Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Writing is the THING

Why is it that writers focus in on the last half of the writing experience more than the work itself? I am talking about the submitting to agents/editors and finding a home for their work? Seems like lately I’ve heard more people say, “Oh, you’re a writer? I want to write a book too. I actually went out and researched agents to see if there is a home for my book.”


When did getting a book published became more important than writing it? Scratching head here.

At any rate, for those people who are contemplating writing a book, (instead of worrying about getting published before you have finished the first draft), here are some things you can do to make your work better.

Make your own word dictionary. Pick a word at random each day and write it down. Find out the meaning and learn to use it in the right context. Then go to a new one. When you have ten new words, go back and write down the definition of the first one. See how much you remember about it.

This will help you to develop and understand the meaning of words so that you have a broader vocabulary and won’t misuse one in your writing.

Also, read as much as you can. You will not understand how to write a book if you don’t read them. You will also write something fresh and entertaining instead of what has already been done to death.

When you find something that really strikes you in a book or magazine, be sure to make note of it. What was it about that section that really stood out to you? Is it some piece of writing on setting that really struck home? Remember what it was that you liked and do your best to learn how that was done. The reason being, if it appealed to you, it will appeal universally to readers everywhere.

Lastly, learn how to edit. This cannot be said enough. You will never make it through the first round of edits with your hide intact if you do not learn to spell, construct good sentences, and no when to say know.

Your readers will love you, and that search for publication will be a whole lot easier.


Marta Stephens said...

Excellent, excellent piece, Kim. One of the best I've read lately. Great idea about creating our own dictionary

Terry W. Ervin II said...


Your observations appear to be right on target.

Kim Smith said...

Good morning you two! Man, you guys are earrrrrly birds :)

I forgot to say in this piece that you need to cultivate friendships with wordsmiths, and grammar masters, which I have found in each of you as well.

I have to say thanks to Terry esp. who keeps me straight on a lot of stuff. AND! who has gotten his first book picked up and I am very excited about it!!!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Very well done, Kim. Chock full of super advice! I am particularly passionate about reading to learn to write. All of my teachers have been authors who've led the way by pure example. Read until you can't keep your eyes open every night. And you'll understand more than the mechanics of writing, you'll understand flow, pace, story construction, suspense... the whole ball game!

Kim Smith said...

Exactly, Aaron, and as I read Mazurka I realize how much I can learn from you as well!!

Sheila Deeth said...

Great advice. Thanks.

I think I keep focusing on questions about the publishing side because it's the bit I feel I have no control over. I keep working on the writing, but can only dream about the publishing.

s.w. vaughn said...

and no when to say know.

LOL You did that on purpose! :-)

I too find it somewhat startling that so many people focus on publication and never bother learning craft. And then get furious when their "genius" is rejected.

(Sheila, I don't think you're included in that! :-) The internet is one of the best places to find out more info about publishing.)