Author Archives: Scott Francis

Mistake 70: Quitting

from 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: If you quit, then you’re rejecting yourself. I’ve seen many people with a lot of talent simply pack up and go home. They quit. I’ve seen others with perhaps less...

Mistake 66: Getting Scammed

from 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from the Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Many writers feel frustrated. And desperate. They look at other writers who get published and they tend not to see much difference between their own work and published authors’ work....

Mistake 69: Not Having a Professional Website

from 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from the Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: A Web presence is a must for a writer. Yet too many writers have none, or they consider it a secondary priority and put forth a presence that shows minimal...

Mistake 68: Not Respecting Yourself as a Writer

from 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Some people almost seem apologetic when they say they’re writers. Especially if they’re not yet published. If you don’t respect yourself as a writer, who will? The solution: Writing is...

Mistake 67: Not Marketing Yourself and Your Book

from 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Writers tend to think that promotion and marketing is the job of other people, and in a perfect world it would be. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. Sometimes you...

How important is research in the novel?

Many beginning writers know a novel is a work of imagination, but seem unaware that the factual material in a novel must be as accurate as that in a nonfiction work. The fiction writer uses the same research tools as the nonfiction writer—particularly sources on the period he is writing about,...

An editor said my exposition in the first chapter is too long. Can you tell me how much exposition I should have?

from The Beginning Writer’s Answer Book, edited by Jane Friedman You’ve heard the old writing directive Show, don’t tell; think of exposition as the telling part of writing—the scene-setting explanation that provides back story, context, or description. The reason writing instructors caution against too much telling is that readers are generally...

I’ve heard editors say how important it is for a character to be well rounded. What makes a character well rounded?

from The Beginning Writer’s Answer Book, edited by Jane Friedman Well-rounded characters are distinctly individual; you come to understand their motivations, flaws, emotional traits, and other distinctive qualities. These can be related through a character’s actions, his reactions to situations and other characters, dialogue, and also through narrative. A flat character,...

What kinds of subject matter are most popular in novels for young readers?

from Beginning Writer’s Answer Book, edited by Jane Friedman The interest areas of young readers are limitless. They enjoy contemporary, fantasy, mystery, and historical novels and more—trends in subject matter for children’s books often reflect trends in adult publishing. Realistic treatment of current themes—including conflict with siblings or peers, dating and...

Is it crucial for scriptwriters to find an agent?

from Beginning Writer’s Answer Book, edited by Jane Friedman It is not crucial to obtain the services of an agent; you can always try sending query letters directly to producers and ask them if you can submit your script. But you’re likely to have an easier time if you find an...

Mistake 65: Not Staying Up-to-Date on the Business

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Like any other business, publishing is fluid. Things change. I’ve seen authors and even agents get left behind in the business as the marketplace, technology, and even consumer tastes changed. Too...

Mistake 61: Staying Home

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Writers tend to be introverts. We like to sit by ourselves and create with words. We’re not fond of crowds and gatherings of people. In a perfect world, we would create...

Mistake 63: Not Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: People have a tendency to be afraid of losing out to others, and they sometimes sense they are competing in the workplace. However, I have not found that to be true...

Mistake 62: Not Learning Patience

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: If you’re a type-A personality, publishing just might beat that out of you. You can’t make anyone do anything faster than they’re going to do it. Trying to push agents or...

Mistake 64: Not Using Conferences Correctly

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Too many writers view conferences simply as a place to sell their work. They march in with their cards printed up, with a stack of cover letters and synopses, and plan...

Mistake 59: Writing for the Market

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: It’s already too late to write for today’s market. Book-length publishing is a three-year-ahead business for a writer. Even magazine writing requires quite a bit of lead time. So what’s hot...

Mistake 60: Taking Any Deal

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: This is such a hard and crazy business that writers tend to take any deal a publisher offers. This is akin to taking the first marriage proposal you receive from the...

Mistake 58: Buying in to the We-They Attitude

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: In any gathering of authors, sooner or later you pick up a we-they attitude, where authors seem to be on one side, and editors and agents and publishers seem to be...

Mistake 56: Comparing Your Book to a Best-Selling Work

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Some how-to-sell books and articles suggest that you compare your work to something that is easily recognizable and best-selling. I’m not saying that doing so is absolutely wrong, but I am...

Mistake 55: Not Using Rejction in a Positive Way

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit Why this is a mistake: Nobody likes to be rejected. Rejection is not quite as bad as betrayal, but it’s still not fun. Yet rejection is an integral part of a writer’s life. You can’t take...