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Thirteen Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Writers

Thursday Thirteen

I’ve been in a writing mood recently, which is great from my point of view. Today, I wrote “the end” on my current work in progress. Since my mind is in the groove, I thought I’d give some advice to aspiring authors.

1. Sit down and write every day. Make writing into a good habit.

2. Join a writing group, either a chapter or an online community for support.

3. Read and read widely. Analyze books that work for you and those that don’t. Use them as a learning tool.

4. Make a point to learn about websites and social media.

5. Enter writing competitions to help yourself improve and also to give yourself a writing deadline.

6. Research markets, agents and editors to familiarize yourself with what publishers and agents are looking for. This will help you narrow down who to submit your book to. If you’re thinking about self-publishing learn as much as you can about the process.

7. Keep a record of how much you can comfortably write each day. Knowledge of your possible output will help you once you’re published and facing deadlines.

8. Take online classes and attend conferences to learn as much as you can. I’ve been published for a while now, and I’m still learning!

9. When it comes to actual plotting, try all the different methods. Plotting, pansting and in between until you find a method that works for you.

10. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. There is only your way.

11. Find a critique partner/s to help critique your work and critique other writers’ work. This is a learning process too.

12. Once you’ve completed and polished your book send it off to your chosen publisher or agent. While you’re waiting, start work on your next book. If you’re self-publishing, complete the publishing process and start work on the next book.

13. Celebrate each success because writing is a difficult business and plain hard work.

Do you have any suggestions to add to my list?

Writer Tip: Shelley Munro

Read. You’ll probably hear this from every published writer you meet. You’ll probably hear it at every conference you attend too. It really is important to know how the romance genre works and the classic hooks that are popular with readers. Analyze each book you read. Treat them like textbooks and learn from every book. Discover what works for you as a reader, learn how other writers deal with dialogue, narrative and love scenes. As you read, you’ll absorb quite a bit of craft and you’ll probably find that you do things instinctively after a while.

A bonus tip: Take the time to exercise. Not only does it keep your mind alert and give you down time to plot and work through problems, it helps keep the dreaded bottom spread at bay. What? You thought bottom spread was an urban legend put out by published authors to scare you off? No, unfortunately. It’s quite true. If you spend all your time writing and don’t exercise you will end up with a large backside. Heed my warning and exercise! :grin:

Visit Shelley Munro’s website
Purchase Shelley’s latest release, The Bottom Line

Writer Tip: Christina Phillips

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your writing.

So what does that even mean?

For five years I targeted Harlequin Mills and Boon because that was the house I wanted to be published with. I did eventually progress from form rejections to personal ones and then onto revisions but something just wasn’t clicking. However, HM&B was where my heart lay and I was determined to succeed!

But eventually, disheartened, I decided to try writing single title. And then paranormal romance (which I had always loved). At the insistence of my CPs I finally pushed right out of my comfort zone and tackled erotic romance – something I had always insisted I would never do because it was far too difficult!

Suddenly, it was as if a great halogen lamp exploded overhead! My voice fit the dark, erotic tone as if this was where I had always meant to be. As another experiment to stretch my writing muscles further, I then wrote my very first erotic historical romance – and it was that book that landed me an agent and two book deal.

So this is my tip: Sometimes it really does pay to try another sub-genre you love – even one that you might not have considered attempting before. It could make all the difference between “thanks but no thanks” and “We love it! Please sign on the dotted line!”

Visit Christina Phillips Website
Purchase Christina’s upcoming release, FORBIDDEN ~ Berkley Heat, Sep 2010

Writer Tip: Anna Campbell

“My best advice if you’re starting out is sit down and write a whole book from page one to the end. That will teach you more than anything else, wonderful as the resources available to a writer are. Don’t listen to the siren call of a new idea when you hit the doldrums. Keep plugging on until you finish that manuscript. Then put the book under the bed for six months and write something else. Only then come back to edit the first manuscript – you’ll be amazed what writing a second manuscript has taught you. The other benefit of putting your work aside for an extended period of time is that you can see mistakes more easily once you’re not quite so close to the story.”

Visit Anna Campbell’s website at www.annacampbell.info
Purchase Anna’s upcoming release, My Reckless Surrender (June 2010)