Friday, May 27, 2011

Writing Advice for Fledgling Auhors

Marilyn Meredith is taking part in the 13-writer Mystery We Write Book Tour. She's published more than thirty books, including her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, Angel Lost, and the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the Invisible Path. written as F. M. Meredith. The following is her advice for fledgling writers:

Begin by reading the kind of books that you want to write. Pay attention to how the books begin, how the characters are introduced, how the suspense rises, the dialogue and what makes you like the book.

Attend writers’ conferences and read books on writing. Many people have the mistaken idea that just because they know how to “write” that they can sit down in front of a computer and write a book without learning how. There are many rules about writing a book—yes, some can be broken, but not until you know what they are.

If possible, join a writing group. It’s helpful if the members are writing in the same genre as you, but not absolutely necessary. What you mainly need are people who know about writing and will give you constructive feedback on what you’re written. Listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to take all their advice, but think about it. Frankly, I learned the most about writing from the members of my critique group—the same one I still belong to after 30 years. Develop believable characters. Keep notes about them so they don’t suddenly change eye color or the spelling of their names. Speaking of character names be careful to pick names that don’t rhyme with the other character names, or start with the same letter, or all have the same number of syllables.

Write regularly. If you can, write every day even if it’s only for a short while. The more you write, the better you’ll write.

When you think you’ve finished your novel, it’s time to start the rewriting process. Print it out and go over each page diligently. Check that you’ve been consistent through out. Make sure the dialogue sounds natural but either moves the plot along or reveals character. Are the characters three dimensional?

Don’t rely on the spell and grammar checker. You’ll need to check on the printed page. Many common words have different spellings and meanings. And if you’ve used fragments in dialogue because that’s how a character speaks, you don’t want to make the changes suggested.

When you think you’re done, the manuscript is polished, have someone take a look at it who is a professional. You never want to send something off to a publisher or agent that isn’t as close to perfect as you can make it.

Submitting to publishers is a whole other topic, but just let me say this: follow each agent’s or publisher’s guidelines exactly. They receive so many submissions they’re looking for a reason for rejection.

Never give up. With my first book I received nearly 30 rejections before it was accepted. I did a lot of rewriting in-between those rejections. I’ve had plenty of rejections since, but I never gave up. Rejections are part of being a writer. Sometimes you can learn from the rejection.

Write, write, write.

About Angel Lost: As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro’s can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?

Marilyn's website:



Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Seems I've been jumping around a lot. Thanks for having me even if you are in a moving mode.


marja said...

Excellent advice, Marilyn, and your writing shows that you know what you're talking about. Thanks for sharing.

Anne K. Albert said...

Wonderful advice, Marilyn. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to share your expertise with us!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks, Marja and Anne for following the clues and locating me.


Sharon Ervin said...

Wonderful Blog, certainly worth waiting for.

The Stiletto Gang said...

Thanks, Sharon.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm definiely in a moving mode, both residential and blogging. Sorry for the treasure hunt, Marilyn, but you have to admit that your good post on writing advice got a lot of exposure. :)

Morgan Mandel said...

Great advice for all writers not just beginners!
Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks again, Jean, it was well worth the search. And Morgan, thanks for your comment.

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I would like to read her book. Marilyn Meredith it's an inspiration to me. Thanks for write a post about her.