Never Stop Learning the Craft

David Viscott: “In the end, the only people who fail are those who do not try.”

I always urge students to be in charge of their own learning. “Seek answers to your own questions and continue to have growth every day – even if you’re in a class you detest.”

I’ve taught creative writing to kids, written more papers that I could count, and continue my quest to improve. Last Monday I signed up for a 90 minute live talk called The Basics of How to Get Your Book Published by Jane Friedman. Jane has more than 15 years in the publishing business and she knows her stuff. She has an extensive list of links at http://janefriedman.com/writing-advice-archive/ connecting to her advice in writing and publishing. It may take me a few months to get through it all.

As for the online session, I had previously heard about 85% of what she shared. I did find these interesting tidbits:

  1. Have a completed and polished manuscript before you think about publishing.
  2. Publishing is driven by profit, not art.
  3. It’s not a good idea to talk online about your submission process.
  4. 150 – 200 word hook or “pitch” is enough.
  5. Family and friends are great for encouragement but don’t rely on them to tell you your work is ready.
  6. Religious/Inspirational books are the number two genre in the U.S.
  7. More adults read YA than those that really are YA.

And my favorite… Common Problems with First Pages:

  • Too much interior monologue, reflection; or too much back-story.
  • Beginning with a flashback, waking up sequence, or a funeral.
  • The day is too ordinary
  • Dialogue without context
  • Info and character dumps
  • Lots of action but not grounded in a character

Next month I take a bigger learning chunk with my three-day attendance at Big Sur in the Rockies hosted by SCBWI. I will have an opportunity to share two of my manuscripts and hook lines with published authors and agents. It’s unique in that you get initial feedback, then you go off and rewrite, and finally resubmit. It should be a very beneficial and I’ll share my notes taken during the several large group presentations from industry professionals.

 Maya Angelou:Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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3 Responses to Never Stop Learning the Craft

  1. Some great quotes here. I had no idea that religious/inspirational was the second biggest category in books. Wonderful tips here. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. it’s so funny b/c I’m learning this about first pages too…I always thought any dialogue too early was bad, but I guess it’s all about balance…I love that there’s always more to learn!

  3. Andrea says:

    I watched the replay of this — thanks for the summary! Even though I’d heard some of it before, her presentation was full of good reminders. I thought it was interesting what she said about self-publishing, and how there’s less stigma about it lately — it doesn’t necessarily kill your chances of a traditional deal later.

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