After pouring hours, months, and even years of hard work into a manuscript, few things are as crushing as the rejection a writer receives when they are striving to become published. Yet, the truth is, some manuscripts don't even get read before they're tossed into the slush pile. Sometimes the reasons are obvious, and other times, not so much. But writers may be surprised how often the reasons could have been prevented. Here are some simple steps every writer can take to decrease the slush-pile odds.
Writer’s block. Every writer has dealt with it at some point (Stephen King claims he hasn’t but I’m calling bull), and it can be a huge deterrent when it comes to expressing yourself and getting your stories out. I will touch on some of the main issues that cause writer’s block, but the focus of this article is to explain how to push past the block and to go over the strategies I’ve personally found to be beneficial to me.
I remember the first time I saw "NaNoWriMo" mentioned in an online writer's forum. I immediately thought it must be some new, millennial slang term or text-cronym that I had yet to learn the meaning. So when I Googled it, I was thrilled to discover it instead to be an incredible, month-long challenge presented to writers everywhere: 50,000 words in 30 days.
All writers have experienced the first draft blues. The idea for the story came to us in a flurry of inspiration; the characters sauntered through our door, greeting us with their riveting personalities. Yet, as we sat down to write the story, the sentences stumbled and clanked together in an oafish web of prose. Too... Continue Reading →
It is a common fallacy that stories are driven by plot. The truth is, the stories that last are the ones driven by character. They're the ones where we've become so attached to the characters over the years, that we simply can't let them go, rather we continue to re-imagine these characters over and over again. Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield, Randle Patrick McMurphy-these characters are unforgettable, their traits carved into the memory of all readers who've met them just as if they had walked through the door and shook the reader's hand. These characters breathe and bleed upon the pages as the reader follows their stories in anticipation of what will become of them. How did their writers do it? What exactly is the perfect recipe for a character that bleeds?
It didn’t take long for me to realize that my first draft sucked with a capital “S.” Halfway through chapter one, I wanted to take it out back and beat it with a hockey stick for wasting my time. I’d like to say that this feeling dissipated as I got further into my first draft, that my confidence grew word by word, sentence by sentence. But I’d hate to lie to you. The truth is that I became more sure of the inevitable failure looming ahead of me, blocking my path to success.
If you expect everyone to see colors the way you envision them while you're writing, then you may be disappointed. I may refer to blood as crimson while you think of it more as a ruby red. You may think the sky a soft Carolina blue, while I would paint the sky with a tint of periwinkle. While this may not seem a huge issue, it can complicate how your reader perceives your work.
When it comes to grammar, writers tend to divide into two separate groups: the grammar police, known to frantically run down those guilty of petty grammatical crimes, and the grammar hippies, who believe that creativity shouldn’t be stifled by the archaic rules of English professors long dead. Personally, I fall somewhere in between. I have been known to obsessively scour my writing for grammatical errors and to proudly pinpoint mistakes discovered in novels or on corporate websites, and other times, I recklessly break all the rules. Writing is an art, and with any art, there are times to scribble within the lines and then there are times to push the boundaries. So, how does a writer know which rules to break and when to break them?