We talked about a lot of things this month so I wanted to touch base with it all before moving on to the final few days of this seminar. All the posts are here as well so you're welcome to go back and look at them if you need to and print them out for future reference.
There are some things we didn't cover but that's because every writer is different. No writer should say this is how you have to do it, for that reason. We're all different, with different backgrounds. Two authors can have the same exact idea but the story will turn out altogether differently because of that difference in personality and background.
If you know of another writer who has an idea and think you can write it better, don't do it out of respect for that other writer. If they say to you you're welcome to it, that's fine. Its not stealing, no one can steal ideas (they are just that--ideas, story starters nothing more) but it is a unwritten rule, respect thy fellow writer lol. If you don't know about their idea, its a different thing lol. I didn't mention this before but I thought I'd bring it up because I did know a writer who experienced this before, without mentioning names lol.
So when you get your idea, the first thing you want to do is create a plot and then that story question for the beginning. Writing on the whim or planning your story will get it to the surface. I write on the whim but that's how I prefer it; the choice is up to you how you write. Neither way is the right way, there's only your way.
So you want to make believable characters, a realistic atmosphere; avoid run on sentences, repetition, stereo types, etc. You also want to keep your characters in character, how ever you create them. That means, they wouldn't do something out of the ordinary determined by their personality. Using tags can help show how their personality is.
Spying on real people in real events can help you learn how to make your own characters more life-like. Don't forget, everyone has a good side and a bad side. Make sure the story has obstacles, something is in the way of your character reaching his/her goal--nothing bigger than he/she can handle on a realistic level. It can be something he/she thinks he/she can't handle but realizes in the end that it was possible (like in real life).
There is always a protagonist and antagonist in a story (good guy vs. bad guy) which can actually be the same person, split personality, a curse within yourself, etc. The antagonist could even be Mother Nature lol. Its your choice, you're the writer.
While writing the first draft, just get the story onto paper. Don't worry about making mistakes at this point. Its better to have too much than not enough.
*Don't forget to have all your supplies in your work area before you begin each day so you don't have to stop to sharpen a pencil or get a soda, or whatever you need during the writing time. Editing, research, looking for publishers all use the same writing time so keeping a daily schedule can help you. "Excuses" not to write are for the unprofessionals--you're a professional, make time if you wanna write.
When editing, use the editing checklist, find a beta reader or someone whose judgment you trust. Remember you always have the final word so if you don't agree, its okay. This is your story, your baby. Double check spelling, grammar, loose ends in the story. If it doesn't make sense, something is missing. Reading out loud really helps. If you studder, something's wrong. Listen to the words, if they don't sound right something's wrong. The ending should answer that story question. Open endings are okay but you still need to answer that question. Don't disappoint the readers.
There is no magic number of edit rounds. The story is finished when you can't make it any better. If its the best you can make it, then you're done and ready to find a publisher. Be sure to "shop" around before sending anything. A check list has been created for you. You're welcome to add to it lol. Never send your only copy. Its usually a good idea to have your story saved in multiple places--one in the computer, another in a flash drive, another on a CD and then one in print form. That way if the computer crashes, you don't lose your story. I learned that the hard way lol.