I’m pleased to have author Becky Lyles guest posting for us today!
As you’ve probably figured out by now, writing a book rarely happens overnight. Though the first Author spoke just a handful of words—“let there be”—and complete, perfect creations popped into existence, we human authors must take time to develop our skills and refine our masterpieces. So, how do we go about the developing and refining?
I read and reread how-to-write books (writersdigest.com is a great source) along with lots of other books in a variety of genres, plus I subscribe to writing magazines, e-zines and newsletters, take classes at my local community center, college and university, attend seminars and conferences, join writers’ groups (local and national), and follow blogs and websites that teach writing skills.
Here are some of the newsletters I subscribe to by e-mail: C.S. Lakin @ http://www.livewritethrive.com/; Novel Rocket @ http://www.novelrocket.com/; Randy Ingermanson @ advancedfictionwriting.com; Larry Brooks @ Storyfix.com; Gail Gaymer Martin @ http://writingright-martin.blogspot.com; and Christian Fiction Online Magazine @ http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/MonthlyNewsletter.html.
The most valuable asset to a person’s writing career is just that—writing. Write every day, whether it’s a journal entry, an email to your grandma, or a funny blog about your first attempt to ride a bicycle. In addition, add a page or twenty to the book you’re writing. A good way to prime the pump each day is to review and revise what you wrote the day before.
Despite all that revising, and despite the thrill of typing “The End,” your final product won’t be perfect. As mentioned earlier, only one Author’s work is without blemish. But don’t let your fallibility discourage you. This is where the fun begins, where we hone those masterpieces.
The best writing is rewriting (according to EB White), and that’s what makes our work shine. If you need revision/self-editing guidance, search the Internet and read books like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. You’ll find plenty of helpful advice is available for writers these days.
When you feel like your book is ready, request beta-reader feedback from your writing group and/or critique partner or critique group. Put aside your ego, ask for honest opinions, and accept input, whether positive or negative, with gratitude. Although you may not use all of your readers’ suggestions, and some of the feedback may be painful, their advice will strengthen and focus your final product. I’ve found beta-reader input to be invaluable with each book I’ve written. Be a sponge, not a brick wall, when it comes to critiques. Listen and learn.
Once you’ve thought through your pre-reader comments and made appropriate changes, hire a professional editor for an overall look at the structure and mechanics of the book content. Polish your work according to that expert’s advice and then find a copy editor or a friend who’s a proofreading whiz to search for spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. mistakes. I ask several people to perform this service for me. Although I’m a freelance editor, I often overlook my own errors because my mind reads what I intended to say/write, not what I actually wrote.
Finally, you’re ready to begin querying literary agents and/or publishers—or to jump into the self-publishing pond. No matter what route you go, enjoy the journey!
Rebecca Carey Lyles grew up in Wyoming, the inspiration for her first novel, Winds of Wyoming. Her nonfiction titles, both available online, are It’s a God Thing! Inspiring Stories of Life-Changing Friendships and On a Wing and a Prayer–Stories from Freedom Fellowship, a Prison Ministry. She and her husband, Steve, live in Idaho, where she enjoys the creativity and beauty that abound throughout her adopted state as well as opportunities to hike, camp, snowshoe and cross-country ski in the midst of God’s grandeur. Currently, she’s working through edits for a Winds of Wyoming sequel titled Winds of Freedom.
Connect with Becky
Facebook: Rebecca Carey Lyles
About Winds of Wyoming
Fresh out of a Pennsylvania penitentiary armed with a marketing degree, Kate Neilson heads to Wyoming anticipating an anonymous new beginning as a guest-ranch employee. A typical twenty-five-year-old woman might be looking to lasso a cowboy, but her only desire is to get on with life on the outside—despite her growing interest in the ranch owner. When she discovers a violent ex-lover followed her west, she fears the past she hoped to hide will trail as close as a shadow and imprison her once again.