You may ask, “How can you give me writing advice when you are far from being successful as a writer?”
That’s a good question. Lately, for some reason, I have begun to realize some things. I wished I had realized about 30 years ago when they could have done me some good, maybe even made me a successful writer.
First, I can’t express to you the importance of revision. I know you have heard this before, but probably, like me, you think your writing is great and doesn’t need that much revision. Don’t be that way. Recently, I decided that I am going to shut down most of my writing endeavors, but first I was going to try a couple final things.
One of them was a screenplay. I decided that I would make this my best one yet. I finished my rough draft pretty quickly and then began the revision process. I can’t believe how much better the script has been since I have begun a careful revision. I basically look at my script scene by scene; I mean I have scrutinized it. Then I used the Final Draft tool that reads the script aloud.
When I heard it, I find so many more mistakes. Word will also allow you to hear your script. You just have to go into settings and click accommodations. There should be directions on how you can have documents read to you. You will be surprised at all the wrong things you hear, all the wrong things you miss when you read your work silently. I have been telling my composition students this for years, but I haven’t done it much myself. “So now, not only do as I say, but also do as I do.”
The second thing I noticed is that it’s important to actually get into the story quickly. I looked at a contest that was basically a 50 pages 50 bucks entry fee contest. Knowing the contest was exceptionally well respected, I looked at what I thought was my best novel and flipped it to page 50. I suddenly realized that in the first 50 pages there hadn’t been much conflict to speak of. Most people would not read past page 10 if that far, and I wouldn’t blame them.
One of the final lessons I’ve learned is to write what you like to write. Something, maybe a bit of inspiration from my muse, inspired me to write a verse novel. I’ve found that I love doing it. I had forgotten how much I used to love poetry.
As a composition instructor, I’m going to shed my creative writing clothes and offer a summary of my main points here.
- Revise. It’s better to revise than it is to send out a bad manuscript.
- Get to your story. Make people want to read it.
- Write what you like. Otherwise it will be a strain on you.
I’m much older now than when I started this writing journey, and I’ve wandered many paths. Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten me much of anywhere except back where I started.
Take some time to take a good long look at your writing career before you start going around in circles.