It’s June now, right? (slightly early links)

It’s a little early for links, but it is technically the first week in June, since tomorrow is June. So here ya go. Lovely links I’ve gathered over May.

4 Reasons Authors Shouldn’t Edit While they Write
Victoria Grefer argues that you should keep your editing side locked up until your draft is complete.

Editing, correcting—“perfecting”—can become a bit like a drug. A bit like an addiction. You get to the point where you write a scene, and you can’t bring yourself to move forward unless you’ve edited it. Fixed it.

This is a huge problem and a huge waste of time. You know why? Generally, a read-through of the first draft comes after a first draft. And during that read-through, you realize you have a lot of fluff thrown in your novel. Sometimes entire scenes you can easily delete, and your novel will be better for the cut.

The Germ of an Idea: where a book came from
K.J. Charles on how a writer takes a small seed of an idea and turns it into an oak tree of a story.

One of my favourite experiences was getting so drunk on lemon sours that I spent hours in an animated argument about Lord of the Rings with an equally drunk friend. I was talking to Mr KJC about it the next day, when he pointed out that I don’t speak Japanese and our friend didn’t speak English. I have no memory of this being an issue at the time.

What new authors need to know, but no one usually tells them
Angela Campbell unravels the mysteries of what happens after you sign that first publishing contract.

When you first sign a contract, you expect a certain amount of hand-holding to occur, and sadly, it often doesn’t happen. No one ever tells aspiring authors what to expect once a contract is offered and accepted.

So, I thought I’d share a few tips for those debut authors out there to clue them in on a few things while, hopefully, shucking them on the shoulder with a “You can do this!” pat. Because, No. 1, you’ve already accomplished a major feat. Be super proud of yourself! There are tons of people still struggling to finish a manuscript, let alone shop it around to agents and publishers. And every experienced writer knows the rate of rejection far surpasses acceptances in this business.

There are 699,999 books that people want more than yours. Perfect.
Christa Desir about not defining success purely by your book’s Amazon ranking

I loved everything about release day. I’ve heard lots of debut writers say the same thing. All this good will is showered over you and your little labor of love is out in the world and it’s a social media frenzy of congratulations. But then, after that first day, that first month, those first six months, you wake up to the morning when your book is ranked 700,000 on Amazon. So basically the world wants to read 699,999 books more than yours. Perfect.

The BBA Jihad, or: Why This Is Getting Pretty Bloody Ridiculous (A How-To Guide for Authors)
Nenia Campbell on not going crazy about Goodreads reviews.

Problem:

Someone just gave all your books one star ratings.

Solution:

Do nothing. Calling attention to it will only make it worse.

Protest:

“But it isn’t fair! They didn’t read the book!”

Rebuttal:

You don’t have any way of proving that, though. Unless the person wrote a review saying, “Nyah, nyah, I didn’t read the book but this author sux LOL!” that is.

Four Ways Fictional Romance Sometimes Reads False
Victoria Grefer about how to avoid making people think “Yeah right” about your loved up characters.

However, I have recognized through some failed “sweet” (read “sickly sweet”) romantic moments I tried to write in my unpublished novels that when my tender moments go wrong, it tends to be for one of a limited set of reasons. I’d like to share those just for reference and to ask if you’ve found this same thing happening in your writing.

Ask a Debut Novelist – Question 2 What has surprised you most about the book business?
Ted Thompson talks about what he learned after he sold his first book.

I’ll be honest, I was reluctant to answer this question at first because I confess I’m someone who thinks concentrating too much on the book business can be counterproductive for writers. Going to panels about publishing or subscribing to Publisher’s Lunch (don’t do it!) or obsessively Googling a certain agent can fill you with all kinds of ideas about what you think publishers want, and can distract you from exactly the thing that makes your book good.

Finishing Your Book: a handy completion checklist
So you think your books is finished and ready for submission? Think again, and check this handy list from author and editor K.J. Charles.

You’ve written your book. You’ve slaved over the plotting, wept blood on the characterisation, drunk your way through the sex scenes, got yourself under GCHQ scrutiny thanks to the websites you’re visiting for research, squeezed out multiple thousand words through your finger ends, and typed The End. But are you really finished?

Here, in honour of sending off my sixth book to the publisher, is my cut-out-n-keep Book Completion Checklist. It won’t catch everything but it might save you a bit of humiliation as the editor finds a delicate and tactful way to tell you you’re an idiot.

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes: bigotry in historical fiction
K.J. Charles about how writers deal with “of their time” attitudes and beliefs in historical stories without making us think their characters are appalling people.

In general, though, the attitudes were really pretty gruesome, and it shows in the books. Though it’s often a little bit complicated. Fu Manchu, for example, is an appalling caricature of Chinese stereotypes, a living yellow peril, threat to the white race, blah. Genuinely, massively, horrifically racist. But I can’t help noticing that he always wins. Denis Nayland Smith can stiffen his upper lip till you could use it to scrape wallpaper, but he usually ends up bound in a remote strangely carved cavern under the influence of mysterious Oriental drugs, while Fu Manchu buggers off to get on with running the world.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing
Zachery Petit compiled seven deadly sins of writing based on four popular authors on a ThrillerFest panel.

1. Laziness
(David Hewson, author of the Nic Costa series)
Intellectual laziness is something all writers are prone to: as in writing the same type of book, and doing it annually. “I think you really have to fight against laziness and constantly keep challenging yourself.” Like great art, books aren’t ever finished—they’re abandoned. (In other words, don’t just finish writing a first draft and call it a day.)

Tuna Salad and Creative Writing… A Connection, Please???
Victoria Grefer on why fiction is like tuna salad.

Remember, variety is the spice of life. You want enough variety to keep things interesting and flowing, but enough stability so that your reader keeps a hold of what is going on and what this story is actually about.

Finish off with a writing related chuckle.

Now, bring on the summer!

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3 thoughts on “It’s June now, right? (slightly early links)

  1. I think you know I totally disagree with Ms Grefer’s stance on editing as you write. 😉 Obviously, if one gets stuck on editing and perfectionism, the book won’t get done – but that can happen whether one does it during or after. For myself, the very thought of waiting for revision/editing until the story is complete is, well, unthinkable. Why not get it right (not perfect but right) the first time? If I were to have followed this advice when I first got back into writing, I would have written but never completed the very first story. I know, because of the editing I did as I wrote, that I would have had an unholy mess after the first draft, and it would have taken me twice as long to finally finish it.

    There are a great many successful, published authors who edit as they go, so the usual caveat for writing advice – what works for one may not work for another – is definitely needed here.

    1. I knew you’d have a disagreement on that one.

      I think the key is to figure out what works for you. And lots of people struggle on for ages failing to get anywhere because they’re only trying to do it one way and maybe they just need to learn about different options and a kind of permission to try them.

      Some writers do get stuck if they try to make things just right before they continue. They write chapter 1 twenty times and then give up on the whole story in despair. If it works for you, great. If it’s not working for you, it’s always good to know there are other ways to tackle the job.

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