My #1 Tip for Writers

I was a freelance business writer long before I became a novelist and still have a thriving business writing things like marketing brochures and white papers. It's not quite as fun as writing historial romances, but I still enjoy it.

Over the years, I've been asked many times by would-be writers what tips I have for them.

My #1 tip is always the same. To write well, you have to be comfortable with writing badly.

Sometimes I state it a tad more bluntly, but the point is always the same. Too many would be writers, whether they write novels or product brochures, get caught up in that first draft. They think it has to be grand prose in order for them to qualify as a good writer.

For me, nothing could be farther from the truth. My first drafts of novels are nothing more than 5-10,000 word sketches complete with half sentences, flat characters and grammatical errors of grand proportions. And, of course, they are riddled with plot holes.

I'm fairly pretective of the early drafts. My husband, who is always my first beta reader, gets to see it at about draft fifteen. I affectionately call him "Mr. Grammar," but he's also great at pointing out plot holes and inconsistencies. After another five rounds or so, I'm ready for my critique group. Then, at about revision twenty-five, I finally have a draft I feel comfortable sending to an editor.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it helps if you like to spend time with your characters and their story. I sometimes joke that, other than character names, none of the content in my first draft of Le Chevalier made it to the final version. Still, I enjoyed spending time with Alex and Mont Trignon right up until the end, and it's kind of sad to leave their story behind. Nevertheless, there are always more stories that need to be told!

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