Let’s be honest here–I might not be the best person to advise new writers, as I still consider myself a “newbie.” Writing instructor Randy Ingermanson compares the journey toward publication as being similar to a high school–you might be a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. According to his framework, I’ve only recently graduated.
But, since some of you may be freshmen or sophomores–I may have a few nuggets of wisdom that can help you along your path.
1. Study your craft. Here are some of my favorite writing books:
- Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets Novelists Can Learn From Actors by Brandilyn Collins
- Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
- The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises by James Scott Bell
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
- Writing Fiction for Dummies by Peter Economy and Randy Ingermanson
- Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
2. Follow agents’ and writers’ blogs to learn what is going on in the publishing world. Here are some great ones:
- Rants and Ramblings on Life as a Literary Agent by Rachelle Gardner
- Between the Lines, the Official Blog of the Books & Such Literary Team
- The Advanced Fiction Writing E-Zine by Randy Ingermanson
3. Join the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). They have many fantastic offerings for writers, including a wonderful e-mail loop where members can ask questions and join in the discussions. Also, look for local writing organizations that can help you make connections with writers in your region. I love my local group, Oregon Christian Writers.
4. Go to a conference! I can’t emphasize this one enough–attending a national conference (Mount Hermon) showed me how to take my writing from dream to a reality. They’re expensive, but it is SO worth it. Here are some of the best.
- The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Santa Cruz, CA.
- ACFW Annual Conference (location varies).
- Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference, Portland, Oregon.
5. Join a critique group. It’s important to have others read your writing and give you honest feedback. Someone other than your mom! Critique groups can either be on-line or in person. I like the face-to-face contact of a local group, but that’s not always possible. It is important that others in your group write the same genre and are at a similar writing level. I recommend reading B.J. Taylor’s book, The Complete Guide to Writers Groups That Work.
6. If you would like more tips, check out some of these blog posts.
- My interview about Mount Hermon
- Common Writing Mistakes: Back Up the Dump Truck…
- Common Writing Mistakes: Battling Backstory
- Common Writing Mistakes: Talking to Yourself
- Common Writing Mistakes: Couch Potato Characters
- Common Writing Mistakes: Beginning with Chapter One
- Common Writing Mistakes: Tension Headaches
- The Gambler–Writing Tips from Kenny Rogers?
- Titles That Make You Go “Huh!”
- When Characters Lie
- The Devil is in the Details