A few weeks ago when I was at an author fair, a group of students asked for an interview. These young writers were in Junior High and once past their shyness they asked great questions. I don't write YA, but I'm comfortable talking with kids and we had an enjoyable time. Later, I realized I had given them standard answers and wished I could have offered them more. So I worked on making a Writer's TO DO List. Now keep in mind this isn't the end all of lists, it is merely a stepping stone to get the anxious writer started down a productive path.
A Writer's TO DO List:
FIND YOUR IDENTITY AS AN AUTHOR!
Whether published or not, fine tune who you are and what you stand for.
Stand for something ~ this means be knowledgeable in your genre.
Be the one in the room who knows the most about your topic.
(as a historical writer using early American settings, I am continually questioned about the "era." Most of these folks are history buffs!)
Decisions and sacrifices need to be made.
Write regularly - make a schedule and then stick to it.
I make weekly goals - daily are too stressful for me. But I enjoy reaching my weekly goals. I see progress and that urges me to make more.
MORE SPECIFIC GOALS
Develop three dimentional characters: are they insightful? caring? too perfect? too beautiful? The characters people remember are the ones with human flaws. Don't deny your character the chance to be real!
Give your storyline free reign - the surprises will make a better read and make your characters come alive. The plot will become clearer no matter how bumpy or twisted it is.
"SAVE THE CAT" SYNDROME
(by author and scriptwriter Blake Snyder)
Action alone will not endear your characters to your readers!
Develop your characters so your readers will care.
Refer back to MORE SPECIFIC GOALS!
MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN
Your book, your story should be a journey of growth for your characters, and that equals change.
Edit your work: for your work in progress to become a polished manuscript, professional editing is best. Invest the time and money.
Join a writer's group or a critique group. This will help writers to stay on task with writing goals. Plus it's just more fun working and talking with other writers.
Volunteer at conferences, workshops, etc.
BE PREPARED/BE PROFESSIONAL
Tell others who you are: website, blogging - you know the drill!
Use business cards to press kits to U-Tube and radio.
Circulate and network - now is not the time to be shy!
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SELLING
Whittle away at your storyline until you can say what your book is about in a few sentences. Check the movie listings - they tell the storyline in a few lines.
Do the same for your novel. Then ask: does my title enhance this concept? Keep working until you have a pitch and a title that explains your work.
Do the same for your synopsis: this is the time to tell not show the basic parts of your story. Read other synopsis, check out books on proposal and synopsis writing. Practice, rewrite, and rewrite again. Keep it short. Think "bare necessities."
KNOW WHO YOU ARE SELLING TO
Research, research, research to find the type of publisher you need.
Check writer's magazines, Writer's Market book, on-line sights, ideas from writers groups to find a publisher or editor.
Be patient. Keep searching!
BEGIN ANOTHER STORY!
And the process starts all over!
My basic TO Do List is hardly complete. There are lots of ideas on developing good writing. Please add to this list so other writers may benefit.
Til next time ~