I have a degree in Journalism. So what. I wrote for a living, and my work was dissected by a discriminating public audience. Big deal. The pressure of compressing complicated information into a format consumable by the general public, putting my name on public statements and opinion pieces –none of that prepared me for writing a novel. If anything, it set me right up for failure.
The skills I developed and honed for years focused around brevity and forced out my natural tendency toward flowery prose. As I write my first novel I struggle with continually glossing over the details, which is ironic because I love details in the books that I read.
I think, akin to 12-step programs, admitting that I have a problem is the first step toward overcoming my issues. So, here goes, and it’s a shocker: I don’t know everything. And of what I do know, much of it is wrong for the wonderful format that is the romance novel. I feel ignorant weekly, and am probably going to be horrified when I get that first manuscript back from an editor. Case in point: I learned just this weekend that I am likely going to have to scrap my entire first chapter because, obviously, I do not know where to BEGIN my novel. DSRA member and veteran author Voirey Linger gave an insightful presentation entitled “Writing Short.” She discussed tips and techniques to help craft better stories of any length with fewer words. What I learned was invaluable, and I need many more lessons like this.
Am I going to get my dobber in the dirt because I don’t know much about writing a romance novel? Goodness no! I’m going to educate myself and form new, good habits. I’m going to continue to read books on writing, to take writing classes, and to ask questions of those with more experience and/or talent than I posses. I’m going to finish this novel. When it turns out to be crap, I’m going to write another. I will utilize all of the mind-blowing information and hard-won lessons that I have learned to write another and another, and someone is going to love them.
What do you think I should know as a first-time author? What qualities in a book speak to you?