Monday, February 22, 2010

Advice For Writers

Okay, time to get back to publishing.

You may recall Harlequin's announcement of Carina Press, an independent, digital-only imprint back in early November (see my blog here). Angela James (who has been with the two biggest on-line romance websites, Ellora's Cave and Samhain) will be the Executive Editor.

About ten days ago, Angie published a list here of the top ten reasons she rejects manuscripts.

The list does not just pertain to romance. I believe it applies well to all genre fiction although perhaps not as well to literary fiction.

Interestingly enough, Britain's The Guardian posted a two-part article on "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction" here at about the same time. Some famous authors were each asked to give their "rules."

Some were clearly written tongue-in-cheek. However a number of them were terrific. These were my favorites:

Elmore Leonard: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Diana Athill: Read it aloud to yourself because that's the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK.

Margaret Atwood: Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong.

Roddy Doyle: Do restrict your browsing to a few websites a day.

Anne Enright: Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.

Esther Freud: Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained.

Neil Gaiman: Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

Hilary Mantel: Description must work for its place. It can't be simply ornamental. It ­usually works best if it has a human element; it is more effective if it comes from an implied viewpoint, rather than from the eye of God. If description is coloured by the viewpoint of the character who is doing the noticing, it becomes, in effect, part of character definition and part of the action.

Zadie Smith: Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.

Thanks to Coral Bergen for the link to the Carina blog post and to Michele Lee for the link to The Guardian article.

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