Every writer needs an editor, even the most talented ones. And no two editors are alike. They do different services from critiques, content-editing, line-editing, copy-editing, and proofreading. They also have different editing styles and reasons. That is why I have gone through too many different editors. Many have been helpful and rational, but a lot have also been too controlling and even turning my words into their own—practically making my stories their own. I have never used them again.
However, when they give constructive feedback, there comes a process that I often go through: denying, rethinking, accepting, and writing. I could call it DRAWing.
I often love what I write, even if it’s unnecessary or serves little to no purpose to my content. When an editor asks me to change or cut something I admire, I will often deny his or her recommendation. This is natural as I don’t want to believe him or her.
After a little while, though, I do rethink the editor’s suggestion. I consider why he or she said that. Often times, it ends up making sense.
Unless it will screw up the story or any major material, I usually end up accepting the request at some point. Sometimes I even twist a suggestion. For example, if an editor asks me to remove an unnecessary element, such as a character, I will figure out a way to make it important. This has worked at least a few times.
And then the final step, obviously, is to keep writing. Some stories are not meant to be enjoyed or sold, though. I’ve learned that a little too late. I have published six books, but only two are available to buy. The other four weren’t exactly good enough for the market. However, I had not realized that years before. I’d even pretested them with pre-publication feedback, and they got mostly positive feedback.
This process still applies to me now. It probably will forever.
Have you written a book? If so, good. Can it please strangers? If yes, great. Will it sell? That depends on who you publish with.
Traditional publishing is difficult to get into. You can get rejected, even if your book is a master piece. If you do get accepted, you have to give up control and wait for your book to be published, which can take months or years.
Self-publishing is easier and quicker. You keep all control and can have a book within hours.
Then there is hybrid publishing. They accept and reject authors, may let them keep their book’s right, and do other things that combine traditional and self-publishing. It’s not exactly the most encouraging, though.
And lastly, there is vanity publishing, which is often called self-publishing by many. They let you keep all the control, but they charge you for publishing (between hundreds to even thousands of dollars) and other services, like press releases, revisions, and more. Despite that, books from those companies usually don’t sell too well, even if they’re well written. I did so much marketing and promotion with them when my books were first published. And even though the books pleased strangers, they only sold an average of 25 copies a year.
I believe it’s because people do not trust vanity publishers. I regret using them. One was fine and I got along with the company. Another, however, constantly forced me to buy services, even if I couldn’t afford them. They wouldn’t let me out of anything. I got mad at them at least a few times.
I’ve learned the (kind of) hard way to not use vanity presses. People apparently judge books by their publishers. Books that may be worthy of becoming bestsellers may hardly sell if published by a vanity press.
Traditionally-published books sell the best. Self-publishing is fine too. In fact, the author is responsible for marketing on their own with either route. Commercial publishers might only market for top authors these days.
If you self-publish, I’d recommend using companies like Amazon’s KDP program. It’s free to publish. People trust books from them more. And books from there tend to sell much better than vanity-published ones. How do you tell if a company is a vanity press? Look for things like publishing packages. So choose your route wisely. I would avoid vanity presses at all costs. It’s better to get traditionally published or self-publish through Amazon KDP or even Ingram Spark.
Stories come in all forms, sizes, moods, and so forth. No two plots are alike. Some are similar. Some differ drastically. Some are short or long. And some are simple or complex.
Of course, each story will depend on audience, trends, and so on. Here, I am going to discuss tips for handling a complex story.
Obviously, your book will be short and sweet as well as very basic if it’s a picture book. As the audience gets older, the stories will lengthen and become more complex. And that doesn’t only apply to writing and plot, but also subplots.
Subplots are secondary storylines in a book that weave into the main plot and they all are important for the tale. If you’re writing for middle-grade children (about 8-11), you may only need one or two subplots at most. If you’re writing for teens (aka the young adult readers) or adults, you might need more subplots. Depending on your skill-level and storyline, up to four subplots might be enough.
However, if you feel you are getting too overwhelmed with subplots or storyline complexity, or readers aren’t receiving the right message you’re trying to communicate, don’t be afraid to remove content that doesn’t add or is not crucial. That includes subplots. Depending on your readers’ ages and levels, you can simplify your plot. If you feel you can’t remove a subplot or two, however, that’s okay. Sometimes, complex material is too important to be scrapped. If it takes you years, especially if you’re just starting out as a writer, don’t worry. Some authors have taken ten or more years to work on a story. One of my works took nearly three years to complete.
Remember, write from your gut as well as what you are passionate about. That is how you will improve and have fun.
We all know what inspiration is and does. A good majority of creative works, whether it’s art, writing, acting, music, or anything else, has some sort of inspiration behind them. Popular sources for inspiration may include life experiences, dreams, other creative works, inventions, and more.
One important thing about inspiration, though, aside from it not being the same as copying, is that it should come to you naturally. That means you should not force something to inspire you for any reason. I’ve tried it so many times, and guess what—it backfired. I got bored with the projects and abandoned them.
Just because you have a goal to complete, whether it was your choice or someone else’s assignment to you, that doesn’t mean you should force something into it that doesn’t feel natural. Unless someone requires you to use something that doesn’t appeal to you, you really should do what works for you, personally.
Not everybody has the same methods of getting inspired, and that is what makes each one of us special and unique. However, just like you wouldn’t force yourself to enjoy something others love, even if it’s incredibly popular by the general public or your friends, you shouldn’t push something to inspire you to complete something. Listen to your (internal) conscience. You will not only complete your projects more quickly, but you will also have more fun than if you push yourself to do something that doesn’t work.
I love to write stories. In fact, I have two published novels part of the same series available to buy online. The second book originally came out over 4 years ago. That was when I started working on the third book.
However, until January of this year, I could not finish one single draft. I would constantly brainstorm, outline, write, and give up. By the tenth or eleventh chapters, I would become bored of my ideas and quit. I would even read articles on when you should stop writing a particular story.
And then, at the turn of 2018, I discovered the reasons behind my constant attempts and surrenders. I had set my expectations too high. And while other writers can type 100K-word first drafts and cut after that, it’s the opposite for me. I needed to lower my expectations and word counts. So for five weeks, I hand-wrote my first draft and made it to just under 15K words. I decided to break and ignore as many writing rules as possible just so I could finish. And then I would expand my word count after that draft and worry about quality writing.
I compared this to playing a video game or raising a child. When you first play a certain video game, you need to start easy, at level one. Then, as you improve, you move on to the harder levels. When you first have a baby, you have very low expectations for them. And then you raise the expectations as the child grows and their brain develops. For instance, the expectations of a newborn would obviously be very different than that of a toddler and so forth.
I am still in the second draft of my third installment. I have also started handwriting my fourth installment and have plot ideas for the rest of my series. So for all you aspiring and current writers out there, try different techniques, and see what works for you.
I am not like many readers when it comes to reading physical descriptions of characters in books. A lot of readers dislike the author telling them what the characters look like. They want to picture the characters their ways. In fact, some readers rebel against what the authors say in describing the characters.
However, my views are different. Recently, I’ve been acknowledging that the characters in books are, indeed, somebody else’s creations. So I think it’s silly for me to get upset if a character doesn’t look the way I want. I support character descriptions greatly. I like to describe my book’s characters and encourage other writers to do so. In fact, I cannot really picture a character or keep a consistent image of him or her in my head unless they’re described with at least one trait. Otherwise, they don’t feel real enough to me.
I also wondered why people are accepting of character appearances on movies, TV shows, comics, and more, but not novels. That is because novels are not visual, so the idea is to use your mind to visualize the images. But I see it as the same. Visual works and non-visual are someone else’s creations for my entertainment. Just because novels don’t have pictures in them (with the exception of chapter books or graphic novels), that doesn’t mean the characters become mine to own. If I were to declare their physical appearance and promote that, I could get sued. But that’s a whole different topic.
Because the author created the characters, I believe they have every right to tell me, as the reader, what the characters look like with whatever descriptive traits they want—as long as it’s not too many (because that’s too much to remember and bogs down the narrative-up to a few are good enough) or offensive (you can figure that out).
But other than that, I accept descriptions of any trait. What I usually describe is a character’s hair and one or two other key features (i.e. glasses or beards). I never do eye color, because there are just too few choices, in my opinion. I also don’t do nose shapes or face shapes.
You can continue to approach character descriptions your way. This is just how I view them.