Thursday, June 19, 2008

Have We All Gone Mad?

Write, that's what we do. We lock ourselves inside a room with our computers and mugs of coffee or glasses of wine or whatever and type into the wee hours of the night until we can no longer keep our eyelids open. We dig into those dark little corners of our minds and conjure up wonderful characters, amazing story lines, and incredible twists and turns with only one goal in mind -- that readers will love our characters and stories as much as we love creating them.

That's the fun part. But the next step in the process will either make or break an aspiring author. Recently, I've heard more than one horror story from authors who are or have tried to get their foot in the publishing world's door. It goes something like this:

Okay, so it’s a bit exaggerated, but those who have been there understand where I’m coming from. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for how to avoid or how to handle that type of situation, except to say that success begins with you. So here goes, my ten tips of the day:

1. Don't give up!

2. Set a realistic goal and then focus on it.

3. Listen to the voice in your head but write from the heart.

4. Seek out a mentor; a knowledgeable, experienced writer who will push you forward -- someone who will force you to become the writer you never thought possible. Let him/her critique your work. Remember that pats on the back are nice, but they won't get you as far as an honest, straight-forward critique. Better to have your work scrutinized by a mentor (someone who actually cares and believes in you) than to risk rejection by an agent or publisher or, if your book gets published, a reviewer.

5. Time is precious. Ask for help then pay it back and forward.

6. Study the craft and research your work. It, or the lack of it, will show.

7. No pain, no gain, baby. Don't fall in love with your words. Nothing you write should be written in stone. Sometimes you have no choice but to rewrite that perfect line for the sake of the plot. If I had a penny for every word/entire chapters I’ve cut from my books, I’d have a fortune. So go ahead, cut and rework it! There's nothing better than to think you've done your best and then realize you've just topped your best effort.

8. Believe in yourself. If you don't, no one else will. Why should they?

9. And for God's sake, don't type "The End" until you know deep down, I mean really deep down in your heart that it's the best it can be. How will you know when it's "perfect?" Set your work aside for several days, weeks or months. Read it again with fresh eyes. Typos and awkward phrases will jump out at you, but if you can read through the piece without picking up the red pencil, you're probably close. Now go back to #4.

10. When you reach your goal, don’t forget those who have helped you along the way – go back to #5.

That's it, so what are you doing surfing the net? Go write!

Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. SILENCED CRY (2007) is available online at familiar shops such as all the Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Powells, Other locations include but are not limited to those listed on my website,
Look for THE DEVIL CAN WAIT in the fall, 2008.


s.w. vaughn said...

OMG that video is awesome! Thanks, Marta. You made me smile, and I needed that. :-)

Kim Smith said...

oh man. i needed this. thanks !

Marta Stephens said...

S.W. I knew you'd enjoy the video. Look familiar?

Kim, I think sometimes we get so wrapped up trying to do what everyone wants us to do, that we lose our souls in the process. Don't lose it or faith. Success is the next door to the right. ;)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Sound advice, Marta. I love that you adviced cycling through the steps - because that's really how it's done! Thanks!