Friday, February 02, 2007

Words of Wisdom...

Long before I created this blog to review screenplays, a fellow anonymous critic, “Girl on Demand,” created her own blog to review self-published books. Just as the Gods bestowed their divine powers to a young boy so that he could become the mighty Shazam, Girl’s POD-DY MOUTH gave me inspiration to become…THE UNSUNG CRITIC!

Okay. Lousy analogy. But be you a wannabe screenwriter or novellist, you owe it to yourself to check out her blog, where she shares a great deal of sage advice about not just publishing, but the craft—and process--of writing.

Check out this excerpt from a recent post:

Before you publish you need to get an objective audience to read your book. I cannot overemphasize this enough. If every POD author did this, it would reduce the number of terrible POD books and greatly improve the ones that are being self-published.

You'd think the most frustrating part of finding good books to review would be the suffering: the traversing of absolutely horrible writing. Not so. Those texts are easy to toss aside [delete]. The painful ones are the books that are almost there, the ones that not only would be great books, but would probably find their way to a commercial publisher.

So here's what I suggest you do: Join a writing group. Regardless of what you may think, your writing is not better than the other hacks there (I was part of one for years). And take a look at how many commercially published authors thank the folks in their writing groups in their acknowledgements sections. They work--if you can take criticism.

And if you can't? Man, you are in the wrong industry.

Your book, from the first time it is released (into the wild) is being critiqued. Agents, editors, book reviewers, amateur book reviews (read: Amazon), and so on.There are a lot of things you can do to improve your novel or memoir (like hiring an outside editor) but nothing does the trick (and costs nothing) like a writing group. If you hire an editor, she may tell you to change the way a character speaks or to delete a scene or whatever. But with a writing group you get to listen to other people discuss your book, where one person may want to see a change but another may totally disagree.

Or the entire group may be telling you the same thing--in which case, that thing needs to be fixed.

Having a finished manuscript on your hard drive is not enough. I know it seems exciting to imagine it could be in the marketplace in a few months (supposedly) but if you take the time to get involved in a writing group, it can make the difference between an Authorhouse logo and a William Morrow logo on the spine.

I couldn’t agree more.

When it comes to personal frustrations over reading work that almost works, Girl really hits the nail on the head. It’s something I’ve now experienced myself reading so many scripts over the past few months--where a handful have some things really, really going for them, and a potential for greatness, but fall short for some reason.

While I want to be more selective in what I finally review in the blog, I’m also trying to interact with writers more by offering a little feedback and advice through private emails. I can’t do this for everyone (I wish I could), but I’m at least trying to do it more often.

My point is this: even the best writers need a little outside guidance from time to time. Whatever your method—writing groups, writing partners, email exchanges, etc.—try to get as much feedback as you can before taking the plunge into the deep sea of agencies, producers, and talent scouts. You'll be glad you did.

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