There are actually two chapters left in Telling Tales of Terror. I am not going to cover the very last one in this seminar because it is a collection of advice from a horror publishers. Jason Gehlert’s chapter on publishing a novel is a nice summation of what we’ve covered here plus a few nuggets of his own. It’s called Blood in the Water: An Essay onPublishing a Novel.
There are some basics every writer needs to know (and be reminded of from time to time). As Jason says, “The introduction of a strong plot, strengthened with deep characters that not only provide depth to the story, but strikes a certain chord with the readers remains a key ingredient.The reader needs an emotional attachment to the story…”
There are some items you might consider putting in your writer’s toolbox to help you avoid some problems as you create. The first two are an outline and a flow map (similar to a flow chart with interlinking boxes and lines to link the things which are connected). I also recommend using a timeline. Print them out and post them on the wall near your desk so when you need to refer to them, it’s just a glance. This also helps you see the novel in it’s wholeness, sometimes pointing out plot holes and flow problems to you. It’s the framework you build the novel around.
The next is editing. Yes, it’s a tool every writer needs and must use. No matter how good you think you are or how famous you become, your work can use the revision and editing tools. This is because there’s a different focus between the creative writing and the technical revision. Jason mentions using the trick of reading your work backwards to root out problems. You may have heard this one before but I agree with him that it works well. Another trick editors often use when editing is to change the font to a large point size like 18. Your eyes will pick up on mistakes when they’re larger instead of trying to focus on the whole sentence or paragraph at a time. Once you’ve finished, you can reduce the font size to normal.
Jason says this, “The editing process requires a lot of energy, dedication, and perseverance.” Very true. I had a woman in one of my earliest critique groups tell me that perseverance was the key to success. I’ve never forgotten that because it applies—not only to editing—but submitting your work, marketing and promotion, even putting up with other people’s negativity towards writing.
Always schedule time for yourself to write. Even if it’s only fifteen minutes a day. Doing so keeps you connected to your creativity, no matter what else is going on in your life. You have small children? So do many published writers. Sit the kids down across the kitchen table from you and let them color or draw, read a book while you write. Teach them that this is quiet time. When they’re older, they can do homework while you write. You’re not neglecting them, instead you are teaching them skills to focus and good study habits. Maybe today you only get five minutes, then tomorrow it’ll be ten. Make use of what you get and you won’t regret it. Let your kids see you reading—often.
So to end this seminar, I want to leave you with two things. First, if you do buy a copy of TellingTales of Terror, email me at krichards at kim-richards.com. Send me a copy of your receipt and twenty pages of a manuscript. Be sure to put the words Telling Tales of Terror Critique in the subject line. I’ll give you a critique for free. Bear in mind, I’m a bit of a nit-picker when it comes to tightening up.
Last, let’s finish this with the ending of Jason Gehlert’sc hapter.
“A true writer remains true to their passion of the craft. A writer never lets rejection, or harsh criticisms provide self-doubt or failure. A true writer never lets a positive review or a publishing contract inflate their ego. A true writer keeps both feet planted firmly on the ground, their senses sharpened, and their blood pumping with new ideas. A true writer refuses to quit. A true writer will bleed their work into that dark ocean of the unknown, never once with a hesitant nod. A true writer writes. A true writer reads. A true writer remains the greatest character ever written.”
Thank you very much for attending the seminar. I’d love your feedback on the information presented. Good luck with your writing!