Welcome back to, Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written! By Stuart White
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Stuart continues his tips on how to….Revise Your Work!
OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF
It shouldn’t need to be said, but given what I’ve seen over the years while teaching writing, it does need to be said. Maybe not to YOU, or YOU…but hey, you over there tapping in your iPhone, YOU need to pay attention.
Each time you finish writing for the day – CHECK YOUR WORK. I can’t emphasize that enough. Check it, check it again, and then check it as much as you have time and patience to do the next day. We all make mistakes, me, you, even Tolstoy and Victor Hugo did. We’re all human. So check your words and if you can, have someone else check them too.
ENGLISH, USE OF
And make sure it’s grammatically correct. When a publisher sees a sentence that says, “your the one for me..” instead of “you’re the one for me..” Or..”I could of sworn I left that watch there,” instead of “I could’ve sworn…” then you will lose a great deal of credibility as a writer.
When earlier I typed the heading, YOUR NOVEL into this post, a green line came up under it on my computer. When I checked, it suggested I write, “You’re novel.” Well maybe you ARE novel (as in new and different) but that isn’t what I intended to write. So don’t always trust computer loaded checks.
Now you may think writing is simply about the creativity, the work, the idea and your God-given talent. Up to a point, Lord Copper, to quote a line from Evelyn Waugh’s, Scoop. Which means, basically, no, you’re wrong, but I’m trying to be polite.
Publishers from my experience tend to think – and I agree – that if you’re using the English language you should be using it correctly.
It might be a work of staggering genius, but if it’s littered with spelling mistakes and bad grammar the genius might go unnoticed. Don’t risk that.
OK, there are exceptions. If you write another Harry Potter, a publisher won’t care if you can only write Swahili or text language. But Harry Potter books, ideas that hit a vein, don’t come along every day. Make your work shine for its literacy as well as its readability.
Watch dangling modifiers. This is where a sentence contains two subjects and confuses them. For example: “You know Rita, my dog Betsy has been SO ill….and to make matters worse my Mom is in the hospital having an operation. She’s so sick we may have to have her euthanized.” As that sentence reads, it is the mother about to be put to sleep. Check for those because we ALL do them.
NOW, GET IT WRITTEN
All you’ve got to do now is write the damn thing! Here’s where I effectively bow out because I can’t actually tell you how to write it, that is now down to your talent, ability, application and desire to do it. But I can suggest ways to avoid NOT writing it, the dreaded writers’ block. The headline on this posting regurgitates an old newspaper and Hollywood saying: “Don’t get it right, get it written.”
In newspapers it means you write the number of words you’re told to write and deliver them when they’re needed – usually NOW or sooner than that. As a journalist you can’t say, “I’m not in the mood. I’m blocked. I just can’t seem to write.”
You’re being paid, and usually quite handsomely in your later career, because you can write to order and whenever you’re required to do so. Fail to do that and you’ll be joining the unemployment line.
Additionally, you write to length. So an editor will say, “Give me two hundred words on that freeway crash.” And that’s what you write, two hundred words, give or take five either side. Somehow you learn to write to the length required. But then the Editor might say, “Hey, we’re short of space. I need you to cut that to 100 words.” So, you do. Or, “Hey, we’ve got some good pictures on that crash; give it another two hundred words.” That’s good training.
TRY TO GET A ROUTINE
But you’re not journalists, you want to write a book. The reason I’m citing the ‘get it written’ aphorism is because wherever possible you’ve got to train yourself to write on demand. That is, your own demand. When your heart says you’ve got to write, your head and body must follow. But unfortunately the old Nike motto of JUST DO IT seems to not just do it for many writers. But there’s a middle course, and here are some hints.
Try to have a schedule. For example, before dinner (or after) you sit down and write for an hour, or even just half an hour. You get a habit. It’s what you do. Your mind will become accustomed to it. Try that. And if you feel you just can’t write, sit down, look at the screen and say to yourself, “Writer’s write, if I want to be a writer then I must write.”
Then, write something. Anything. I mean it. Write ‘the cat sat on the mat’….’Little Bo Beep has lost her sheet’…just so that some words start to appear on that blank screen or paper. Then just think of anything to do with your novel…a scene, a snatch of dialogue, anything. Nothing is EVER wasted when you write, you can always go back and cannibalize it, strip it like an old engine and take the best bits.
TO BE CONTINUED…..COME BACK FOR MORE GREAT WRITING TIPS. Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written!
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