What do writers and doctors have in common? They both need patience.
The Galley Cat blog (a must read–firstname.lastname@example.org) picked up on a tweet by One-Minute Book Reviews editor Janice Harayda listing the most overused put-downs in book reviews, three about character, two about plot:
- Cardboard characters
- Thin plot
- Cookie-cutter characters
- The book falls apart at the end.
- I just didn’t care about the characters.
As a reader, you spot these failings immediately. How can you avoid them as a writer? Follow the steps I’ve mentioned in previous posts:
Know the territory: read as many books as you can that can serve as models for yours in terms of style, plot, tone, theme, length, structure, characters, and setting.
Be authentic: absorb what you can from the books that you love, but don’t be the next anyone; be the first you. My resistance to books that smack of commerce, that were written to cater to a market instead of telling a story that the author must tell, is growing. Write the books only you can write. Editors love to find promising books and authors, but they love finding something promising and new even more. As agent Jessica Faust suggests, don’t explode the boundaries, but push them.
Write and rewrite: professional writers expect crappy first drafts. They rewrite until every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter are the best they’re capable of producing.
Share your work: even if you get feedback as you write, you will be too close to your manuscript to judge its literary or commercial value. You also need eyes for your revisions. Only capable, objective readers can tell you when it’s time to find a publisher to help you give birth to your baby.
Honor the process: Like reviewers, readers can spot lack of effort immediately; writers who accept nothing less than their best are praised accordingly. Assume it will take more time that you would like to
- Write your book.
- Get it published.
- Build your platform.
- Promote your book.
- Build your career.
The more patient you are, the more likely your efforts will be justified by the rewards and recognition they receive.
Nothing can stop an idea, a book, and a writer whose time has come. Persevere and your time will come!