FIRST CHAPTER MISTAKES What follows are some insights I’ve collected, after providing feedback on hundreds of first drafts. I’ve tried to only share general examples that I notice frequently in the majority of inexperienced manuscripts. There is nothing implicitly or inherently wrong with any of these: they are simple, common mistakes, made by authors who haven’t learned through experience or education that there’s a better way to present or communicate relevant information.
Fiction, storytelling, is the same regardless of genre, and over the past century, we’ve made some gradual concessions in favor of organization and clarity over artistic expression. In other words, there are rules to good writing. Not about the word choice or material itself, but in the presentation of material. To take it from a handful of jarring, undeveloped flights of fancy or snippets of unfinished (and uninspired) scenes and
It can be tricky to self-edit a scene to make sure it’s working, so here’s a handy revision checklist for editing your novels, with 14 things to focus on or check. Each of these are useful tricks to improve a slow or plodding scene that you like but just isn’t dramatic enough to keep momentum. Watch the video for a full-walkthrough! What happens Motivation (what do the characters need/want and
Nonfiction books can seem a bit simpler, since we don’t need to tackle character development or scene description; nor focus as much on conflict or intrigue. However there are some unique challenges nonfiction authors will face and I hope to address them here so you know what to expect when searching for a book editor. Firstly, it’s hugely important for a nonfiction book to have a winning theme or premise:
There’s an ad I’ve seen promoting Grammarly: a young woman gets a new job as a social media manager, and uses Grammarly to avoid embarrassingly simple grammar and spelling mistakes. If you’re like me, you might think that a “real writer” already can spell well enough, and that somebody shouldn’t take on a writing job if they can’t. But here’s the thing: in the passion of first-draft creative writing –
Writing a book is a life-goal for many people, and the creative anxieties surrounding such an intense, long-term project can be distracting. If you’re like most authors, you’ll teeter between unchecked enthusiasm (my book will be the best in the world!) and practical limitations (how do I make the words go?). In my experience, most authors don’t really deal with the fear until later. They aren’t necessarily afraid of failure, negative
A 25-chapter plotting template to outline your novel A fiction checklist for each scene (essential elements) Adding suspense and intrigue
Recently I went to a writing conference and realized something surprising. Most authors spend years writing their book. Only a few study craft, plotting or structure – those that do often focus on the lyrical quality of language rather than the actual content (who’s going to read this and why should they?) Conferences are divided between agents and publishers looking for new projects, and self-publishing services offering to take author
Most people think writing a book happens in just two stages: the rough draft the final polish I’ve actually had disagreements with successful author friends about which part of this is the most valuable – you can outsource the rough writing part and fine tune it; or you can rough draft it and pay for editing. But an editor will rarely make the significant changes necessary to pull a real
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