Thursday, 3 March 2016

3 Ways to read like a writer

If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write.

Read as many books as you can in the genre you want to write.

How often have we heard successful authors like Stephen King say that? And its true.

But, how do you read in a way that helps you to write?

Here's just 3 ways -

Rule no.1
Do you skim any text, or just go past it completely because it doesn't interest you?

If so, learn from it and don't write anything similar in your book, whether its long drawn out description or over flowery language.

Rule no.2
Just as you can learn from what you don't like in a book you can learn from what you do like.

Does the author ensure all their characters stand out because they're so different? I love it when they do without dragging the story down to a snail's pace.

Rule no.3
Think about what makes the main character stand out or be a cliche. In a crowded genre like crime thriller you have to do something different.

I've tried to make Detective Inspector Duncan Waddell in my Detective in a Coma series different by making him doubt his sanity because everyone tells him his friend and colleague Stevie Campbell is a coma, but he's talking to him. This not only gives Waddell something that will make him stand out, it also gives Vile City and the rest of the series a supernatural angle.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Coping With Rejection sucks but you can get through it

It used to come as the sound of your manuscript in a brown envelope thudding as it hit your doormat.

Now its more likely to come as an email which in a way makes it worse because until you've read it there's this tiny glimmer of hope that its going to be a yes and that in a minute you will be dancing around the rooming yelling, "Ya, beauty." (I'm Scottish and that's how I celebrate).

They'll be no happy dance:)
You read the email and usually the phrase you get is "it's not for us" or "thanks for sending this to us but you weren't successful on this occasion." Your head dips, your heart sinks and all the other cliches happen.

So, how do you get through this crushing sense of failure?

First off, don't see it as failure. Its usually someone's opinion - just one person. Do we all like the same things? Nope. So, why would we like the same books?

Besides, failure isn't trying and getting knocked down. Failure is not trying and putting yourself in a position to fail.

How many people do you know who say they're writing a book who never actually write a book?

Too many.

What else helps when you get that disappointing no?

Well, I like to watch comedies. After yesterday's thumping disappointment I binge watched Parks and Recreation.

Laughing away the tears helps.
Chocolate also helps. Probably so does wine but I'm teetotal and it would be too easy to drown your sorrows. If you know when to stop, you go for it.

Talking to other writers might help. My favourite forum is the TalkBack one from Writer's News. You'll find it here

Most importantly if you got any feedback at all treasure it. Publishers and agents don't say things they don't mean. My latest rejection said they liked the idea behind my submission.

Be kind to yourself, folks. Remember the path to a writer's success is paved with rejection slips and emails. It shows you've been brave enough to get your work out there.