The first thing I learned when I decided to write a novel was that there is more stuff written about writing than there is about the Kardashians. And much of it has about as much value.
Of course I needed to learn a lot about writing a novel before I started. Now that my book, a thriller by genre at least, is in the powerful hands of the publisher, I’m making notes of some of the ups and downs of my adventure.
One was sending portions of the manuscript to friends or loved ones and asking their honest opinions.
Said one person in a phone call, “Don, your writing is excellent but the story is a little weak.”
That same day another friend emailed, “I love the plot. It’s exciting and powerful. But you might want to put a little more oomph into your writing.”
I took the part of the advice I liked from each of them and moved on.
Would-be authors learn early on how tough it can be to find a publisher or an agent who will pitch your novel to publishers. I hear that fewer than two percent of the novels written each year get published. That explains this old joke:
A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.
She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.
“Oh my,” said the writer. “Let me see heaven now.”
A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.
“Wait a minute,” said the writer. “This is just as bad as hell!”
“Oh no, it’s not,” replied an unseen voice. “Here, your work gets published.”
Publishers often have pet peeves about writing. One I know of hates the word “got” in a novel. Got, as in “You’ve got to go now” or “The Holy Grail has got to be here somewhere.”
Hearing this, I went through my almost finished manuscript and used the “find” feature to ferret out the word “got.” It was everywhere, especially in dialogue, trying to make the characters talk like real people.
I realized I’d been using “got” as a go-to word, so I scoured the pages, getting all the “gots” out.
Another friend who read the book said that too many of the characters had similar sounding names or names that all starting with the letter K or a C as in crutch. She was right.
It was a mistake to let a kook like Kenny and that cute K-9 police officer Kimberly take advantage of their triplet daughters, Karna, Cathy and Chris. Kinda like that.
It’s all fixed now, or so I thought several times in the process, until another quick spell check turned up yet another handful of mistakes. I jist don’t no how that happens.
Too be continyood.