From the Pen of a Writer, Part 1: Everything You Need to Know

03 June 2011

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I have been asked many a time to post my thoughts on subjects relating to writer's block, editing, and other such topics, and I have finally decided to take the plunge and make a blog series on some of my thoughts on these subjects. Please keep in mind when reading this post that I am not perfect and I still have trouble following all of these rules myself. So, instead of these being posts about what I do, they should be viewed more as posts about what I've learned and am still learning

With that in mind, I give you Part 1!
1. Good Ideas Don't Sit Around Forever
Many a time, I've had a good idea for a book or a chapter and I failed to write it down because I "wasn't there yet." Maybe I was only up to writing Chapter 5, and this was something that wasn't to happen until Chapter 12. However, when I eventually finished Chapter 11 and was ready to write Chapter 12, the idea had clean flown out of my head, and I could no longer recall any of it. Now, whenever I have an idea I like for a scene, chapter, or book, I write it down so as not to forget it. Let go of the fact that you may not be "there yet." Write it down in as much detail as you can when it is in your mind, and you'll be very glad you did later.
2. Outlining
Okay, so you've got a fantastic idea for a book plot. Your ideas are pouring out, but you don't know what to choose first. This, my friend, is the stage known as outlining. Outlining, frankly, I consider an optional thing. I didn't outline Violets Are Blue, but I do plan to outline my second book, Autumn Roses. I think it will make it easier for me to piece the story together if I have a good idea of where I'm going. So, I encourage outlining, but I don't require it. Many authors have been able to write amazing books without outlining beforehand. However, it takes a special person to do this, for others can choose not to outline, but then their book ends up being all over the place and not very organized. It's your choice. As a personal decision, I have found that I prefer outlining. It helps you get your ideas straight, and you can organize thoughts and make sure everything fits together. 
3. Books Don't Write Themselves
I'm sure you all know this. Simply by having a great idea and dreaming about it, you're not going to fill a Word document with 200+ pages or however long you plan on your novel being. If it's writing poorly you're afraid of, it's time you face the facts: you are always going to have to rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite again. It's the world of writing, and it's never going to change. So open up that blank document and just start writing! There will be time enough later to edit and add a clever beginning or a tear-jerking ending. 
4. Editing Is Your Dearest Friend
It's the truth. If you plan on publishing your book, you simply cannot turn in your first draft. Any good publisher will turn it down--not because it's bad, but because it's not complete. You have not given the publisher your full potential as a writer if you give him your first draft. Every writer has to write at least three drafts before they are ready to seek publishing. Each time I rewrite Violets Are Blue, I like it more. There is no way your book will be as good as it's ever going to be the first time you write it. When you write your first draft, ideas pour forth (that is, most of the time :), and you often end up typing as fast as you can but not nearly as fast as your imagination. In the editing process, you are giving yourself the chance to go back and improve all those emotional writing spurts, trim them, and make them legible to everyone else.
5. The Big Moment
This really should go unsaid, but when you are preparing to send your book to a book agent, editor, or publishing house, make sure you have no grammatical errors. It can make your writing look very unprofessional if the reader goes through and finds a bunch of misspelled words or sentences ending with pronouns. Also, no fancy fonts! Keep your fonts to Times New Roman, Ariel, etc., and keep them between 12. and 14., depending on the nature of the font. Justify your paragraphs. You can double-space (I did), because it makes it easier for an agent or editor to read over it, but you aren't required to do so. 

I hope you've enjoyed Part 1 of my From the Pen of a Writer series, which gave a brief overview of all the basic information about writing a book. Keep checking back for Part 2: dialogue!

P.S. Raising Homemakes is hosting a giveaway in celebration of their one year anniversary! Click here for all the details. 

8 epistles:

  1. Wow this is defiantly stuff I will be writing down to use later. Thanks for posting this! I look forward to part 2! :)

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  2. Number 3 really clicked with me. I have some great ideas running around in my head right now for this story that I'm working on but I have trouble forcing myself to sit down and write. I get so discouraged when I write a mediocre sentence. I'm going to have to get over that if I'm ever going to finish this book. And thank the Lord for editing. I can always go back and try to fix my mediocre sentences in the second and third and fourth, etc., drafts. Thank you for reminding me of this.

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  3. Thanks for starting this series! I will definitely look forward to the rest of it. =)

    Carrie

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  4. By the way, I have some questions on my blog pertaining to characters, and I was wondering if you might be willing to check them out and give me any ideas. =) (It's okay if you don't, though... I don't want you to feel pressured to. =)

    -Carrie

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  5. @Carrie -- I would love to hear more about your characters! Thank you for letting me know; I'm heading over to your blog right now. :)

    Thanks for commenting, and have a blessed day!
    Elizabeth Rose

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  6. I loved reading this advice, and look forward to other parts! Many writers post their tips, and it's interesting reading them from different perspectives. It's also nice to see some pieces of advice overlap. Personally, I'm a person who would love to write a book, and have written a couple short stories. I guess it's just time I'm waiting for. :)


    ~Liz B

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  7. for some reason this makes me love writing even more. :)

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  8. I'm rather behind on this series, but since I am having trouble writing at the moment I thought I'd check it out. So, I love it all!! I can be pretty lazy when it comes to certain things on your list {editing, outlining, etc} but in the end it DOES pay off extremely well. Now, I haven't finished a whole story like you have, and I haven't sent it off to an editor, but I'm working towards that stage.
    Okay, now to read part two :))
    -Jocee <3

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