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Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Compilation of Writing Tips & Hints



A few tips I have saved over the past couple of months – Do you have more?




Quickly write your first draft yet understand it's only a starting point and that it isn't ready for submission.

As a writer, capture your unique voice which you bring to each portion of your writing.

Write a spell-binding sample chapter and it will showcase your writing to the editor.

Pour thoughtful work and energy into a "must-read" title which draws readers (and editors).

Organize your writing to flow in an easy-to-digest manner.

Seek to maintain balance because writing is both a privilege and a business.

Read your writing aloud before sending it off to the editor and never trust your spellchecker.

When you receive critical advice or feedback about your writing, learn to evaluate it then follow your instincts.

Write with wisdom and careful thought, because in publishing, haste often makes waste.

Never resist editing, because your writing isn't etched in stone and can always be improved for the reader.

Always take the attitude of a learner in your writing and be open to new insights from any source.

Whether you write an email, a manuscript, a query letter or a book proposal, never forget the positive or negative impact of your words.

If you approach writing with a teachable attitude, you can learn from many sources.

As a book author, it's your responsibility to cast a vision for your book about the length and the appearance before you pitch the idea to a publisher.

No book or magazine article is for "everyone," so know your audience, then target them with your writing.


Every writing project competes in the marketplace. It's important to know your competition.

Pay attention to those writing 'popular' works in your genre and the subtle cultural changes that occur over the years - keep current.



An excellent book proposal is a key strategy to snag a well-connected literary agent.

Recognize that an excellent book proposal or query letter will require a lot of hard work.

Remove any hype from your query letter or book proposal. Hype will always shine through to the experienced editor.

With each submission, give the editor an easy way to respond either with an SASE or an email address; otherwise you risk no response.

Treat your editors like the coach from any sports team because the editor knows their audience and only rejects writing with a good reason--even if you never learn the specifics.

Believe in the quality of your work and the value of your message and at the same time, recognize surprises always happen in publishing.

Rarely does anyone skyrocket to the bestseller list. Most writers persevere, learn the craft of writing and expect to apprentice.

Every book author (whether fiction or nonfiction) needs to partner with their publisher to sell books. Each author must create their own marketing efforts.

Professional writers keep a log of their submissions and after an appropriate amount of time, gently ask their editor for a progress report.

Celebrate every writing success and never lose your sense of wonder about each opportunity.

Sometimes in publishing, it is who you know as much as what you write. Continue to work at relationships with editors.

As you wait for the editor's response (which often feels like forever); submit your book or magazine ideas simultaneously.

Choose a professional arena to display and advertise your work.

Beware of low-level social networks. The innate emptiness and superficiality of their clientele tends to bore even the simplest of intellects eventually. And ... those types are not generally interested in anything with depth, feeling or meaning, so your works may go virtually unnoticed.



Instead of beating a path to the mailbox looking for the editor to respond, begin other projects and get more writing into the market.

4 comments:

Megan said...

Thanks for these tidbits, Royce. It's helpful to hear/read these every few months as reminders. The best advice that I ever received is that no one is ever going to love your novel as much as you will- understand that and you will avoid a lot of heartache.

Royce A Ratterman said...

Megan, That's a great tip to keep in mind always. Thanks!

Rain Laaman said...

These are great! Thanks for posting.
When it comes to novels, my advice is write for yourself--at least initially. You may write what you think other people want, but it may be less heartfelt and you'll have a lot less joy doing it.

Royce A Ratterman said...

Yes, Rain,
I agree. If one writes only for others (the market) then much of one's inner creative originality can be set aside or diminished. Sometimes one needs to assimilate current cultural trends to update their repertoire all the while keeping in mind that trends ‘date’ one’s work.
A wise director cut the Jitterbug dance scene from the film “The Wizard of Oz” because he felt it would date the film – now the film seems timeless.