I just finished another John Grisham book, “The Racketeer” and it is typically Grisham; a great read. A convoluted and complex plot that keeps you guessing right up to the last page. That is talent. But it is also talent with a lot of help.
Grisham has a staff, as do many wealthy writers with guaranteed sales reputations. And that staff has many jobs. They supply ideas, do research, edit and re-edit so that the author can concentrate on presenting the story. If you check the dedication or acknowledgements in the books of well known authors you will usually find a long list of “thanks” given to those who assisted the author. Many times you will see a special “thank you” to someone who has given the author a place in their home or resort where they can complete their work in quiet privacy.
So you are a young or new writer. You are sitting all alone in your little den or office or closet with the kids and cats screaming and your spouse angry because you were lost in your writing and forgot to carry out the garbage. It is discouraging isn’t it? You may be inclined to give up. How can you hope to compete with “The Big Boys and Girls”?
I have been writing for many years and have the file folders full of rejection letters to prove it. So I want to encourage you to stick with it. Writing is hard work and good writing is particularly wearying. You are going to have to do all the work that the staffs of the big time writers have. That means it will take you longer to turn out a fine novel. But if you want to be, if not wealthy, than successful in your work I have some tips.
Stick to your genre. Many new writers make the mistake of jumping to a new theme every time they read a popular book. Write about the things you know – even if your knowledge of some facts is scant, you will be able to bluff your way to making the reader believe your story if you research the things you are not sure of. For instance, don’t make the mistake I recently read in a review of saying, “He showed her how to click off the safety on the revolver.” Of course, a revolver has no safety.
Don’t wait until you finish the novel to read your material. Excellent authors like Hemingway always read last night’s work the next morning. Make corrections to chapters as you go along while they are fresh in your mind. And have your spouse or friend read your work as you progress. It is difficult to catch all the errors when you are reading from a computer screen, so print out each chapter as you go along and have someone else read it. They will catch many mistakes that you overlook.
More tips in the next blog. Stay tuned – and keep writing!