When I decided to write a book, I thought that’s what you did, write the book. It will be perfect, and everyone will love it. Ok, I wasn’t that delusional but I did find out, the hard way, that I skipped a few basic very important steps. So what I learned during my journey through my first book is that you should:
1. Research. Learn the basics to writing, from knowing your genre to grammar and punctuation.
2. Have an outline of your story and make notes on your characters. (I spent many wasted hours going back to see details on a character that I should have written down. Duh! That was a no brainer!)
3. Know your way around a computer. (Another no brainer.) I depended on my daughter to fix my mistakes more than I care to admit. The most important thing she taught me was…save, save, save. I had to re-type so many chapters because I did not have auto save on. I would hit a wrong key and have it all disappear!
4. Have a critique group. I did not have one until I finished my first book. Once I did I sent in a few chapters and was horrified by my results. They actually pointed out my mistakes, and suggested changes, how dare them. (Just kidding.) When I finished the book it was my baby and you get defensive when someone says something negative. Well I learned to take criticism because their suggestions were going to make my story better. Then I put on my big girl panties and grew a thick skin. They weren’t there to hurt my feelings. They were there to help improve my writing skills.
5. Grammar and punctuation (I know I mentioned this) but it is soooo important, it needs to be mentioned twice. It has been a LONG time since I attended an English class, and I can tell you, I obviously did not pay close enough attention. When I started this process I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes if I just had gone back to the basics. My editing is a smoother process, and my critique partners don’t cringe when they see my pages. Ok, not as much.
My sister would tell me I was not allowed to send any chapters out until she read them first. Not that she wanted to help improve on my skills. She didn’t want to be embarrassed with a sister who had no idea what to do with a comma. Well I no longer embarrass my sister, as much, and I have learned from my mistakes, but comma’s are still as issue,
So, going back to basics is a step I took late, but I took it and I’m becoming a better writer because of it.