Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Just Write the Book

Hey Everyone, it's Carly. I'm a little late with this blog by like a month, LOL. I took January off from the blog in order to finish writing the final book in the Forest of the Mist series. The title is Guardians and it has been turned in to my editor. Whew!

I'm changing things up on Carly's View for 2018. Whenever I don't have a guest blogger, I will answer a question about writing that I get asked a lot. Keep in mind, my answer relates only to me and my experiences, not necessarily someone else's. Another change is the content of the blog. This year I will not be doing book reviews. I'm sorry about this, but the time is just not there. If I happen to read a book and really like it, I will contact the author and see if I can feature them on the blog. I will continue with guest bloggers, author interviews, character interviews, book features, and series features. If you are interested in any of these options, contact me in the comments section.

So a question I get asked a lot is this, "I have an idea for a book. What do I do?"  This, my friends, is a loaded question, depending on what the person is really looking for. Sometimes, it's just a little nudge to get started. Other times it turns into a request for "honest feedback" on what they have already written. More often, it turns into an overview of writing as a whole. 

Most often when I am asked this question, I answer with a simple, "Write the book." They look at me like I'm crazy, but honestly, that is the first step. Write the book. Get it down on paper. Don't worry about grammar and punctuation, just get the story down. Once you have it written, do a simple spell check with your computer. If you haven't already divided your story into chapters, then do this next. Read your story out loud to yourself. This helps you detect if you are overusing words or phrases. It helps you "hear" if you are repeating the same idea over and over again. It also allows you to hear if the story reads awkwardly. Fine tune those things that jump out at you. The next step is to read through for punctuation, misspellings, head-hopping, past vs present tense, etc... I know you've already done a spellcheck, but it won't catch everything. 

Once I have done all this with my manuscripts, I send it off to a trusted friend who reads really fast. She usually has the book completed within 48 hours. She sends me a list of things that jump out at her like misspellings, punctuation, missing quotation marks, and story line inconsistency. I make the corrections and then do a final read through before sending off to my editor and the publishing house. This attention to detail will save a a lot of time during editing.

For those who want honest feedback, I have sometimes offered to read their complete manuscript or at least what they have written. I will usually do a full edit of the first 50 pages so they can see what is missing, inconsistent, or careless mistakes. This is where it gets dicey. Most people who ask you this question are friends or family members. I use the Track Changes feature in Word when I do this type of editing. It marks up the manuscript and gives the writer the option to accept the changes I have suggested or to reject it and keep it as it is. I have had some writers just shutdown when they opened their documents and saw all the markings. I know how they feel. When I first started writing, I asked an author friend to read my first chapter and provide input. I was not ready when she sent back the document marked up and with comments everywhere. I immediately became angry and insulted as I believed my story to be perfect. HA! I finally simmered down and read through her comments again and you know what? She was right. It was an eye opening experience that could have made me give up before I even started or give me the gumption to get better. 

There are those who want a whole overview of writing. They want to know what to do from the first idea of their story all the way through to publication. There are a lot of steps in between those two points. Some don't want to take the time to do the research and work required before submitting their manuscripts. That lack of detail will show and you will receive a nicely worded rejection letter. All writers have gotten rejection letters, it's a part of the writing process and how we learn. Writing is tough. Basically people will either love your story or they won't. You have to take the good with the bad, pull up your big girl drawers, and get busy improving your manuscript if you want that shot at publication.

That's all for this week. If I don't have a guest scheduled for February 15th, then I'll answer another question about writing. 

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