from Emily Bryan . . .
I'm so excited to share that Dorchester is running a fantastic Stocking Stuffer Sale! For only $2.99 a piece, you can get my DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS and/or titles from Christie Craig, Angie Fox, Alissa Johnson, Tracy Madison, AJ Menden, Elisabeth Naughton, Helen Scott Taylor and Elissa Wilds. Order by December 16th for guaranteed Christmas delivery!
This week I was over at Marie-Claude Bourque's MuseTracks, sharing about my experience moderating an editor panel at RWA Nationals last year. I read several dozen beginnings of manuscripts until the editors told me to stop. Then they explained why they stopped me. The errors the authors made became repetitious after a while, so we'd all do well to take note and avoid them. Along with the 6 problems I mentioned at MuseTracks, here are a few more editorial redflags.
Unappealing protagonist--While it's true that characters should have flaws and room to grow (without them you have no story!) the hero/heroine can't be so unsympathetic that the reader doesn't want to try on their shoes. Give your reader/editor a glimmer of hope that this character can be saved right up front or the manuscript is destined to molder in the slush pile.
Slow beginning/Too long in Ordinary World--Authors used to have the luxury of introducing their characters in a leisurely fashion. Now, you'd better start with the characters' world in conflict/imbalance or readers (and editors) will put the book down.
Overwriting--Flowery prose and over-blown language. CS Lewis said it best. "Never say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very.' Otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to write about something truly infinite."
The dreaded -ly words--Too many adjectives and adverbs, not enough descriptive verbs and specific nouns is the hallmark of sloppy prose. Circle every -ly word in your manuscript and think long and hard about whether it deserves to live.
Too much Telling--Show your reader what's happening and let them draw their own conclusions. Resist the urge to tell your readers what you've just shown them. Let your reader bring something to the experience.
Too much Showing--I know this seems like a contradiction, but not everything in your story is important enough to be shown. Example: George picked up the bar of Lifeboy and lathered his hands, the pungent soapy smell filling the room as he scrubbed between each of his sinewy fingers . . .---Too much information! For Pete's sake, just say George washed his hands.
The craft of writing has fascinated me since I took up my pen in earnest in 2001 and these are things I still have to remind myself of with each new story. There may be a few natural storytellers in the world, but most of us have to slog away with rewrites until we get it right. I hope these suggestions are helpful to you if you're an aspiring writer. If you're a reader, you've just been given a peek behind the wizard's curtain and found we authors aren't "Great and Powerful" at all. Most of us have to work at it, but it's a labor of love.
If you're an aspiring writer and are looking for a few more tips, please visit my website www.emilybryan.com and check out my WRITE STUFF pages for help on getting started, self-editing, submitting and a host of other writerly topics.
And of course, I'm happy to take questions right here. If I don't know the answer, I'll make something up (I do write fiction for a living, you know!). Or better yet, defer to my Chatelaine buddies who know far more than I.
PS. If you're looking for a stocking stuffer for the romance readers on your list, The Book Oasis will send out signed copies of all my titles! At 10% off! If you're in New England, I'll be signing there on Saturday. Click here for the details!
Oh, and Happy Chanukah to all who celebrate the Feast of Lights!
Friday, December 11, 2009
from Emily Bryan . . .