Over the course of the past year, I have spent a good deal of time reading popular writing tips, many of which have either helped me improve my writing, or at the very least, let me know when I am on the right path. While I am not a dazzling successful published author (yet), I've decided to compile a list of things I've learned that I find most valuable:
-Use any forms of "to be" as minimally as possibly (e.g. was, were, am, be, been)
-The word "said" reads better than flashier words like "vowed, grumbled, declared"
-Never start a book with too much backstory, a phone ringing, or someone waking up
-Describe things that only need description - if its not relevant, move on
-Adverbs are not your friend
-Topical ideas and pop culture are fun, but they date your book and make it stale
-Be consistent - if your protaganist has brown hair on page 1, make sure it isn't blond on page 100
-Outlines are vital
-Do not query until you're revised your manuscript, then revised it again, and again
-When revising, ask yourself "does this need to be here? does it move the story along? develop a character? build tension?" every line, and if it doesn't, then cut it out
-Over 100,000 words is probably too much (unless your writing fantasy) and under 70,000 words probably isn't enough (unless your writing children's)
-Dialogue is important, but make sure it's necessary, and give you unique speech patterns to each character, without being cliched, repetitive, or over the top
-Never use a longer word when a smaller one will do
-When revising, watch out for modifiers, including "very," "pretty," "rarely," "usually"
-Use the least amount of words as possible - if a sentence can be shortened, shorten it
-Proper editing is a vital skill
-Look at examples of query letters and make sure you read and understand the agents submissions guidelines
-Read constantly, especially in the genre you are writing, but don't limit yourself to that
-Utelize feedback and don't take criticism personally - having a thick skin is essential
-Read agents blogs - they're the most useful resources out there
-Use twitter and blogs to connect with other writers - search for #pubtip and #writetip on twitter
-Don't ever give up. Constantly write, edit, and read, and don't constrict yourself to one book or genre.
I know there are millions more, but these are just some that I found most helpful.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I recently wrote an excellent blog about how we should all overthrow the government.
Then something happened and I realized that I had much more pressing soapbox to get on.
Adam Lambert kissed a dude on the American Music Awards last night. He did other things, which I'm not going to comment on because I don't want to spend three hours writing a point by point of his performance compared to his female peers, and it's also not entirely relevant to the point I am going to make.
ABC chose not to reair the kiss (and I am only speaking of the kiss itself, not any other part of his act) because it was inappropriate. On the West Coast, his performance was censored. The blogosphere is all atwitter with disgusting and rude and disgraceful, etc this act was.
I am not even going to defend the kiss here. I am not going to make parallals between similar girl on girl kisses I've seen, or the amount of hetrosexual kissing/sex that I see on television, including ABC.
I was disturbed by how outraged the American public seemed to be, although this shouldn't be any surprise to me since; A) same-sex marriage is illegal in 45 states, and B) everything under the sun offends teh American public. You are finnicky, finnicky bastards.
So, as per usual, I went to my twitter to express my feelings, and said "You know what was offensive about Adam Lambert kissing a dude? Your reaction to it, America."
Notice I only mention the kiss. Not his entire performance.
Suddenly, for the first time ever, I was flooded with responses. Most of them were positive, but some of them were not. I didn't realize that this was such an important statement to make. I barely put any thought into it when I typed it. I am pro-gay rights, and I'm just generally offended by homophobia.
Once people started freaking out, I wanted to delete the tweet. Because I'm not a huge Adam Lambert fan. I liked him on Idol, and I like his 2012 song, but I had no plans to buy his album. I didn't really feel the need to defend him, and I could just not talk about it if I wanted to.
Then, for the first time, I think I really realized how hard it must be to be gay. I take it for granted that I'm straight, and as a fag hag, I always support and love gay people. It doesn't occur to me not to, and it doesn't usually occur to me that other people will. I have created for myself a very safe gay loving bubble.
I had somehow managed to delude myself into believing that because everyone that really matters to me supports gay rights or is gay themselves that everyone on the planet was like that.
This whole Adam Lambert thing makes me want to cry. I didn't realize how hard it still was to be gay. When I see people out, like Neil Patrick Harris and Rosie O'Donnell, and they seem so happy, I don't understand why anyone struggles with the decision to come out. I honestly didn't think that many people still cared.
I am disillusioned by the lack of progress I thought we had made. (I saw "we" in reference to the gay rights movement, which I consider myself to be a part of.) When people refer to gay people as being brave, I usually scoff. Because I think, "They're just people. Like me." But it does take courage to be open, and I didn't realize how much.
Today, because a few people on twitter on were offended by a supportive statement I made about someone else, I wanted to go back in the fag hag closet. But its because of that urge to do that, that urge I had for the first time to want to hide my love of all things homosexual (except for women, cause unfortunately, I'm not a lesbian) that makes me realize I need to redouble my efforts. That we all need to.
This should NOT be an issue. An adult male kissing another consenting adult male is no more offensive than any other adult kissing another consenting adult. The facts that matter aren't gender but age and consent.
In a time when the world and economy are falling to shambles, we shouldn't even be discussing this. It should simply accepted.
One day, we will look back on the way American treated gays with the same shame and regret that we look at how treated (treat) blacks.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
So I spent the last month or maybe two feeling a little rough about the whole thing. Rejection hurts worse the closer you get. But now I've redoubled my efforts.
I started a week ago, and I'm about 35k words in, and I'm hoping to be done writing the first draft by Thanksgiving. It's a post-apocalyptic young adult with zombies, bad ass female leads, rock stars, road trips, and even a little love story. Yes, it truly has it all.
I am writing this for a few reasons:
1. Zombies are awesome.
2. Thanks to the 2012 crazies, end of the world literature/movies/etc. is more popular.
3. I need to stop writing such misogynistic books.
4. Ellen Ripley (a.k.a. Sigourney Weaver of Aliens fame) is bad ass
5. This is exactly what my future agent Ginger Clark is looking for.
So, without further ado, here is the first line of my new soon to be agented manuscript:
"This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies scratching at the back door."