This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Jane Borden, author of I TOTALLY MEANT TO DO THAT) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent – by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.
winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Elisa won.)
I Totally Meant to Do That (March 2011; Broadway),
a story about a Southern girl who moves to New York.
Amy Poehler called the book “The classic story of country
club mouse meets city mouse.” See Jane’s website here,
or her Twitter here.
1. You don’t know what a story is going to be about an until you start to write it. And I write nonfiction! Even if the plot can’t change, that doesn’t mean the metaphors won’t.
2. Don’t write a book unless you have a lot to say. This sounds obvious, but it was a much bigger undertaking then I had anticipated it would be–and I had anticipated it would be huge. But I didn’t want to reach my page count with filler and fluff. It took a lot of soul-searching, journal mining, and ultimately time to produce as much as a full book requires.
3. If you are keeping your chapters in separate Word documents, combine them all into one well before the due date. I discovered the night before my manuscript was due that it was only two-thirds long enough.
4. If you see a problem, a gap, or a leap in logic, everyone else will too. There are no magic tricks in writing. Stubbornness never wins.
5. Don’t get tendinitis. I had just begun the post-proposal manuscript when I contracted acute tendinitis in my shoulders from my day job. I had to talk the rest of the book via dictation software. “It was a pain … exclamation point.”
6. Don’t write about a topic or incident if you can’t be 100% candid. No one wants to see you hedge, or shy away. Either go in all the way, or don’t go at all.
7. Jokes are worth the time they need. One good joke can take as long to produce as a full page of sincere prose. Part of the reason it took me almost three years to write this book is because I wanted it to be funny. Hopefully it is question mark exclamation point question mark.
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- NEW Agent Steve Kasdin (Curtis Brown) Seeks Clients Now.
- Literary Fiction Author Emily Jeanne Miller Writes “How I Got My Agent” (Lisa Bankoff of ICM).
- Is Originality Overrated? This Author Says YES.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- How to Find a Literary Agent.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
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