WD Publishing

Living the Dream

Learning how to bake bread was one of my dreams. It was one of those things I desperately wanted to learn how to do, but I had no idea where to even begin. One day, I realized I wasn’t going to learn how to make bread by just reading about it. I had to put on my apron, get out the ingredients and get my hands full of flour. And sometimes, that’s what we need to do as writers. We need to dig in and commit ourselves to our writing.

If you want to be successful at publishing a novel, there’s a few key facts you need to know before you start writing. You need to have time to commit to the process of writing. You need to be creative in storytelling, and confident in your skills. And you need to know people.

Commitment is important because a novel won’t get written by itself. You have to pour hours and hours into writing, revising, and making that story perfect. If you write 10 words a day, and you’re writing an 80,000 word novel it’s going to take a very long time to finish. It’s possible, but it won’t be a very fun process. If you write at least 1000 words a day, or more, that process will still take a while. But do the math. You’ll be finished in a lot less time, and you may still have your sanity intact.

How creative are you? Do your words flow when you’re telling a story to a friend? Or is it difficult to share anything? There’s times when I’m editing someone’s work when I will be completely and utterly amazed at their storytelling. It’s breathtaking reading those words, seeing how the writer has strung the words together. And then there’s other times when it can be frustrating for me as an editor, reading someone’s work that isn’t ready to be published. Deep down inside you know where you stand. Be confident in your writing, and show it by using the language. Use synonyms for the word “look” and don’t be afraid to remove “like” or “that” from your vocabulary. Be creative!

The last element you need is people. You need to have your own network of readers and supporters. The profession of writing is not something you can do alone. Yes, the concept of your novel may be your own idea. Even the actual writing of the story may be completely on your own. But most successful writers have friends they can bounce ideas off of when they’re questioning themselves, friends to ask their opinion on what they have written, and share with them their hopes and dreams of being a successful writer.

Family support is very important, too. Your family needs to be aware you are serious about writing. Because if they know what you are doing is meaningful to you, they will be more understanding and respectful of when you need to close the door on them for hours at a time. They may even bring you food occasionally. When you’ve completed your novel, and you’re ready to shop it around (after it’s been revised and fully edited of course), those supporters may be the help you need to market your novel to the masses.

Commitment, Creativity, and Compassion. That’s all you need to get started. I believe in you. Do you?

Brenda Novak’s Annual On-Line Auction

Written Dreams donated 5 different types of critiques to Brenda Novak’s Annual Auction for the Cure of Diabetes 2012. I know several people who have learned to live with having this disease, so this is a topic that hits home. It’s important to help fund research for a disease that affects so many people. We’re looking forward to being a part of the Auction in 2013!

How Many Drafts Does It Take To Make a Loaf of Bread?

In December of 2011, I was Terry Odell’s guest blogger where this article was originally posted. I’ve made a few revisions. I tend to edit myself occasionally. The white bread recipe that inspired me to write this article I learned from my friend and editing mentor, Larry Segriff. For a time, making bread was a great stress reliever in my life. The white bread recipe was simple and easy for someone who was a novice bread maker.

 Most writers, in my opinion, submit their manuscript too early to publishers, perhaps thinking editors at publishing houses will help them with needed revisions. Unfortunately, in today’s marketplace editors don’t have that luxury, and a manuscript is rejected because it is not well-written. Revising is an important part of the writing process. Here’s my recipe for your very own well-revised manuscript…

You just finished your first draft. Congratulations! Finally, after months of hard work it’s time to submit your manuscript to a publisher. Wrong. Your manuscript has only the broad strokes at this point. Didn’t you know it’s time for your first draft revision?

Think of your manuscript as a simple recipe of white bread. You have flour (characters), yeast (plot), salt (climax) and water (setting) combined in a ceramic bowl. That’s your first draft.

What’s a good period of time to let your manuscript rise? A week to a month. As a writer, you need time away to distance yourself, and forget the story. This gives you an objective point of view when you come back to the novel to do the next stage in the writing process. Revision.

No matter what type of writer you are, you may leave out important little details in that first draft that will more than likely come easily when revising the second draft. Using this simple bread recipe, these little details are like spices flavoring your basic white bread. Specific details added in about setting, characterization, plot, dialogue, tension, conflict, and timing are so very important in making a once stereotypical character live and breathe in a world readers can relate to.

Okay, so you’ve just finished your second draft, reading all the way through it, adding in great details that even you didn’t realize about the main character. You also added in wonderful details on setting, and maybe fixed a plot hole you didn’t see before. What’s next? Submission? Not yet.

This time take a minimum of 48 hours away from your manuscript. Now that your bread has had time to rise, punch it down gently so it can begin to rise fully. In your third draft, be critical of the grammar, punctuation, transitions from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, and chapter to chapter. Be critical of every word your characters say to make sure it is in their voice. Be aware of how you’re “showing” and not “telling” the story to your readers. This is very important. And be sure to spend the same amount of time revising the middle and ending as you do on the hook and the first three chapters. Okay, ready? Now, it’s time to bake.

Your first batch of bread has baked in the oven. It’s time to taste-test it to see if it’s any good. Your manuscript is now ready to send out to your trusty First Readers, writers in their own right, who will give you an honest opinion. They may catch a few things you missed in earlier revisions. That’s great! But give yourself some credit. You got the manuscript this far.

Weigh your First Readers’ edits/questions carefully, keeping in mind their own success in the field before changing anything dramatic in your manuscript. Thank them for their help. Now, it’s off to fix those pesky typos you may have missed your readers caught, and bake another batch of bread.

Your recipe is the best you can make it. It looks great and tastes even better. You’ve spent countless hours on it, perfecting it, making it your own, and adding in your own blend of flavor. You feel confident you’ve given it your all. You have engaging characters, an interesting storyline, and a great conflict. The ending will give your readers pure enjoyment. And your hard work has exhausted you.

Now it is time to find a professional editor. They will look at your manuscript objectively, tasting it and weighing it against other breads they’ve tasted. You’ll get the validation from a professional in the field, and your characters will be happier. A good editor will make sure your characters don’t do something they wouldn’t or shouldn’t normally do. After all, readers wouldn’t buy bread that is crushed, or characters that push the suspension of disbelief.

One more set of revisions, adjusting the storyline or characters making sure the amount of flour and yeast is just so. Tasting it one last time before it’s put out in the open for others to taste. Yes, now is the time to submit your manuscript to a publisher. So submit it and forget it.

It’ll be a while before you receive a response. But don’t sweat it. You’ve written a wonderful story. You’ve made the bread you’ve set out to bake, and someone out there should like it. Hopefully.

And if they don’t, that’s okay. Just try a new recipe. Perhaps with a different brand of flour or a little less yeast this time. Sometimes it takes a few tries before a recipe is successful. Good luck!

Written Dreams’ Award Winning Author Terry Odell

One of the authors we’ve had the pleasure to work with, Terry Odell, became the Best Romantic Suspense Holt Medallion Winner, 2012 for her novel, Where Danger Hides. Visit Terry’s website at: http://www.terryodell.com/  This was the second book Terry and I worked on together.

Earlier this year, Terry contacted me about editing her novel, Saving Scott, which made  #15 on the Barnes & Noble First Nook program. Congrats, Terry!

Food for Thought!

Birthday Cake-Food For Thought
Football Birthday Cake

E. Tip of the Day: Food is a great way to add texture to your story. It’s an easy way for readers to connect with the characters they’re reading about. Think James Bond and his martinis. So, the next time you’re writing about a meal your favorite character is eating, don’t forget the smells, shapes, and flavors of the meal!