It’s far easier to point out things that are done incorrectly. They tend to stand out more, draw attention, and people generally stress far more over doing things wrong than getting them done right (which is kind of backwards). In writing, it’s especially difficult because the right thing is often very subjective. Aside from proper grammar, there is not 100% right way to do most anything when it comes to writing. So, I’ll focus a bit here on some things that I think I did wrong or need to improve upon. I make no claims here that any of this will resonate with other writers out there. Every writing process is a personal, individual one, but we certainly have a lot of overlap, so do with this list what you will. Hopefully some will glean a few bits of usefulness from them.
- Multiple first person p.o.v. is not a real popular. Deadworld was something of an experiment for me when I first started it. I had never written first person narrative before. I had two major char’s pov and three minor ones. The switching back and forth was difficult on too many people. Note, this kind of narrative is very hard to pull off well. Creating one, consistent, unique first person voice is tricky enough. Several in one book is downright nasty. The result? I rewrote the entire book in third person.
- Being a poor self-editor can cause a lot of problems. I’m still not good at self-editing. However my brain works, I need a lot of time away from my writing in order to come to it with fresh eyes. Don’t know why, but I do. I have difficulty seeing things (often obvious things) I’ve done wrong or need improving. It can be character issues, plot issues, or just about any other damn thing. Right after I’ve written it, I”m pretty much blind to my words. Don’t be this person. It’s not fun. I’m not about to try and tell how to become a good self-editor. I’m struggling with that one myself. There are books. There are workshops. There are other writers who are good at this. Gather this knowledge and become more proficient. This is critical if you are thinking of self-publishing and not paying for the services of an editor and/or copyeditor, because I think it’s likely one of the main causes of so many poor books being put out there. But that’s a whole other post.
- Query writing. Another aspect I find my skills lacking in. I didn’t even query my book in the right genre. I submitted it as a thriller when it was UF. And, what I did write, was pretty much “blah.” A special thanks to my editor for seeing something in my hodge-podge of a query to read pages. My first agent rejected me initially. He loved the book though. Yes, many writers complain about this very fact. “Why can’t they just read some of the pages?” Time management, people. It’s impossible to read pages on so many submissions. You HAVE to be able to tell people why the pages are worth looking at. For the self-publishing minded, this means writing a good blurb. I’ve seen a lot of crap ones on self-published books. Again, there are tons of resources. Avail yourself to them and learn.
I have learned so much in this first book process. I’ll continue to do so as I move forward and hopefully each book will be better than the last. Some things though will help in getting to that point of having a debut book get out there and at least have a chance at success. I hope you find these tips useful. Learning from other’s mistakes is the best way to avoid them yourself. Happy writing!