on and off for donkey’s years), I knew nobody. The famous names were daunting.
I had no clue about how to format a ms – not knowing it meant manuscript. People talked
of genres, (((shrugs))) and a dénouement was foreign to me (sorry!) Then I
joined ROMNA – we didn’t have the RNA Facebook page back then, or these weird
things called blogs – or vlogs – or authors talking about their work on YouTube
(as far as I recall). Nor did I want to look a fool and ask daft questions
EVERYBODY knew the answer to – or so I thought.
information and gaining invaluable awareness of the writing world. Sometimes I
even knew the answer to a query and posted it – and was taken seriously. I
know, who’d have thought it?
window, daydreaming – a lifelong habit, I cannot lie, and wondered at the knowledge
I had gained over the years regarding this business we call writing. I realised
I could not have been the only new writer who did not know it all, and decided
others might feel the same. So as this New Year begins, and new writers join
us, here are some hints and tips that might be of help or interest…
in longhand from the book of your favourite author. This helps get you started.
criticism. Seek it out at every opportunity.
upset if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended – even if you
think it’s wrong. And always thank
those who take the time to offer it. You never know when you might need to ask
their advice again.
a word to use the thesaurus. Do it again on the new word, and make the best use
of your vocabulary.
the work on screen or in print, read the
text aloud; awkward sentences or errors that sneak through earlier edits
show up readily when reading out loud. Or use Word’s Speech feature and have
the computer read it back. This allows you to catch errors you have missed –
especially missing words or words that ’sort of sound the same’ but are spelled
differently (e.g. Front me instead of ‘From me’).
on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again.
memo app or voice recorder on your phone – invaluable for when you have that
great idea and can’t find a pen or paper.
her fourth book last year, bestselling
saga writer, Mary Wood, keeps right on to the end of the road to get the first
draft done in 5-6 weeks (and breathe). So, reading and editing what she did the
day before is not for her. However, something that she is unsure of could send her
off track as she tries to find the details she needs. A killer when she aims
for 5000 words a day. So, she came up with this little trick. “I write with tracker on, so when I am not
sure of anything, I write what I think it is – then create a comment. In the
box I write what is concerning me and I need to check, and then go forward,
knowing that I can easily track something in my polishing up and check it out.
Before I used this method, I would probably have cut my wordage to around 2000
words a day as I stopped writing to trawl the Internet looking for facts.”
to some of our new writers.
last, but by no means least:
something you don’t know, or you’re not sure of – ASK SOMEONE WHO DOES! The RNA
usually know something or someone who can help you. And remember, no question
is ever wasted!
favourite hint or tip, don’t keep it to yourself, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I will share it with reference to you
on next month’s blog.
Sheila joined the RNA in 2004 as a new writer. Since then she has written best-selling sagas as Annie Groves. She’s a member of the North West Chapter of the RNA and loves to catch up with writer friends at the regular Southport lunches.
Mary Wood’s latest book, Brighter Days Ahead, is available now.