I’ve been MIA! Apologies for the absence, but I finally MOVED last week, into an amazing duplex in Jersey City that feels positively palatial in comparison to the 375-square-foot apartment we left behind in Brooklyn Heights.
It’s been an insanely stressful month, but yesterday as I was sitting on my deck, coffee and book in hand, watching the sun rise higher in the sky, I knew it was all worth it. I couldn’t be happier with my new place, and being happy in your home is so important to your mental well-being.
Now to get my life back on track, starting with a writing tip, because it’s Monday. Today: tips on how to take feedback.
Editing: an essential part of the writing process. From what I can tell, some people love it, and others love to hate it. I personally love editing my own work, taking that raw material and polishing it to a gleaming shine. But like any part of the writing process, editing comes with countless frustrations.
There’s a simple trick I’ve learned through my editing process that I thought I’d share…
I think Mondays are a good day for a quick writing lesson, don’t you? At the beginning of the work week I’m (usually) in a productive mindset. So going forward, on Mondays I’m going to be sharing some little tips that can improve your writing in a big way.
First up: On how (and why) not to show and tell
After a good week last week, I’m back to feeling restless. It’s my job, it’s the city, it’s the winter that still hasn’t completely gone away, it’s my miniature apartment. I’m dreaming of wide open fields and blue skies and houses with actual kitchens. I go around in circles: leave the city–but it’s not necessarily cheaper, and I don’t want to commute–leave the east coast–but go where?–find a job somewhere–but there’s nothing I want to do but write books, and I could do that anywhere–I’m actually lucky, I work in a job that gives me the time to write on the side–so I should stay here…
You get the idea.
Much has been written on the importance of the first 250 words of your manuscript.
All of it is true.
It can be hard, as a writer, to keep that in mind–you have the whole story to keep in your mind–so polishing (or demolishing and rewriting) your opening is something best done at the editing stage. Once your whole story is down on paper, go back to that beginning (after taking a break from the manuscript so you’re looking at it with fresh eyes) and ask yourself–if I were a reader, would I pick up this book based on this first page?
I’m not going to rehash the advice in the articles I linked to–go read them for yourself. Instead, here is the beginning of one of my favorite books of all time. I’ll post it, then we can discuss why it’s so great. I think I’ll make this a regular thing.
So I wrote a book. (In a sun-drenched field, on a typewriter. Isn’t that how you write, too?)
Then I rewrote it. Then I rewrote it again. And again. And again…
Seems like every piece of writing advice I stumble upon lately has one thing in common: ditch your prologue.
Especially if you’re a first time writer. Especially if you’re querying (this article sums it up pretty nicely). In my massive (to me) cutting down of my novel, I decided maybe I should follow that advice. I chopped out my prologue.
Then I happened to mention this decision to a few of my beta readers. The response?
“I LOVED the prologue! You need to keep it in!”
Even my friend the self-proclaimed “prologue-hater” said, “You must keep the prologue. It added a lot to the story and I kept thinking back to it as I was reading.”
So I added the prologue back in…
(Image found here)
I finished what I thought was the final draft of the novel I’ve been working on for the past five years this past Christmas Eve, at my parents’ house, in the morning over coffee next to the Christmas Tree.
I remember sitting back, stunned. Am I done revising? Is this really it?