My Top Insights from January/February Issue of Writer’s Digest
Keep going, and you’ll succeed. This is the motto of the January/February issue of my favorite Writer’s Digest. We all need motivation at the beginning of a new year, especially the year that follows 2020.
Writer’s Digest 01/02 2021 gives you this and so much more. Read on to learn my top insights and tips from this issue.
The Seven Pillars of Freelance Success
After writing for magazines for years, Don Vaughan collected seven “Do’s” that will help anyone build a career in freelance writing – actually, in any kind of writing. Question. Give. Grow. But most importantly, don’t give up.
Don’t let rejection make you less confident. It’s just the nature of the profession.
If you don’t quit, you’ll succeed.Don Vaughan
God knows I needed to hear that.
The other piece of advice I loved in this article is about professionalism.
No matter how many articles or books you’ve published, you must treat every assignment as if it is your first one and your career depends on it.Don Vaughan
In this section Rachel Menard, the author of YA fantasy novel Steel Hand, Cold Heart and grand prize winner of the 7th Annual WD Self-Published EBook Award, shares tips that helped her grow her audience. I liked these two most of all:
There is no such thing as small news. If you got a good review, or if it’s the book’s one-month anniversary, or if you walked by a girl who reminded you of your MC, share it. The key is repetition, not importance.
If there is no news, make news. Host a giveaway. Run a sale or promotion. Commission some fan art of your book to share. Create a contest. You don’t have to wait for something special to happen.Rachel Menard
A New View
This article by award-nominated fiction editor Diana M. Pho contains five tips for revising your manuscript. While it is not exactly motivating (it makes me feel discouraged at how much work I still have to do), the tips are highly useful. Here they are:
Make sure your characters are effective, not just “likeable”
Each character, including secondary ones, is the hero of their own story. Each has a clear agenda and personality.
That being said, minimize the number of characters in your novel. If a character doesn’t affect the plot, or if another character plays a similar role in the life of your protagonist, “kill your darlings,” no matter how charming and well-developed they are.
Track your pacing: the macro and the micro
Reverse outline your book when it’s complete. Read your chapters aloud. Vary long and short sentences.
For me, the most important part is the scene structure. I noticed that my scenes somewhat follow the following pattern: an action/hook, a backstory, development of the action, climax, and resolution. Diana M. Pho says that such a structure is nice, but if all your chapters are build in a similar way, it makes the novel boring. Dammit. She’s right. I’ll need to revise it.
Line edit to highlight your language
Basically, avoid adverbs and minimize adjectives. Nothing new.
Remember Chekhov’s gun and continuity checks
If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.Anton Chekhov
Every element you include in the story must have meaning: When you have a dramatic reveal, significant character moment, or plot turn, your writing has to build toward these moments with context clues seeded earlier in the story.
For me, it’s one of the hardest tasks in writing. Every time I notice such a detail in a book, I glow with awe.
Finally, know when enough if enough
Let it go, let it go! If your heart says you’ve done everything you could, trust it. Editing might last forever. Don’t fall into this trap.
This article features excerpts from interviews with twelve thriller authors who share insights on how to write a page-turner.
Set the hook. Make your setting alive. Tighten toward inevitable.
Keep it real and personal: The protagonist should care deeply about the central conflict in the story. And not just in a if-we-don’t-succeed-the-earth-will-explode kind of way, but at the level of if-we-don’t-succeed-my-world-will-end.
Figure out what your characters love and need and want, and then methodically take it all away from them.Blake Crouch, the author of the NY Times bestseller Recursion.
Another fascinating quote belongs to C.J.Tudor, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalk Man: “If the interesting stuff doesn’t happen till halfway through the chapter, then that’s where your chapter should start.”
Three Mistakes Writers Make in Act I
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares lessons from screenwriting that we fiction writers cam benefit from as well. The one that surprised me most is this:
Don’t rush the inciting incident. We often hear the advice to hook the reader’s attention, right out of the gate, but we must orient the reader. Those first pages should set up the hero’s ordinary world while also creating some sort of empathy for them and a way for us to identify with them.
Typically, the inciting incident happens between anywhere of five and fifteen pages of a screenplay. Where it happens matters less than how well you set that moment up prior.Jeanne Veillette Bowerman
Now, this is unexpected, as sometimes I hear the advice to start the book immediately after the inciting incident takes place, but it makes perfect sense, especially for speculative fiction. How can the reader understand the importance of the inciting incident if they don’t even know the rules of the game?
Four Reasons Why This Can Be Your Year to Find Publishing Success
I would gladly share this article as a whole: It is what every writer would be happy to read at the beginning of the new year. Let me summarize it with this quote by Devi S. Laskar, the author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues:
Don’t give up and don’t lose your stubborn belief that you have a story worth telling. I’ve had so many people tell me over the years that I didn’t have the qualities needed to be a writer. All of my writer friends and I have one thing in common: We didn’t listen to the naysayers. We kept writing. And eventually we all have been published.Devi S. Laskar
Keep moving forward, and let 2021 become the year of your success.