Thursday, December 30, 2010

Avoid the Slush at All Costs

In my efforts to procrastinate this week, I came across a book I started reading last year by Jack Bickham. “The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)”. Chapter one is title “Don’t Make Excuses.” Gulp. This hits home with me on so many levels. “Writers write; everyone else makes excuses.” Well, that means if I’m a writer I must write. I’ve been doing pretty good with this ever since NaNoWriMo and have almost finished editing a book I plan to send out to a publisher the middle of January. The following are a few tips I’ve come across from several different sources along the way that I feel have made my work stronger.

1. Lead with a powerful scene, a witty exchange or a dazzling description.

2. Make sure the right person is telling the story.

3. Create the right amount of internal monologue.

4. Don't have too many characters.

5. Make sure the characters you do have don’t walk, talk and act the same.

6. Add texture to your story with echoes, allusions and metaphors.

7. Check to make sure every scene is necessary to move the story forward.

8. Be sure there is a sense of time and place in your story.

9. Make your dialogue lively. Listen to those around you, then use what you hear.

10. Up the ante where you can.

(Raising my glass of sparkling cider)  Here’s to avoiding the slush pile and reaching our publishing dreams!

Happy New Year Everyone!!


Bethany said...

Thank you for the helpful post, Melissa! I second the toast :-)

Melissa said...

2011 Here we come! LOL :)

Heather said...

I'll raise my glass to that for sure! This sounds like an excellent book. I'll have to pick it up! Thanks for the advice and heads up on it.

Melissa said...

I plan on reading it again, Heather. After skimming through the chapter titles, I found several different ones that interest me more now than when I first read the book. I love it when that happens. LOL Have a Wonderful New Year! :)

Cheri LaClaire said...

Great post! I've been working on 'the right amount of internal dialogue' this year. That's my goal ;)

Melissa said...

Cheri, I'm right there with you! :) I always start out with way too much on the first draft and then cut out too much during edits. Hoping to find that happy medium too. Best of luck to you!