Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Writing tips 3-10

I am totally and utterly behind on my writing tips. I only posted two? Really? Hmm. I was sure I’d done more than that. To catch up, here a few tips rolled into one nice post:

#3 Jobs
Most of us have fairly mundane day jobs. But just how much do you know about the professional life of a postal clerk? Or a dental hygienist?

Research jobs here:

#4 Character Bios
There are plenty of character sheets available on the net. I think they are a great way to get to know your character in the beginning stages and an excellent way to keep track of your characters as they grow. If you are writing a series, there are a lot of details to keep track of. Make sure your character sheets are up-to-date.

#5 Professional organizations
If you can afford it, join a professional organization. I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, for example. In fact, I was crazy enough to volunteer for a position on the board of SinC HI and became Secretary. I’ve met some great people with SinC. Most recently, Jerrilyn Farmer whose Flaming Luau of Death is on my to-read list.

If you’d like to join an organization that doesn’t have a chapter in your city or state, see if an online chapter is available. There’s nothing like the support and friendship of people who know what you are going through.

#6 Workshops and classes
I just love the Romance Writers of America’s Kiss of Death chapter (
www.rwamysterysuspense.org). They have great online workshops for writers. If you can afford it, take some workshops or writing classes. Feedback and support are always appreciated, right? And there’s always something new to learn.

#7 Writing/critique group
Definitely join a writing group, whether online or in person. This is as much about feedback and support as the classes or workshops you might take. Show up regularly. But choose your group with care: A romance writers group, for example, might only be of limited use to a mystery writer. Feedback needs to be honest, fair and constructive (which is why friends and relatives often make lousy [i.e. biased] reviewers).

#8 Agents
Chances are you’ll need a literary agent some time in your writing future. Finding an agent is time consuming. Start your research now. Read trade publications and keep an eye out for agents who sell books like yours. Jot their name and information down in your agent file. If you read a book in your genre that you enjoy, see if the agent is mentioned in the Thank You notes. Sometimes they are. Jot down the agent’s name and the book’s information in your file.

When the time comes to find that one perfect agent for you, don’t despair. Also, keep in mind that rejections are business letters, not personal put-downs.

#9 Read
Trust me. Read. Read a lot.

#10 Write
Regularly. Often. Some writers I know wait for inspiration. And then they wait some more. Other writers I know show up daily in front of their computer, sit down and write. With or without their muse. If you’re not particularly inspired to write something new, there’s probably something old you can edit. It’s important to show up and write.

I’ve read somewhere once that it was easier to get back into the flow of things, if you finish in the middle of a chapter rather than ending the chapter and then trying to start a new chapter the next writing day.

Find your own best way to work. Establish a routine. Show up for work. With or without your muse.