How do you become a better writer? Maybe good enough to get a book published?
#2- Get a writing teacher
#3- Find critique partners
#4- Don’t give up!
I’m lucky…this book hits #1 and #2. It’s an editing teacher. I got it at a January retreat. I hate writing books, but I love this one! Michelle Houts unlocked its secrets, and I left her workshop with a list of 5 things, from the book, to edit in/out of my manuscript.
My first draft, preworkshop, was over 1500 words, way too long. The goal for fiction is 500 words. Nonfiction can have more. My story is realistic fiction so I can go over 500, but less is always better. By reading, rereading, adding, cutting…I chopped my pre-retreat draft down to 1053. I cut out 500 words. That’s a whole picture book! Using my own editing skills!
Next I finished 4½ of the 5 things from my retreat list on the second draft, post-workshop. Using Anne’s book, I cut the word count to 849. That’s another 200 words, and it was so easy! Hooray for editing! And hooray for my teachers, Ann and Michelle!
Am I done? No way! Time for #3! Last week I got a review back from a critique partner. It helped me prep my newest draft. I sent it off to my Sevierville critique group today. Next week they’ll offer advice/suggestions. I’ll decide what to fix, and how to fix it. I’ll polish the words once more. Then it’s off to Michelle for another critique. It’s the best part of her January retreat…learning how to improve my editing skills, then having time to make my changes. It’s almost ready. Hooray!
But that’s still not enough, not if I want an agent/publisher. My friend Laurie Lazarro Knowleton will read it, again. Then and only then, after all those critiques and endless edits, will my story be polished enough to send to an agent. I get 1 shot. That’s it! It’s yes or no. If you’re lucky, you get a maybe. That means the agent saw potential and wants a rewrite. And yes, more editing! I’ve never gotten that far! Maybe this time!
No matter what happens, I love editing, pushing a story to be its best. Here’s to #4, to persistence and to the adventure of writing stories! Fingers crossed!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!