Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Little Pieces of Advice to New Writers 1

Although I'm not world-renowned, I've been around the block a while in the writing world. I've learned little things along the way that may help others as they begin their foray into writing and hunting for publishers. I'll try to post more of these as I think of them or as certain questions arise as I surf around the Internet.

Most magazines are good about getting back to you, but I have had my share of no replies, or I'll get a subscription form in the mail and nothing else. Then I'm not sure if I'm just on their mailing list now, or if that was supposed to be a rejection. Also, things change quickly for publishers and I would suggest checking websites before sending something out just in case something has changed. The Writer's Market guide will say one thing, but you'll find that the guidelines on the website say something different.

And just because a Christian publication accepts short stories, don't assume they accept fiction short stories. To me, short story means fiction, but it must also mean a true story that is short. Beats me, but I've run into that.

The best advice I can probably give is pick a publication you're familiar with or read a lot of issues of one and write a story with that specific magazine in mind. The artist in me cringes at that, but I've done it three times and all three were accepted on the first try.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Grisham - The Importance of Reading

My favorite author is John Grisham. I had the opportunity to read “People in the News: John Grisham” by Robyn M. Weaver. At one point Grisham says, “Throughout my school years, I read constantly and became familiar with what books were getting published. As a result, I came to believe that my story idea could also be published” (22).

Anyone who wants to be a writer has to read and read a lot. In college we had to read a lot of old stuff, so my stories either came out sounding old or didn’t compare to the greats I was reading. Then a couple of years ago when I began working on “The Sixth Commandment” I realized that I could write something just as good as what’s out there. And my goal for sometime has been to write about preachers the way Grisham writes about lawyers. (Although that plan is starting to shift.)

At the Blue Ridge Conference a couple of years ago one of the authors made the comment that the preacher as a lead character was over-done. I haven’t read a book about any. At the same conference an agent said that I had to have a strong female protagonist as well because the market is made up of women. Even if it’s a man’s book, which it was, men won’t buy it for themselves. A woman will buy it for him. So the book has to appeal to women as well. Suddenly, I was reading every Nicholas Spark book, which I enjoyed. I picked Spark because he was a male romance writer.

Now I think I have a grasp on the whole romance thing. I guess only time will tell, as I get ready to send the book out.