Without further ado, with this blog post I will now boldly step into a bold new world of boldness: the arena of Writer’s advice. I am uniquely qualified to enter this arena because I write stuff. For the past seventeen years, thirteen of which were regular calendar years, four of which were leap years, I have been toiling away three hundred and sixty-five and one-fourth days a year, working day-in day-out, never taking a day off, not even that one-fourth of a day-in and one-fourth of a day-out, with laser-precision and focus— Oh wait. The ado thing. Here’s the list.
- Finish writing your novel.
- After you finish writing your novel, open the window and shout, “MY NOVEL IS FINISHED!” Because you just never know.
- Whenever possible, interject into conversations sentences that begin with, “For instance, in the novel I just finished writing…”
- Join a writer’s group. At the first meeting, only make animal sounds. Meows can be very effective. You can even use them to correct grammar and punctuation. Also wear an interesting hat. Lots of writers have interesting hats. Then in the meetings that follow, abandon the animal voice thing and write short stories about a writer joining a writer’s group, wearing an interesting hat, making animal sounds at the first meeting, and one-by-one, killing off the writer’s group. Be accurate and descriptive about the other writer’s in the group. Use their actual names. For example, “then he stabbed that condescending jerk Ira that writes Sci-Fi, the stickler on hyphens with the goatee.”
- Whenever possible, compare writing a novel to running a marathon or climbing a mountain. Don’t, whatever you do, compare it to a running marathon on a mountain. People can spot clichés from 26.2 miles off. 26.3, not so much.
- Don’t be shy! Tell people you’ve written a novel. Especially waiters.
- Attend a Writer’s Conference. The bigger the better. Attend a symposium or the key note speaker. Double bonus if the key note speaker is giving a symposium. Stand up half-way through and shout, “This is complete Bull Shit! Let’s get outta here!” Get the contact information of everyone that follows you out.
- If the ending of your novel feels flat, consider having more characters die that go by, “darling.” It’s the old saying: kill your darlings. Pretty sure I’m using this quote correctly.
- If your novel starts with too much backstory, consider telling the backstory backwards, and make the back of the book the front, especially if your novel has backstabbing, back pain, or faceless back people. Another option is to include a lot of metaphors involving back scratches. Everyone likes a story that hits those hard to reach spots.
- Make sure your novel doesn’t begin with a dream. Unless it involves flying chickens. Those dreams always signal a page-turner.
- Make sure your manuscript is free of grammar mistakes and food-stains. Cheetos finger stains are the mark of an amateur that likes Cheetos. Doritos, maybe. But Cheetos? As the old saying goes, “the road to publication is paved with Cheetos finger stains on manuscripts from the slush pile of hell.”