If you have a passion for creating stories but struggle to find time for them, take heart, inspiration is at hand!
Last year 7 of my clients were contracted for the first time by some pretty prestigious publishing houses. In the current publishing climate that deserves a Wahoo! But it also warrants a bit of analysis. Why did those 7 manuscripts get across the line and not manuscripts from the other 15 clients who I either mentored or did manuscript assessments for. In a word, their strength was…
Each of those 7 ‘lucky’ authors had a strong grasp of viewpoint hold (sometimes called point of view) and as a result their characters came alive on the page. We saw the world through the filter of the character’s senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing) and were privy to the character’s internal life (thoughts and feelings) which revealed inner conflicts that upped the ante of the external conflicts the character was already facing. Each genre has it’s own formula for how much of the character’s internal life should make it onto the page. Action adventure novels at the low end, romance and women’s fiction at the high end. But wherever your novel fits into that spectrum, you do need to understand and use viewpoint to make us care enough about your characters to read a whole book about them.
I recently assessed a manuscript that had viewpoint problems and I’d like to share here a small section of that report:
To create an internal life for the characters and thus build characterization, we need to know what characters are thinking and feeling. If the majority of the novel is action and dialogue with hardly any thoughts and feelings expressed, it doesn’t help us get to know your characters. And if we don’t know him and care about his journey, why should we bother to read about it?
The proviso here is that you only give us the thoughts of the character who has viewpoint at the time. Stay deep in their thoughts, feelings, physical reactions, to help us bond with them and feel as if we are them for the period of time that we’re reading.
We need to feel the character’s fear, not just see the circumstances that would inspire fear. And I don’t mean to write He was scared. In a story written for adults you have to pull us into the character’s emotions by ‘showing’ them, not ‘telling’ us about them. Does his pulse jump when he’s excited? Does his heart slow when he’s scared? Does it thump unevenly when he’s terrified? Can he stride when he’s confident and stagger when he’s overwhelmed? Show us how his emotions affect him, and above all keep us in the loop with his thoughts. Not just thoughts about what’s happening right now. Memories, and visualizations of what you think the future may hold, both have the power to evoke emotion. You need to create a depth to the story because action and dialogue just skims the surface of the character’s experience of what’s happening. You have to make us feel if you want us to care!
Whenever I meet agents or publishers and ask them what they’re looking for, they always give me some version of “An interesting story with characters that I care about.” Every time. Interesting story (plot). Characters I care about (characterization).
Your number one tool to build characterization is viewpoint. Learn it (there are heaps of resources on the internet to help you and I’ve got one on my website here). Practise it. Get published!
I’m cat sitting this week: two dear 18 year old ladies called Winnie and Millie, both of whom know and like me. Apparently these old girls have been together for most of their lives, and as they’re the same breed and size you’d think there would be some similarities in personality, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Winnie, the paler of the two, is like a timid little mouse. She makes no sounds at all, runs behind lounges when you want to pat her, hides out in the back shed during the day, and often misses out on food because she hangs back. Millie on the other hand is like a force of nature. She’s loud and proud! The darker of the two, she meows around the house in the middle of the night (in a Kathryn Hepburn voice) if she’s either lonely, hungry, bored or a bit achey. She stands beside the milk bowl until you put milk in it. She stands beside the sliding door to the upstairs deck and waits until you open it so she can sun herself – in both cases meowing if you don’t attend – and generally going through life with this amazing sense of entitlement.
I was having breakfast on the deck this morning, watching the two cats: Millie rolling around the deck admiring the ocean view, watching the Willie Wag Tails flit about, and warming her coat with some gentle morning rays. Then there was Winnie, hiding under a chair in the dining room, looking like she’d love a pat or a bask in the sun but not game to come out. What happened to her sense of entitlement? She’s just as deserving of love and sun and food as Millie. But she doesn’t get any because she’s scared.
As a writing mentor and author myself, I’ve met hundreds of writers, both published and unpublished, and I’d be an idiot if I hadn’t noticed patterns of behaviour in those who get published and those who don’t. Unfortunately it’s very much a Millie and Winnie situation. Talent is definitely not the deciding factor.
Millie writers are distinguished by a sense of entitlement. They stand at the milk dish or the sliding door expecting to get what they want (read: submitting to publishers, agents & competitions and believing in their right to be published). If they get a rejection or are ignored, they don’t walk away, they meow louder (submit to more competitions, agents and publishers) knowing that sooner or later their needs will be met. Millie writers will eventually get published.
Winnie writers, however, are usually crippled by self-doubt and hide behind talk about how hard things are, how few people are getting published, how fickle the industry is, how crappy their writing is. Winnie writers don’t submit their work confidently and regularly because there’s a soundtrack in their head that says What’s the point. and how can they become published if no-one sees their work?
Now I’m not suggesting that any old rubbish will be published if you only persist. Of course you have to learn your craft and continue improving. This conversation isn’t for beginner writers, it’s for those who should be published by now. Beyond talent and writing skill, how do you develop a sense of entitlement? Firstly, work out why you think you deserve to be published. Have you been writing for ten years and have worked damn hard? Are you innovative? Talented? Fabulous at editing? Stir your ego up. Get it on the job. Be a little grandiose in your own mind. Then write that down an put it where you can see it all the time. Mine is:
I’M THE MOST CREATIVE WRITER I KNOW
Purely my opinion but I believe it, and it gives me a sense of entitlement, particular in the fantasy genre. Of course I don’t usually advertise that because I don’t want people to think I’m a tosser. But I’m sharing it with you because defining why you deserve to be published will motivate you to write, to submit, to weather rejection, and to ultimately succeed in your career.
Don’t take no for an answer. When I was unpublished I had the Apollo 13 rescue statement pinned to my computer: Failure is not an option. Get cranky if that’s what it takes, but beyond the anger define why you damn well deserve to have a book with your name on the cover. Get a little Millie swagger happening (in your own mind, don’t share it with others or they’ll think you’re a tosser too!). You’ll be surprised by the results.
And if you have twenty minutes to sit with a coffee and watch this amazing TED talk, I promise it will show you practical ways to become more like Millie and less like Winnie…
Welcome to 2013 and all the publishing success that it contains. If you’re an as-yet unpublished author and want to be picked up by an agent or publisher, can I suggest that you make today – the first day of the year – the day you resolve to cut through all resistance (your own self-sabotage and whatever is external that’s stopping you achieving your writing goals) and GET PUBLISHED. Then you can have an awesome book launch with your friends!
90% of the process will be you deciding that publication really is what you want from life (as opposed to sitting around watching reruns of Friends) and then intending to achieve it.
Once you’ve decided that you WILL be published, there are simple steps you can take to get you there:
- Write a novel in draft and type The End.
- Edit the novel to the best of your ability – first structurally, then copy editing (grammar, spelling etc).
- Get critique from a crit-partner or writing group and edit again.
- Pay for a manuscript assessment and edit again.
- Get a crit partner or writing group to check your finished copy for typos.
- Submit your polished manuscript in the correct industry formatting to US writing competitions or Australian writing competitions (purchase the Australian Writers Marketplace for a list) or manuscript development programs with publishers or publishers slush piles or agents (if you want one).
- When/if you get rejected, submit to someone else. Have a list and work down the list. Be quietly confident about your work, but not boastful. Believe in it, and believe in yourself.
- Email me (as many of my clients have) when you get a writing contract so I can cyber-celebrate with you!
It might sound like a simple list – too simple – but the honest truth is that 95% of people I talk to about writing never even finish step one! Agents and editors have told me that 80% of people who pitch to them at conferences and who are then invited to submit their novel, never do! Can you imagine that? An editor of a big publishing house says “That sounds like an interesting idea. I’d like to see that manuscript,” and the writer goes home and does nothing about it. Crazy! But true. Self sabotage.
Have a writer friend keep you on track. Work through the list: write, edit, submit. If you work hard and have talent, it’s easier than you might think because so many people don’t take the necessary steps.
And if you’ve got any questions along the way, email me. I’d be happy to offer advice.
Good luck! (but remember, that luck is the meeting of preparation and opportunity – be prepared for your opportunity when it comes along. Make your own luck!
2012 has been a bumper year for me as a writing teacher, with 7 writers I’ve worked with securing publishing contracts. It often takes many years of hard work for writers to see their name in print, so as a mentor and manuscript assessor I don’t measure my success by instant results. However this year has been particularly gratifying with many hard-working clients finally realising their dreams of publication. If you would like to become a published author yourself, I encourage you to read these novels and see what publishers are currently buying.
In no particular order:
She saved his life, but she wants more from him than gratitude…
Mei Jing is feeling conflicted about not telling Rod that she is his rescuer. And as their relationship grows, her conflict is heightened after each date… She knows Rod is seeking the woman who saved his life, but Mei Jing struggles to find the right time to tell him the truth. Will she be able to trust that what she feels is his love for her or Rod’s gratitude for his rescuer?
She thinks she needs him, but she doesn’t know the secrets he keeps…
Threatened with the publication of naked photographs taken in her law student days, defence attorney Allegra Greenwood enlists the help of former SAS Commander Luke Neilson, unaware of his involvement in her brother’s death in Afghanistan.
In a race to stop the photographs appearing on the Internet, Luke battles a hidden enemy, his growing feelings for Allegra, and his conscience, which demands he protect a fallen comrade’s sister. As the stakes increase and more sinister motives unfold, Luke not only has to fight to save her career, he has to fight to save her life.
Passionate and headstrong, Alecia is no ordinary princess. Angered by the cold-blooded murder of her first love, she sets out to avenge his death.
Army Captain Vard Anton, the epitome of masculine strength and grace, is dealing with some dark secrets of his own. When he is appointed Alecia’s body-guard, both find it hard to ignore the chemistry between them.
With assassination attempts and the threat of an arranged marriage looming over her, Alecia realises her time is running out. But Alecia’s biggest battle is the one within as she tries to suppress the raging desire she feels for the powerfully attractive Vard. Can Alecia resist Vard while trying to exact revenge and avoiding the lecherous attentions of her husband-to-be? Will the power of love and desire be enough to unite Alecia and Vard forever?
Though separated by class and palace intrigues, Alecia and Vard are entwined by desire in this wonderful fantasy romance.
Ali has been hiding in an attic since civilisation collapsed eight weeks ago.
When the plague hit, her neighbours turned into mindless, hungry, homicidal maniacs.
Daniel has been a loner his entire life. Then the world empties and he realises that being alone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Finn is a former cop who is desperate for companionship, and willing to do anything it takes to protect the survivors around him.
When the three cross paths they band together; sparks fly, romance blooms in the wasteland and Ali, Daniel and Finn bend to their very human needs in the ruins of civilisation.
Lust, love and trust all come under fire in Flesh as the three battle to survive, hunted through the suburban wastelands.
In 1847 the love for a woman and a debt of honour threatens to destroy two men in the harsh penal colony of Norfolk Island.
Driven by intense jealousy and guilt, Lieutenant Edmund Thornton sets out to destroy convicted felon, Michael Hanlon, both of whom share a love for Sarah Henshall.
Her unexpected arrival on the island sets into motion a series of tragic events.
Can Edmund slay the beast of jealousy and find redemption? Or must he accept his fate and risk losing forever the woman he can no longer live without?
Miraculously, Mary-Lou Stevens has just made it into her forties. With the aid of therapy and NA/AA she has overcome a tricky childhood (youngest of six kids, evangelical parents); drama school; drug and alcohol addiction; the lure of rock and roll; and her spectacularly poor taste in men. She has landed a dream job as a broadcaster for the ABC. Life is looking good. Except that Mary-Lou has a new boss, a psychopath in a suit, a harridan in high heels.
Determined to avoid MORE therapy, and desperate to cope with an increasingly toxic work environment, Mary-Lou signs up for a ten-day meditation retreat that requires total silence, endless hours of sitting cross-legged, and a food-as-fuel kind of a diet (i.e. basic). For a woman who talks for a living, is rarely still and cooks for comfort, this was never going to be an easy ask.
Sex, Drugs and Meditation is a tale of learning to sit still, shut up and gain wisdom. It is a woman-against-the-odds scenario. But rather than travelling to the Third World or battling drought and pestilence on the farm, Mary-Lou must take the hardest path of all: to confront and overcome, once and for all, the darkness within.
Funny, sage, insightful and just a little bit twisted, this is meditation for the mainstream and New Age without the whoo-whoo.
The Batchelor Prince by Jane Beckenham (Entangled Publishing)
Release date: 2013
Today’s Workshop Wednesday guest is Rowena Cory Daniells, sharing her top tips on fantasy worldbuilding.
Rowena is the author of the best selling King Rolen’s Kin trilogy. Her new fantasy trilogy The Outcast Chronicles has just been released. And she has a gritty crime-noir also just released, The Price of Fame.
Rowena has an impressive publication list of fantasy titles, and once you begin reading it’s hard to stop. They’re addictive stories!
Readers adore her worldbuilding, and we’re lucky to have her here sharing her insights into the process:
World Building and the Flypaper-mind
Building secondary/created worlds gives you the chance to put your characters through experiences that force them to grow and adapt. Your readers go along with your characters on this journey, but only so long as your world building hangs together. If, at any time, the reader spots an inconsistency, they’ll stop reading to think about it. The moment they do this, you’ve broken the ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’. Once you’ve lost them, it’s twice as hard to win the reader back. So world building is important.
World Building requires a broad knowledge of societies throughout history. In fact…
What you need is a mind that works like flypaper. When I was a kid we didn’t have fly screens on our windows and in summer you couldn’t keep the windows shut so flies were a problem. My grandmother would hang a flypaper strip in the kitchen. It was coated with something that flies thought smelled nice so they would land on it and get stuck. (I was going to include picture but it would probably put you off your dinner).
When I say you need a ‘flypaper mind’, you need the kind of mind that remembers interesting/quirky/worrying things. For instance, in some New Guinea tribes it was the custom for female members of the family to mourn for dead relatives by cutting off part of a finger from the joint up. By the time they become old women, their fingers are just knubs. I don’t remember where I read this, but it stuck with me. I haven’t used it in a story, but when I do, I’ll give it a slight twist. The underlying theme will be the same — the high price of ritualised mourning — but it will be consistent the world and society I create.
To create interesting secondary worlds you need to have a broad general knowledge, packed with all the weird, wonderful and worrying things human beings have done over the years. This means that while you are writing, things will spring from your subconscious contributing towards a richer world.
Your created world must be logical, but not too logical. As a species we aren’t particularly logical. It’s only in the last hundred years that half the population could vote and get an education, only in the last fifty years that equal pay for equal work was made law. (And this is only in first world countries). It is those little illogical things that remind us ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’. Your characters will believe the way they live is normal because they have grown up in their society.
And it is hard for us as writers to step outside our society. If you read science fiction and fantasy books from the 1950s, you’ll find that attitudes of the characters often reflect society’s attitudes. Try reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K Dick. (The movie Bladerunner was based on this book). By researching history and other societies, you can glimpse how people have lived and are living even now.
Research is wonderful and a great place to start. If you are list-minded you can build your world from the ground up. There is no way I could do justice to the breadth of what must be considered to World Build in this short post. I recommend Patricia C. Wrede, who has done a brilliant job over on the SFWA site (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America). Here’s the link and from this page you can go through: The World, Physical and Historical Features, Magic and Magicians, Peoples and Customs, Social Organisation, Commerce, Trade and Public life and Daily life (All with subheadings of their own!).
When a reader comes to a fantasy trilogy, it is like taking an adventure holiday with the characters. They have to care about the characters and the world needs to be interesting, so take the time to work on your world building. Read about other times and other societies because you never know when you’re going to come across an interesting fact that sticks in your mind.
Louise: Thanks for fascinating perspective on World Building, Rowena. I’m sure beginner fantasy authors and experienced writers alike will have picked up ideas to help them create realistic fantasy worlds that stick in readers minds. If anyone has questions or insights of their own about World Building, please drop them as comments below and add onto the conversation. We’d love to hear what you think.
And if you’re interested in other Workshop Wednesday topics, the full list is here.
Today’s Workshop Wednesday guest is best selling crime novelist Katherine Howell, sharing her tips on how to use the details of your life to enhance the authenticity of your fiction. But before we get started, here’s a snippet of bio:
Katherine Howell worked as a paramedic for fifteen years and uses that experience in her bestselling crime novels, the sixth of which will be released early in 2013. Her books have won awards and are published in multiple countries and languages, and in print, e-book, and audio form. Katherine holds two degrees in writing and is studying female doctor investigators in crime fiction for her PhD at the University of Queensland. She teaches workshops in writing and editing, and lives in Queensland with her partner, who owns a bookshop.
Katherine’s latest release is Silent Fear:
On a searing summer’s day paramedic Holly Garland rushes to an emergency to find a man collapsed with a bullet wound in the back of his head, CPR being performed by two bystanders, and her long-estranged brother Seth watching it all unfold.
Seth claims to be the dying man’s best friend, but Holly knows better than to believe anything he says and fears that his re-appearance will reveal the bleak secrets of her past – secrets which both her fiance Norris and her colleagues have no idea exist, and which if exposed could cause her to lose everything.
Detective Ella Marconi suspects Seth too, but she’s also sure the dead man’s wife is lying, and the deceased’s boss seems just too helpful. But then a shocking double homicide related to the case makes Ella realise that her investigations are getting closer to the killer, but also increasing the risk of an even higher body count.
I’ve read and loved several of the Ella Marconi series and am looking forward to this latest edition! But without further ado, here is Katherine’s advice on adapting your experience into fiction…
Katherine: My first novel, Frantic, was published in Australia in 2007 and features police detective Ella Marconi alongside paramedics. It’s been followed by four more novels, and each continues the angle of using paramedics as protagonists, something that not only provides a point of difference for the books but also draws on my experience of doing that job for fifteen years.
I’m often asked about the process of turning that real-life experience into fiction and I always answer that it wasn’t easy. I initially resisted the idea and instead wrote bottom-drawer manuscripts about – variously – cults, forensic science students, and cops chasing a killer with assistance from a ghost. When I did finally recognise the drama and story value in the job, my first attempts to put it on paper overflowed with my grief and anger about the situations I faced daily and the people I tried to save. It took counselling and my eventual resignation to manage these emotions, and even then it was months before they disappeared completely from my writing. Once that happened, however, I was faced with the next problem: how to use these paramedic stories in the procedural crime series I wanted to write.
I’d wanted to have a paramedic as my protagonist, but couldn’t see how to have her plausibly solving crime. Over time I realised I needed a police detective; a scary thought at first, because I felt a huge gap in my knowledge—I knew the paramedic’s world so well, it seemed wrong to not have the same understanding of the detective’s. I wanted to be true to these jobs, and to not know it all made me think I couldn’t do it justice. I saw, however, how many crime novels are written by non-cops (ie, most of them), and decided to give it a try.
This then brought up another problem: to me, being true to the job of paramedic meant putting in every moment of a case, every question and answer, every action, every step of treatment. But as my manuscript grew longer, with scenes rolling on interminably for pages, it was clear this wouldn’t work. I reread a heap of crime novels, analysed how the authors delivered information, and saw that I needed verisimilitude rather than total adherence to the facts. The real-life details were like a garnish, to be sprinkled in here and there to add flavour and impact. Too much of it overwhelmed the most important elements of all, the reasons people pick up a book: characters and story.
I went back to the start of the manuscript and changed how I incorporated my experiences, and finally saw the work come alive. Months of hard work later, and a year after I quit that job, the ms sold as part of a two book deal to Pan Macmillan, and as I write now I keep the ideas of ‘detail is garnish’ and ‘story is king’ foremost in my mind.
Louise: Thanks Katherine! Great to see the process of adapting your career experience into best selling crime novels. If anyone has questions for Katherine, or has used their own life experience in fiction, we’d love to hear about it. Just drop in a comment below.
And if you’re interested in other Workshop Wednesday topics, the full list is here.
When you’ve finished writing your manuscript and have edited it to the best of your ability, you need to make a judgement call about whether it’s ready to submit to publishers/agents. This is a particular challenge for writers because it’s very difficult to be objective about your own work. We can all use some critique to give us perspective. Fresh eyes can pick out things we’d easily miss, particularly when we’re so close to the story.
WHO TO ASK: This is important. Don’t trust just anyone with your manuscript. There are other writers out there who will savage your work so they can feel better about their own, and they don’t even realise what they’re doing. Make sure you know and trust the writers you give your baby to. Also don’t ask family/friends who have a vested interest in making you happy (or miserable as the case may be). They can’t be objective, and in many cases aren’t even readers of the genre you’re writing in, so their opinions might muddy the water. If you want to impress them, wait till you have a finished product to put in their hands!
Writing support/critique groups can be fabulous (either face to face or online) in developing a support network. Wait a while before you ask for critique – that gives you time to find other members who are writing the same genre as you, and also allows you time to see if they’re going to be able to take their ego out of the equation. Try trusting them with a chapter to critique first, and see if you feel that they’re being objective.
WHAT TO ASK FOR: Being critiqued isn’t a passive exercise. You don’t just hand over your baby and hope for the best. You have to work out what you want to achieve from the process and ask for the sort of feedback that will most suit you at that time. If you’ve just written a rough first draft and aren’t even sure if it’s working, you can ask for generalised comment on the interest level of the plot, whether there were any boring bits, and if there were any characters / situations that weren’t engaging and interesting. It’s also helpful to ask for the critiquer to specify what they loved about the story, so you’ve got something emotional to hang onto while you embark on your edits (“At least I know I got that right!”). You might have a particular area you feel weak in (perhaps dialogue or characterisation), and you might want them to particularly hone in on those areas in their critique. If you’re pretty sure you have the structure right and want line/copy edits (grammar, punctuation etc) perhaps in preparation for submitting to a competition or agent/publisher, be specific about that, giving the critiquer permission to point out ‘every little thing’ that’s a glitch for them.
HOW TO RECEIVE IT: It’s easy to feel defensive when someone is telling you that your baby is ugly! Resist the urge. This isn’t a suggestion. This is a commandment. If you start pointing out why you wrote it that way and why the person critiquing didn’t understand what you meant, you’ve negated the whole point of critiquing. When your book is published you can’t run after each copy and wait until the reader gets to page 94 so you can lean over their shoulder and say “What I was trying to do here was…”. The book must speak for itself. So if a crit buddy didn’t get what you were trying to do, it’s your job to say “Thanks so much for pointing that out” and then when you get home look at how they might have misunderstood what you were doing and how you can fix that. If you’re convinced that 99% of readers would be fine with it, then leave it. But don’t be precious. You asked for crit, so listen and be grateful! Don’t justify yourself, just keep saying “Thanks so much for pointing that out.”
HOW TO GIVE IT: Make sure when it’s your turn to critique someone’s work that you understand exactly what sort of critique they want (see above), and do only that. You might mention in passing that you think the viewpoint needs looking at too, but if they didn’t ask for comment on that, don’t detail it! Also, frame your critique as ‘areas for improvement’ rather than ‘things that are wrong’. Remember, this is just your opinion, and many books that were rejected by influential editors have gone on to make millions. You are not an expert. You are just another writer trying to be helpful. Above all, praise what’s working. I can’t reiterate enough how helpful it is to get ‘positive strokes’ when you’re learning your craft. If a particular line of dialogue sparkled or you had an emotion surge through you while you were reading a section, mark that on the manuscript. Let the author know they moved you. They need to find out what’s working beautifully, as well as the areas for improvement.
THE BENEFITS OF CRITIQUING: 1: It’s free! 2: Picking areas for improvement in someone else’s manuscript will hone your editors eye so you can see those problems in your own work. 3: You form emotional support networks with other writers which will help you through the submission / rejection / acceptance process.
THE DOWNSIDE OF CRITIQUING: If your crit buddy doesn’t know any more about the craft of writing than you do, it could end up being ‘the blind leading the blind’. So if your crit group have done the best they can and you’re still not finaling in competitions or are still receiving form rejection letters from publishers, it might be time to bite the bullet and invest some cash in your writing career with a manuscript assessment or mentoring.
BETA READERS: If you know readers (non-writers) who adore books in the genre you’re writing, ask them if they’ll give you feedback on your manuscript. They notice completely different things to crit buddies and might say things like “This is where I thought he was the killer,” or “I got such a shock here, I didn’t see this coming,” which is really helpful in gauging the success of your plotting.
Well that’s my advice for this week on how to move towards publication. We’ll be back to Workshop Wednesday next week with best-selling crime author and multiple Davitt Award winner Katherine Howell who will be discussing how to create suspense. See you then!
There are more Getting Published blogs to read, and if you’d like to share your experience of being critiqued or critiquing, please drop that in as a comment below!
Today’s Workshop Wednesday guest is Marianne de Pierres, sharing her tips on how to have a productive writing career. Marianne is one of the most productive writers I know. In the last ten years she has produced 3 Paranormal Crime novels (Sharp Shooter, Sharp Turn, Stage Fright), a teen dark fantasy series called Night Creatures (Burn Bright, Angel Arias, Shine Light), 1 comic (Peacemaker), 7 sci fi novels (the acclaimed Parrish Plessis and award-winning Sentients of Orion series. Note: the Parrish Plessis series has been translated into eight languages and adapted into a roleplaying game) plus 1 science fantasy short story collection (Glitter Rose). Phew! I feel exhausted just typing all that!
But before we get to Marianne’s productivity tips, here’s a snippet of info about her: Marianne de Pierres is the author of all the titles mentioned above. She is also an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, three sons and three galahs. Marianne writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. Visit her websites at www.mariannedepierres.com and www.tarasharp.com and www.burnbright.com.au.
Marianne’s upcoming (November) release is Shine Light (Book 3 of the Night Creatures trilogy)
Can Naif Shine Light in the darkness? Read the thrilling conclusion to the Night Creatures trilogy to find out . . .
Ixion. The island of ever-night.
If she had a choice, Naif wouldn’t go back. But her friends will die if she doesn’t find a cure for the badges that are slowly killing them, and her brother is there, fighting against the Ripers who hold everyone in thrall. And Naif has knowledge that might save them all.
First she must solve the mystery of Ixion’s eternal night. Then she must convince everyone – rebels and revellers alike – to join her cause. And all the while, she must fight the urge to go to Lenoir – her greatest love, her mortal enemy.
The secrets of Ixion must be revealed. The evils must be stopped. A new dawn will come.
I’ve read and loved Burn Bright and Angel Arias and am thoroughly looking forward to reading Shine Light when it comes out in November! But without further ado, here are Marianne’s…
Top Tip for Productivity:
There are so many wonderful sites around with detailed, extensive writing tips, so I’ve provided links to some of my favourites. I’ve also listed my simple but *golden* rules for writing. These are the things that have kept me consistently published and productive.
- Finish what you start
There is absolutely no point, that I can think of, having scores of unfinished literary masterpieces in your files. Make a point of finishing what you start. This can be very difficult in the beginning as you learn the technique for seeing a story through to the end. Persevere.
- Put your work away for a while before you send it out
I cannot emphasize enough, how a story can benefit from being left to mature before re-working – and believe me, I’m the most impatient person in the history of the world.
- Seek professional development
Never cease trying to improve. Search out opportunities.
- Learn how to take constructive criticism
Constructive criticism is your key to success. Surround yourself with people who can give it.
- Be consistent
Novels take time. Develop the habit you need to produce enough words.
Links to Writing Advice Worthy of your Time
- Richard Harland’s Writing Tips – a free 145 page to writing Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.
- ROR blog – Cory Daniells and others make regular posts on writing and the publishing industry
- Stephen J Cannell – free online writing seminars from *The Master*
- Holly Lisle – pretty much everything you’d ever like to know
If you’re an Australian writer then you NEED a copy of the Australian Writer’s marketplace.
Louise: Thanks Marianne. Sometimes writers get so caught up they can’t see the forest for the trees, so it’s refreshing to have simple yet profound tips to keep a writing career on track. Many thanks for taking the time to share them. If anyone else has productivity tips they’d like to share, please drop them as comments below and add onto the conversation. We’d love to hear what you think.