- If you don’t submit a story, it will never be accepted
- Read the submission guidelines
- The editor is always right. If they found your story boring, unconvincing or unoriginal, then that’s their opinion.
- If you want to know what the editor finds interesting, convincing and original, then read the stuff they choose to publish. If you don’t like it, then you’re submitting to the wrong market.
- Everyone hates having their work rejected. Every writer has their work rejected. Successful writers are the ones who learn from past rejections and keep submitting.
- The best thing to soften the pain of a rejection is to be working on your next story
- Go for a walk
- This is the age of the word processor, you don’t have to write your story in a linear fashion. Write a later section, one that interests you.
- Always have two or three things on the go at once of different lengths. If you don’t feel like working on the novel, have a go at the short story. Don’t feel like fiction? Work on non-fiction
- Stop trying to get it right. Just follow a character and see where s/he goes. You don’t have to use everything you write.
- Change things around. What if a character was the opposite sex? What if they were younger/older?
- Still can’t write? Then take a break. If you’re not enjoying writing your story, then it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to enjoy reading it.
- Remember, the reader isn’t stupid; you don’t have to explain everything. They’ll probably understand what you’re getting at.
- Describe effects, not causes: she shivered not she was cold
- Unless you happen to be a Victorian novelist, there’s no need to describe everything in a scene.
- Writing about how characters react is often better than simply stating. The smell of the eggs made him feel sick is better than He didn’t like eggs
- If you don’t know the meaning of pragmatics, Google it. Now use that when writing conversations.
- Finally, don’t tie yourself in knots. Sometimes it’s okay just to tell.
- Giving a character a colourful hat or a stammer does not make them into a character. It may fix them in the reader’s mind, which can be a good thing, but it won’t give them a character
- Don’t be arbitrary. Some people construct characters by putting together a list of contradictions. You end up with a character that is original, but it won’t seem authentic.
- Don’t fall into the trap of trying to capture every passing character in detail. Focus on what’s interesting.
- Some people accuse others of the faults they see in themselves. Do your characters do that?
- Characters come alive in their interactions with other characters. Does one character irritate another, annoy them, make them laugh, make them jealous… ?
- Even better: what do your characters think of each other? How do your characters talk about other characters currently off page?