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This Is What Editors Know About Publishing That Writers Don’t

Good editors really can add value, in two ways.

First, editors are industry professionals who can educate often-naive authors about the facts of life in the real world of publishing. (Agents are great at this too, often even better.) The other answers have some excellent details on this, but I think it boils down to: Just because you want to write it doesn’t mean somebody else wants to read it, and certainly not that he or she wants to pay for it.

Second, and even more important, editors can view writers and their products from the outside, which authors themselves rarely can. Think of Burns’ “wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us”–that’s the power editors have and writers usually don’t.

Sometimes, that means being able to see the positive things an author or a manuscript has to offer, even if it’s not very clear. For example, I’ve gone to writers and solicited pieces that the writers themselves didn’t think they could do or didn’t think would be worthwhile if they did, and sometimes managed to midwife the birth of great work, just by editorial vision and support. And sometimes writers don’t know the value of real gems of argument or information in their manuscripts, things that should be highlighted and brought to the fore, because they’re so used to knowing or thinking about them that they don’t recognize how interesting or important they’ll seem to others.

A lot of times, though, it means being able to see the chaff as well as the wheat, the haystack as well as the needle, and finding a way to tell authors infatuated with the sound of their own voices or opinions that the piece would be better if pruned back, rearranged, rewritten, etc. Or, unfortunately, sometimes just dropped entirely, with the writer moving on to a more promising project.

Bottom line, editors serve as proxies for readers at large–proxies who, if they are doing their job properly, not only understand what those readers need and appreciate, but are able to help writers do what is necessary to reach them. Readers are outer-directed, writers are often inner-directed, editors try to bridge the gap between the two so their interactions can be more mutually rewarding. (Spoiler alert: that usually means asking why anybody other than the writer should care about something, cutting verbiage, tightening language, getting to the point, all the usual stuff.)

This Is What Editors Know About Publishing That Writers Don’t

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Now! Learn How to Conquer Your Writer’s Block and Summon Inspiration (In E-Book Form)

We at SilverHart really appreciate great resources for helping authors – we’re back again with KM Weiland

The one essential of the writing life is inspiration. You’ve got to keep those ideas flowing–or you’re out of luck. We’ve all battled writer’s block from time to time, and, brother, it ain’t very much fun. So what if I told you I knew a way to beat writer’s block 99.9% of the time?

It’s simple, really. All you have to do is create a lifestyle that nurtures creativity. When you learn how to fuel your mental, emotional, and inspiration tanks throughout the day, you’ll never run dry when it’s time to sit down and write.

But as you’ve no doubt discovered: that can be easier said than done.

Life has the totally endearing quality of derailing even the best of our plans, and as a writer, that can lead you to some serious episodes of banging your head against your keyboard when the words just refuse to come. It’s funny (or maybe not) that some of the most popular #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen tags I share on Facebook and Twitter are the ones about writer’s block:

CLICK for REST of the STORY:

Now! Learn How to Conquer Your Writer’s Block and Summon Inspiration (In E-Book Form)

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50 Writing Tools: Quick List as Handy Reference

Use this quick list of 50 Writing Tools as a handy reference. Copy it and keep it in your wallet or journal, or near your desk or keyboard

I. Nuts and Bolts

1. Begin sentences with subjects and verbs.
Make meaning early, then let weaker elements branch to the right.

2. Order words for emphasis.
Place strong words at the beginning and at the end.

3. Activate your verbs.
Strong verbs create action, save words, and reveal the players.

4. Be passive-aggressive.
Use passive verbs to showcase the “victim” of action.

5. Watch those adverbs.
Use them to change the meaning of the verb.

6. Take it easy on the -ings.
Prefer the simple present or past.

7. Fear not the long sentence.
Take the reader on a journey of language and meaning.

8. Establish a pattern, then give it a twist.
Build parallel constructions, but cut across the grain.

9. Let punctuation control pace and space.
Learn the rules, but realize you have more options than you think.

10. Cut big, then small.
Prune the big limbs, then shake out the dead leaves.

II. Special Effects

11. Prefer the simple over the technical.
Use shorter words, sentences and paragraphs at points of complexity.

12. Give key words their space.
Do not repeat a distinctive word unless you intend a specific effect.

13. Play with words, even in serious stories.
Choose words the average writer avoids but the average reader understands.

14. Get the name of the dog.
Dig for the concrete and specific, details that appeal to the senses.

15. Pay attention to names.
Interesting names attract the writer and the reader.

16. Seek original images.
Reject cliche and first-level creativity.

17. Riff on the creative language of others.
Make word lists, free-associate, be surprised by language.

18. Set the pace with sentence length.
Vary sentences to influence the reader’s speed.

19. Vary the lengths of paragraphs.
Go short or long — or make a “turn”– to match your intent.

20. Choose the number of elements with a purpose in mind.
One, two, three, or four: Each sends a secret message to the reader.

21. Know when to back off and when to show off.
When the topic is most serious, understate; when least serious, exaggerate.

22. Climb up and down the ladder of abstraction.
Learn when to show, when to tell, and when to do both.

23. Tune your voice.
Read drafts aloud.

III. Blueprints

24. Work from a plan.
Index the big parts of your work.

25. Learn the difference between reports and stories.
Use one to render information, the other to render experience.

26. Use dialogue as a form of action.
Dialogue advances narrative; quotes delay it.

27. Reveal traits of character.
Show characteristics through scenes, details, and dialogue.

28. Put odd and interesting things next to each other.
Help the reader learn from contrast.

29. Foreshadow dramatic events or powerful conclusions.
Plant important clues early.

30. To generate suspense, use internal cliffhangers.
To propel readers, make them wait.

31. Build your work around a key question.
Good stories need an engine, a question the action answers for the reader.

32. Place gold coins along the path.
Reward the reader with high points, especially in the middle.

33. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Purposeful repetition links the parts.

34. Write from different cinematic angles.
Turn your notebook into a “camera.”

35. Report and write for scenes.
Then align them in a meaningful sequence.

36. Mix narrative modes.
Combine story forms using the “broken line.”

37. In short pieces of writing, don’t waste a syllable.
Shape shorter works with wit and polish.

38. Prefer archetypes to stereotypes.
Use subtle symbols, not crashing cymbals.

39. Write toward an ending.
Help readers close the circle of meaning.

IV. Useful Habits

40. Draft a mission statement for your work.
To sharpen your learning, write about your writing.

41. Turn procrastination into rehearsal.
Plan and write it first in your head.

42. Do your homework well in advance.
Prepare for the expected — and unexpected.

43. Read for both form and content.
Examine the machinery beneath the text.

44. Save string.
For big projects, save scraps others would toss.

45. Break long projects into parts.
Then assemble the pieces into something whole.

46. Take interest in all crafts that support your work.
To do your best, help others do their best.

47. Recruit your own support group.
Create a corps of helpers for feedback.

48. Limit self-criticism in early drafts.
Turn it loose during revision.

49. Learn from your critics.
Tolerate even unreasonable criticism.

50. Own the tools of your craft.
Build a writing workbench to store your tools.

50 Writing Tools: Quick List as Handy Reference

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Stuck – What are your tips for moving past writer’s block?

Stuck – What are your tips for moving past writer’s block?

 

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The Single Best Trick for Originality in Your Fiction

The Single Best Trick for Originality in Your Fiction

This week’s video from one of our favorite’s K.M. Weiland, shares the most important question you can ask yourself about originality in your fiction and how to access it in every single scene.

Video Transcript:

Originality is an important quality test for fiction—although perhaps not quiteas much as we like to make out. Pulitzer-winner Willa Cather tells us,

There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they never happened.

But the fact remains that originality is, if nothing else, a tremendous marketing point for our books. So how do we find it?

I’ve talked before about how the most original thing you can bring to any story is yourself—your own unique views and experiences. But it does go a little deeper than that. There are definite techniques we can employ to seek out and take advantage of the potential for originality in our stories.

The biggest one comes as the result of the answer to the simple question:What is originality? Originality, I think we can all agree, is simply the unexpected. It’s something new. It’s something readers haven’t already experienced or thought up on their own before reading it in the pages of your book.

As such, the question you then need to ask yourself is: What would be unexpected in your story? And you need to ask this not just for the premise in general, but for every moment in your story.

George Armitage’s Grosse Pointe Blank is a good example of this. Aside from the generally original premise of a professional killer attending his high school reunion, you’ve also got very original choices at almost every juncture.

  • Do we expect him to visit a psychiatrist?
  • Do we expect that psychiatrist to keep scheduling him an appointment even though he’s refused to treat him?
  • Do we expect the jilted high school sweetheart to kiss him the first time he sees her?
  • Do we expect him to tell everyone the straight-up truth whenever he’s asked what he does for a living?
 

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Write a Book Review That Helps, Not Hinders

Sooner or later, passion, generosity, or selfishness will push you to review someone’s book.

Passion: You either love or hate the book so much that you must tell the world.

Generosity: You know the book’s message will help others. Or, you want to help the author sell books and understand that reviews help sell books.

Selfishness: Your review of another’s book helps your own books when you sign your reviews “author of [your book title].” Most book buyers purchase more than one title on any given subject. So when they’re looking for a book on leadership, customer service, or whatever and see other titles mentioned in the book review section, which triggers them to take a look at your own. You can also draw attention to your speaking, training, or consulting business in that review. Finally, as a much appreciated content curator, you can post your book review of other books on your own social media and subscription sites.

With the following “Dos” in mind, you should be able to write a substantive review in 5-10 minutes. Offered from my earlier years of writing book reviews for the Houston Chronicle (business books and self-help), these guidelines work well for most categories of nonfiction and fiction.

 

To read more about it, click here – Write a Book Review That Helps, Not Hinders — Part 1

 

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Fit@50 / week 17

2015-07-09 13.22.54

Fit@50 / week 17
The more things change:

The last time I was in NYC was the early 1990’s working a wiretap for the DEA. My partner and I came up to join with the NYPD & DEA’s New York field office to track down criminals operating across country.

WOW, that was a long time ago, but coming back this week also included lots of concentration on crime and dastardly villains.

I’m presenting and attending International Thriller Writers Organization‘s ThrillerFest while on vacation. Everyone from Lee Child to Steve Berry to John Gilstrap to Liliana Hart (you had to guess that one), plus many more.

My hotel is a lot nicer than the shanties we were stuck in during surveillances and sting operations in the 90’s. Our food is sit down and eat, instead of grab it and go. And instead of a submachine gun strapped around my neck, I have a conference layard.

What I thought would be true, still very much is–I’d prefer the company of those men and women in blue who’d sacrificed so much if only to make the world a little safer for a brief moment in time.

I enjoy the embrace of writers who so meticulously craft stories about those same cops I’ve served with over the past 25 years. But if I had my choice, I’d be back behind the binoculars with a submachine around my neck waiting to snatch the next bad guy who surfaced from his hole.

It’s important to never, ever forget where you come from. Even if it meant long days and sleepless nights to get somewhere else.

Do good,
Scott

 

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