise, revise, revise! But at a certain point, push the baby bird from the nest.

5. Keep it simple

Vigorous writing is concise. ~William Strunk Jr.

Find out what your hero wants, then just follow him. ~Ray Bradbury

[Or HER, Mr. Bradbury]

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret. ~Matthew Arnold

PLOT is a four-letter word in my house. ~Matthew C. Plourde

You know what’s not simple? A grandiose outline with a hundred different story arcs all asking for attention and conclusion. Fifty characters all with their own POV. Plotting has no place in Storytelling either – let it go.

Write simply and from the heart – I know of no better advice for an author.

6. Cut the boring parts

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

Tediousness is the most fatal of all faults. ~Samuel Johnson

Don’t start at the beginning – how boring was your life of poop and formula/breasts (okay, the breasts may have been interesting) during the first year of your life? /thumbsdownfartnoise

I don’t want to read about the main character’s home, work life or how they got to where they are in the first few chapters/prologue. I want to start right in the middle of some crazy shit!

“But, Matt, I need the reader to understand-”

NO! STOP! The reader will understand through dialog and action as the story unfolds.

“But I want to show-”

NO! YOU’RE NOT LISTENING! As a reader, if I don’t immediately know a) who’s story this is, b) what’s at stake and sometimes c) why I should care — I STOP READING. I don’t give a tiny turd about why the High elves of ForestyPlaceWithFlowers are at war with the Humans of GeneroMedievalCity… Sprinkle that shit amongst the dialog and action. I want to know what’s going on, who it’s happening to and why I care. That’s it.

Same too goes for the middle. Don’t let it drag. Don’t show every little thing that happens or explain every little detail. Keep the narrative flowing like a majestic river.

/breathe /breathe

Yeah, I sometimes take this stuff seriously 🙂

7. Eliminate unnecessary words

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. ~Thomas Jefferson

The adjective is the enemy of the noun. ~Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire

Other offenders: “mostly”, “really”, “actually”, “extremely”. Take these words out back and do them like they did Old Yeller.

8. Learn to thrive on criticism (and some things to make you laugh)

You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance. ~Ray Bradbury

There is probably no hell for authors in the next world — they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this. ~C. N. Bovee

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs. ~Christopher Hampton

Don’t be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts. ~Gene Fowler

Publishing your work puts it at the mercy of the unwashed masses – and they are massive… And unwashed. Safe with their shield of anonymity, hecklers & trolls will assault your castle walls. Ignore the bad, ignore the good, ignore it all. And remember this quote when pondering why someone tagged your book as garbage:

It is easy to be brave from a safe distance. ~Aesop

… The internet provides such a great, safe distance. /bowtoAesop

9. Be unique, extraordinary, unpredictable

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. ~G.K. Chesterton

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. ~Oscar Wilde

There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are. ~Somerset Maugham

This one is marked as #9, but it’s not necessarily least on my list here. Instead, read the list, learn from writers who have come before you, hone your craft, be a sponge for writing advice… BUT ignore it all when the time is right. All these tips (from myself and others) paint a wide picture on how to tell a story. However, only YOU can tell YOUR story. Leverage what you need, use what you want and then add your personality into the mix to make it wholly yours.

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I get asked several similar questions from many of the authors I mentor and I see some similarities on the writing forums I frequent as well. I’m going to take some time today to discuss one such repeat patron: Point of View (POV, for short).

As you develop your story idea (notice I didn’t say “plot”), you may ask yourself – what POV should I use?

Wrong question.

Here is the only question that should be burning in your mind: Whose story is this?

If you write with outlines (I still disagree), this should be bolded and at the top of your sacrilegious outline: Whose story is this?

If you prefer notecards with characters/ideas on them (notice the absence of “plot devices”), this should be at the top of every notecard: Whose story is this?

If you only write with the barest of notes (most of them in your addled brain), this should be already answered: Whose story is this?

Notice a pattern to my advice here?

One of the most important tasks you need to accomplish before putting pen to paper/finger to keyboard is decide a) whose story this is and b) the driving force behind the narrative.

These 2 items will both solidify your focus (which will spill thru to the reader) and give the story all the fuel it needs.

If you meander from the start, with no care to narrative or a sense of who’s driving that narrative – the reader might just close the book and move on to something more engaging. I know I do.

So, what does all this have to do with point of view?

This should be obvious at this point, but I’ll go into some explanation here.

There are three main components to your narrative mode: view, voice & time. And I do think you should fix them in that order. Wikipedia has a great overview article on each concept and I’m not going to delve into detail on their attributes. Rather, I’m going to talk more about view and how to choose it.

View is the most critical (in my opinion), as the others will fall into place (usually) based upon your preferred writing style and given writing talents (some folk are just masters of the present tense, for example).  I’m going to narrow it down further and only speak to POV as it relates to character. Does the title of this blog post make sense now? 🙂

Who’s your POV character(s)?

Ahhh… Here we are, and only after ~400 words. I’m nothing if not meandering!

Once you decide “Whose story is this?”, the question of POV kinda answers itself.

Coming of age city teen? The city teen, of course.

Human falls in love with mysterious vampire? The human of course (to keep the tension & mystery going even after the reveal)

Hero’s journey? The hero, obviously.

Crime drama following both the crime and the police effort? Perhaps one POV character from each side.

Brilliant detective and his/her sidekick? Well, either. Maybe part of showing the brilliance is telling the story from the sidekick’s perspective (Elementary, Mr. Watson).

Notice anything similar amongst all my examples here?

You guessed it. Matt Tip #1: Limit your POV to as few characters as possibleand pick the right one(s)!

While jumping from mind to mind can be effective for your book, here are some examples of where it chops the narrative and hinders the story:

  • Going back in time (either to rehash the narrative from a different POV or to spend a few pages in a past event, for another character… ugh)
  • To Explain (why do some writers feel the need to explain every little thing? no, we don’t need to know why Nancy reacted the way she did – show it from Bob’s discovery or from dialogue later. don’t tell it from her POV because you feel the reader needs constant explanation.)
  • To world build (common in fantasy works, this traps the reader in endless exposition for the sole purpose of building the world. ugh.. it combines the top 2 bullets into a dark abyss of narrative suck.)
  • Wants. As a storyteller, you might want to add something (the villain’s POV, for example). When push comes to shove, you must clearly define your narrative wants and needs. Step back and objectively look at your story. You may want to show something from a different POV, but do you really need to? Can you still show what you want to show from your main POV and thus keep the narrative flowing? Usually, the answer is “yes.”, and you’ve solved that POV quandary.

The best way to avoid these narrative sinkholes? Strive to have as few POV characters as possible. I suggest ONE. Your story will dictate if you need another.

Matt Tip #2: If you must have multiple POV characters, don’t switch mid-paragraph

I’d go as far as to yell: don’t switch mid-chapter, but I’ve seen talented writers pull this off. So, I dunno… As a rule, perhaps you shouldn’t even try.

Matt Tip #3: Keep your Voice and Time consistent

This should be a no-brainer for any fiction writer, but I feel the need to re-emphasize:

  • Don’t change narrative timing.
  • Changing voice within a narrative is quite common & useful. Just don’t do it without a smooth/obvious transition.
  • Voice changes should be temporary, always snapping back to the “main” voice.

Closing Remarks

As with all my “advice”, I caution: your mileage may vary. You may not agree with all I have to say and that’s just fine. As much as fiction is subjective, so too is advice on writing fiction.

If you have more views on character points of view – feel free to post in the comments below. You can try to sway me from my belief in the almighty “one POV character”, but you will fail. Miserably. Embarrassingly. And Grammatically. 🙂

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If you’re planning to put your fiction “out there,” or you’ve already taken that leap – chances are you’ll be dealing with criticism. No work of fiction, even if it was ejaculated upon the author from On High, is universally accepted as perfection. Literature is subjective. People have their own likes/dislikes.

And, yes, your literary shit stinks just like everyone else’s.

What am I saying? It’s simple, really. Until you can accept that your work isn’t a flawless gem, I’m not sure you’ll have the tools you’ll need when strangers read and critique your “finished” product. But this has nothing to do with being thick-skinned. Even fragile flowers deserve to tell their stories if they dedicate themselves to the craft. But, when the jeers come, those delicate souls can indeed weather the storm without changing their personality. And it all comes down to accepting the truth: your work isn’t a timeless paragon of literary brilliance.

Instead, like us humans, each work of fiction is a unique lump of matter. Complete with flaws, quirks and uniqueness. The sooner you realize this, the better off you’ll be in the end. If you’re at peace with the truth, you’ll be prepared to absorb valid critique, recognize a mismatched reader and deflect worthless chatter. For the valid points, you can choose to make changes (if you have direct control over your work) or mark it down for a possible revision later on. Or, perhaps, you’ll just earmark the advice for future works. In the end, your fiction will improve and your reviewers may be telling you something you already know. Perhaps a certain scene or character never sat 100% with you. As more people read your work, your chances of running across constructive criticism rise (as does the number of internet asshats). For me, I embrace anything that helps the story. So, if a reviewer points out something negative that I happen to agree with, chances are I’ll change it. I know my shit ain’t perfect, and I’m willing to make sound revisions.

You should too.

Now, the reverse of this is also true – believe in your work! Just because some anonymous internet goon gives you a “1-star” doesn’t mean you suck as a writer. If you’re be better suited for handing out stickers at Walmart, then I hope you realize that before writing book number two. But if you truly think you deserve to be called a “Storyteller”, then don’t let bad reviews get you down. Easier said than done? I don’t think so. If you truly believe in your work, and that you deserve to share shelf space with other authors – this is an easy state of mind to keep going strong.

You thought it. You wrote it. You shared it. It won’t ever be perfect, but fuckin’ believe in it!

At the end of the day, we’re all a day older. (sorry) But, it’s also all comes down to the story. If you can take a step back and view negative comments as possible constructive criticism – you’ll become a better writer. And I don’t see how that’s ever a bad thing.

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Where has Matt been? Abducted? Dead in a ditch somewhere? Lost in time & space? Fighting Loki’s forces in NYC?

Hardly.

I’ve been soundly in the grip of a creative storm. Well, several storms. I wrote over 25k words in a disgustingly short time about 2 months ago – that was one storm. Then, riding up on that was yet another storm on a different project (not even gonna go there on the blog yet). So… yeah… I’m still here.

While thinking about the past several months, I keep getting stuck on this idea of “creative storms.” I know we’ve all heard some variation of these:

“Write what you know.”

“Build your brand.”

“Don’t quit your day job.”

To all of that, I say: “hogwash.” Why? Because I don’t buy recycled advice any longer. Lemme explain.

You see, I always thought of myself as a very analytical person. Artsy crap was for artsy people. I never thought of myself as “creative” (and I’m sure some people would tell me I’m *still* not creative… bah – feck you, Billy). Anyway. After feeling like I’d burst if I didn’t get an idea, paragraph, page, game concept or some other creative construct out of my brain and into a more tangible form — I’m starting to believe in this idea of a creative storm. I’ve heard many a writer say they write “because they have to,” and then they go on to spout about “building their brand.” And by that, I mean – write within their chosen genre/series/whatever until their hand falls off. Many writers believe it important to build their audience and fiction in that way.

And I guess that’s all fine and dandy for writers.

But what about those of us who genuinely feel seams bursting with the need to create? If we were to call ourselves “Writer,” then what do we do when some other creative endeavor eclipses all else? Follow it? Or, do we abandon it in favor of building our brands and writing what we know?

And those are the questions which are easy to answer for me: ride out the storm. Embrace it. Turn my head towards the falling rain and smile. How can you write what you know when you need to be writing something else? How can you build your brand when you spend large chunks of time on disparate projects?

You can’t. And, I believe, you shouldn’t. Not if you truly believe your first, best ability is raw creation. I say: CREATE! Don’t concern yourself with the notion of “doing it wrong.” There is no wrong/right when it comes to creativity. Publishing the product is another matter, and perhaps not all works of imagination are suited for the general public… but that’s neither here nor there. I’m talking about that foaming-at-the-mouth drive to “make shit.” When you are gripped in such a drive, I think it’s important to follow it for as long as the creative fuel fills your tank.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. After writing nearly 30k words on the next novel in the “Eden” series, I got caught in the grip of a new creative storm. I’m back to writing now and splitting my time between the projects more evenly.

In closing (yeah, I just started this paragraph like a friggin speech… groan), I urge all creative-types to ignore the advice you likely hear upon every visit to a tweet link or blog post on the topic of selling your fiction. Forcing the words onto the paper because you have to finish that series, or write within some artificial confines or for any other reason besides the raw need to “make shit” is a great disservice to yourself and your potential readers. When a storm hits, follow it. Put blinders to the “conventional wisdom” and see where you fall. You might just be surprised at what you can accomplish.

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So, you think you want to begin work on that audiobook of yours? Your novel is “out there” and you want to expand your audience into the land of listeners. While you may know how to put pen to paper (or finger to key/screen), you may not necessarily know jack about voice acting, producing an audio work of art or anything else related. As I go through the process, I’ll share and hopefully we can all learn together!

So, I met (in person) the voice actress for Eden last night for the first time. We’d been in contact over email/phone for about a year leading up to this so we weren’t complete strangers. I swear, every time I talk with her I learn something new! The “audio world” is a big, bad place for little girls in red cloaks (like me). So, here’s some “getting started” tips for a fellow audiobook newbie:

  • Work with a trained voice actor/actress. Sure, Uncle Bob can read your book – he’s got a nice, dulcet voice. Right? Wrong. Many fiction audiobooks (like print books) live and die by the quality of the reader/pro reviews. And many of those reviews will judge the quality of the narration. Awful narration will kill a classic and fantastic narration can lift almost any work. There’s a ton more you have still to do beyond Uncle Bob’s recording, so start-off on the right foot for this massive undertaking: work with a pro.
  • Know what you want. There are as many ways to narrate a book as there are ohmygoditssogoodmyheadasplode fans of tween vampire stories. For fiction, I don’t feel a “flat” narration does you any justice. Why would you want your dramatic scenes read the same as the description of a fork? (hopefully you don’t do too much fork-description in your books) While a “flat” reading may be suitable for a non-fiction book, I prefer the expressive form. I want to feel as the characters do, and a great voice actor can get your audience to some special places alongside your words.  On that same point, you might not want a campy “radio show” reading either. Again, this is where a pro will know the difference between proper expression and eye-rolling lameness. A powerful, expressive reading is where I believe most fiction is at. Aim for that and your listener(s) will be engaged and swept into the performance of your professional actor.
  • Get some help. Use the resources on the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to link-up with a “real” production studio. Talk to friends in the biz. Read some blogs. As a self-publishing man/woman, you’ll likely be the producer. This means you’ll need someone to master the audio (no, it doesn’t come in a single, perfect track from your voice actor). As the producer, you’ll also have to give direction to your voice actor. Listen to early samples and make sure the characters are developing the way you want them to. If there’s something wrong (like he’s taking a deep breath between each sentence), nip it in the bud! Basically, you need to manage this project like you would any other. Stay on top of things, stay communicative and stay involved! If you are expecting to hand someone your manuscript and receive a perfect mp3 6 months later — your expectations might need some adjusting.

So, here begins my journey down the path of audiobook self-publishing. I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes on the way, but you can bet yer panties my team will produce a quality work of art. As I stumble along, I’ll share my thoughts and experiences. Now that we can self-publish to Audible.com, the barriers are gone. It truly is an exciting time to be a writer!

Oh, and one more thing for 2012 or 2013: audiobook launch party in L.A. – go big or go home, kiddies!!  😉

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As I’ve babbled about here and here and likely many other places on the web: don’t plot.

As far as writing advice goes, I’d rank this at the top or near the top. You see, in the deepest recesses of my shriveled heart, I believe Storytelling comes from a place of pure creativity. Sprung from the desire to tell a tale, explore a human condition or delve into a “what if?” – a story needs no added ingredients to grow.

Let it grow from your heart and mind.

I believe (and I’m sure people will one day call me “crazy” for it) that a story loses itself once the “teller” begins to plan the course of events, character and change. Some amount of planning is necessary, of course, or you wouldn’t have a story. However, this “structure” should be as thin as possible – I suggest one sentence worth. Like:

The devil sells coveted items at an antique shop.

Or

Caveman gets captured by evolved race of lizards.

Or

Lowly bishop attempts to change the face of Christianity by conjuring an illusion of a long dead church enemy.

And that’s it!!!!

Don’t outline. Don’t plan characters, events and change. This is the essence of “plot” and I loathe its overuse. What the frak am I talking about? Let’s take my last example of the bishop and Christianity. Stop reading here if you ever plan to read/watch Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown.

–Spoilers!–

I shall admit right off the bat: I haven’t read the book. I have only watched the movie. While this may be loathsome, I’m not giving a book review here so keep yer skirt on. I feel I can adequately make my point about plot without subjecting myself to the same material in a different medium.

Gawd, you are a persnickety one.

Anyway, I liked the basic concept as I put forth in my one-sentence teaser. Sounds like fun, right? I think it would have been, if the work wasn’t an over plotted mess. Let’s dive in!  🙂

Our hero is a cryptologist called “Pardu”… Oh, you haven’t watched Mazes & Monsters yet? Go do that, I’ll wait here.

Okay, back to Angels & Demons. The movie starts with the death of the pope and the theft of some mini-black hole bomb. (which was just discovered, and contained, moments prior)

So, Pardu is called in by Obi Wan Kenobi to decipher some symbols – evil symbols from the ancient Illuminati. The signs seem to predict a string of murders of high-ranking Catholic dudes (cause god forbid a woman have any power).

Then, they find out (dun dun dun) that the Illuminati stole a bomb and plan to blow the Vatican to high heaven!

As my wife and I watched the movie, we kept dreading the end. We knew Obi Wan was the bad guy, but it just didn’t make sense. She even said : “If it’s him, I’m gonna be pissed.”

And she was right to be angered!

I’m going to break down the villain’s “grand plan” and let you be the judge. Obi Wan’s motive was to become pope so he could reform his faith. And his plan was to:

  • Steal a theoretical, unstable substance moments after its discovery to use as a bomb.
  • Murder his good friend, the pope (eventho he was basically the pope’s 2nd in command, with the pope’s ear and some measure of power to affect change from within)
  • Hire a professional killer to murder a half dozen fellow men of the cloth because they were too “soft”.
  • Call in Pardu (you might know him as Tom Hanks) to claim the fake symbology is Illuminati to spread fear amongst the Vatican.
  • Trust that Pardu will figure out the clues at the precise minute the crazy bomb (in which no one on the planet is an expert) is about to explode.
  • Hop into a nearby helicopter with the bomb (now at critical mass, as new/theoretical bombs always play by the rules) and fly into the air.
  • Helicopter explodes and Obi-Wan parachutes to safety – hailed as the savior of Vatican City.

I’ll give you a moment to take all of that in. Yes, it’s a metric ton.

By executing this multi-step plan, all while relying on a bomb technology not 1 day old, Obi Wan hoped to be spontaneously elected pope, eventho he wasn’t eligible.

This was his “plan A”, I guess.

And there we have Plot, brought to the nth degree by over-planning and too much darn thought. I can imagine the writer sitting as his desk, scheming about plot twists & turns that will keep his readers guessing. Problem is, that approach leads to a terrible story. Believability goes right out the window, as does a naturally flowing story. And you end with a mess (in my opinion).

My advice to those writers now taking advice from me (so sorry): Don’t frakkin plot! Start with your idea, jot a few notes, write, jot a few more notes, and then write some more. I typically wait until my “idea” has incubated in my brain to a point where it needs release. Then, the writing comes easy. And you know what else comes easy? The story. It will flow free of the constraints of an outline or some “graphed” line from plot point A to B to C and so on.

There is a difference between a writer and a storyteller. Go be a storyteller. 🙂

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A few weeks back, I posted my thoughts on what to do when your first novel draft is finished. I’m doing all of this as I go through the editing process for Babylon, so I figured it would be cool to share.

So you sent your second draft off to your “first reader,” your trusted pair of eyes. This blessed person has read the manuscript and came back with some suggestions. Chances are, they also caught some typos (though that wasn’t their main objective). You fix the typos and ponder the rest – do you agree with their suggestions? You may on some, and maybe not on others. There’s certainly no harm in granting a stay of execution for some of your prose until the next round of review. However, if your first reader points out any major holes or obvious problems, you best go fix them!

So, time for that third draft. Fix the typos and decide what you will re-write based on the first bit of feedback. This third draft is important! I typically print off 3-5 copies of this draft to distribute to my “A-Team.” These folk are not only willing to help you, they are the first opinions on your masterpiece. You’ve now had time to edit the whole thing at least 3 times. It’s put-up-or-shutup time for the manuscript. Keep in mind, this is still a “content” review. We don’t want anyone taking a fine-tooth comb to the grammar just yet. Generally, you’ll get a mixed-bag of comments and suggestions. If there is a common theme to the suggestions, try to look at those objectively and prepare to make some changes. Chances are, your readers picked-up on something critical you missed. Listen to them! More often than not, they are correct from their outside position. Of course, the opposite is also true – you may disagree and discard some suggestions. Let’s look at both situations!

With Eden, nobody liked a “side quest” I had the characters take on their way from Brasilia to Eden. Quite universally, I got: “why would they go off and do that, when they are focused on this?” My only answer was “because I liked writing it!” The story flowed much better without this added chapter and removing it was easier than I thought it would be. Oftentimes, your garbage can be removed with little to no pain. Funny how that works…

Conversely, I had one reader note that the beginning of Eden was too slow. I disregarded that remark because I knew it started in the thick of things better than most novels, and nobody else had the same complaint. With The Antaran Legacy, one reader didn’t think that religion would be a major factor in a futuristic society. Not being an avid sci-fi reader, I realized where she was coming from but respectfully disagreed. I kept religion a (minor) source of conflict in that novel as it is in many other futuristic yarns. It has its place.

So, that’s the process. Analyze each bit of advice and decide if it has merit for your work. Incorporate changes (or not) to arrive at revisions 4,5,6 and beyond. Widen your initial audience as you go to get more varied opinions (or reinforce existing ones). Then, at a certain point, you will (hopefully) be content enough to finalize the editing process. That entails a few more revisions on your own. Be sure to read the manuscript out loud at least once – you’ll be surprised at how many things you will edit after that exercise! Sprinkle-in those little recurring themes/messages/thoughts, and you’re off to the final step: send the darn thing to your editor!

NOW we’re editing for grammar/style. Be sure to hire a pro. Revise the manuscript once or twice after you get it back from your editor and you’re done! Some writers tweak for months/years after they get their manuscript back. I’m of a different mindset: ship it out! You’ve spent enough time with the story. Let it go! Set it free! And then move on to the next story. As a storyteller, that’s your job.

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