Writing Advice

I recently read that the best type of writing advice gives you guidance rather than specific actions to take. For instance, I was once advised to delete a particular character. This came from a beta reader (a non-professional reader who reads with an eye to helping improve the work; I didn’t know such readers existed before reaching authorhood).

I considered the advice…seriously. Took out the character and didn’t like it. Back in the character went. For those of you who’ve read my book, you know I like a lot of characters. I want everyone to be a suspect to make the challenge of solving the whodunit greater. But believe it or not, I got rid of and/or combined quite a few characters before the manuscript reached The End.

My best critic never tells me exactly what to do. She says a chapter doesn’t feel right, which makes me take a hard look at it again and again. Or she’ll bring up points I hadn’t considered like: have you thought about inserting a sub plot? Or she’ll tell me a character seems wrong somehow or not entirely likeable. My initial reaction is WHAT? My writing’s not perfect as it is? I have high expectations that what I write should work the first time around. If I was a boxer in a boxing ring, I’d expect to knock down the opponent in the first round. It doesn’t work that way.

This type of inexact advice allows the writer to dig deeper into the well of ideas and intuition to bring forth something better. More satisfying. When something works, well, if you’re a writer, you know what that feels like. Almost euphoric. No drug induced state can compete (not that I would know). But when it doesn’t work, there’s always that nagging feeling nipping at one’s heels. When I feel that nagging, my first reaction is to push it aside. But when I make the effort to revisit the scene or chapter and try, try again, well, let’s just say it equals eating a whole coconut cream cake by myself without feeling full…or sick.

All of this said, I want to thank my wonderful beta reader, who really is the superstar of all beta readers for me. She reads and re-reads without any prodding. And has just the right insight I need. I’m very grateful to have her in my life. She knows who she is.

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7 years ago

Good job. I love your book, and can’t wait for your second book.

7 years ago

Thank you.

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