Writing and Publishing: Where Do I Start?

I wanted to write a novel, so to begin, I wrote a novel.  I thought this made a terrific amount of sense.  Turns out, this might not have been the best first step.  In retrospect, I think it maybe should have been number four.  So what should have come first?

Learn How to Not Write Bad

I wish I had read more on how to write well.  I had two college degrees, could construct complete sentences, and read a lot.  In my mind, that was all I needed to be off and running.  Perhaps if I hadn’t had an idea for plot or characters, I might have slowed down enough to consult some writing guides or gone to a conference or two. 

It wasn’t until I began the process of editing that I bothered to do any research on the craft of writing.  This isn’t to say that my first draft was worthless.  Still, I could have saved myself a lot of revision time if I had just known beforehand simple rules like using “all right” not “alright.”  That correction might just take a minute or two with a find and replace command, but there were other errors that weren’t as quick fixes.  For example, I had incorrectly used the subjunctive case repeatedly.  What’s the subjunctive case you ask?  Yeah, I didn’t know either, and that was part of the problem. 

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This is my current stack of reading.  Not only have I learned how to avoid common grammatical pitfalls, but I have gleaned a lot of wonderful advice on how to make my writing more precise, detailed, and clear.   As I make my way through all of them, I’ll be adding the helpful ones to a resources page on the blog.  For right now, if you only read one book, make it Ben Yagoda’s How to Not Write Bad.

Yagoda is a professor at the University of Delaware, and the book came out of the mistakes he observed students making over and over in his twenty years of teaching writing.  I am a notorious cheapskate when it comes to buying books.  Why do libraries exist if not for taxpayers to subsidize my book addiction?  After reading Yagoda’s book, however, I immediately bought a copy.  It’s a reference you’ll return to over and over.  He also has a helpful website.

Up Next:  Discover Your Market or How I Discovered I Wrote a Novel for a Nearly Nonexistent Market.  Oops.

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