SURELY I DIDN’T WRITE THAT

A few weeks ago, I opened the scan of my first published historical romance. Time to format it for Kindle. This shouldn’t take long. I’d already finished another, which was actually my fourth to be published. It’s going by the name of Dream Walker now. I knew the formatting pretty well, though the cheat sheet still stays next to my keyboard.

Well, imagine my surprise when I began to edit this book and found passages that begged to be changed. What was I thinking? I couldn’t have written that phrase. Why did I keep doing that? Could it be that I’ve learned a lot about writing since Goldspun Promises came out from Topaz in 1994?
Most writers think that once they get published they don’t have anymore to learn. They can rest on their laurels, so to speak, and simply write. Wrong. I discovered tons of things to change to make the story tighter, more tense, to add more conflict and internalization. The one thing I didn’t change was the surroundings. The setting, if you will. I had researched Montana up and down, back and forth, even down to a tiny mouse the heroine plays with. I’d spent hours, days, weeks, months making sure the Montana setting was realistic.
But some of these sentences. Oh, dear, they could be so much more clear. And what are all these adjectives doing sprinkled all over the place? Well, formatting that book taught me a lesson. I’ve always said we can all learn something new every day and we never stop learning our craft, but I never realized how much I still had to learn when I sold that first book. And learn it I did.
So, why did Topaz sign me to a two-book contract, then another, before the bottom fell out of the publishing industry? Because I had stories to tell, I was professional when dealing with the editors and other people at the house, and I always met my deadlines. Even the one that occurred a scant two-months after the death of my dear mother. I met them all without a whimper. And I was easy to get along with. When they sent a box of my books to Winslow, Arizona, I didn’t yell and scream. I boxed up a load of Arkansas items, mugs, hats and Razorback stuff, and mailed it to them with a little sticker on each one that said, “Elizabeth Gregg lives in Arkansas.”
My editor called me laughing and thanking me for all the cool Arkansas stuff.
So here’s a lesson to be learned. Not that you can write junk and get published if you follow all the rules, but that you can write one heck of a story that may lack some of the finesse of the experienced writer, and still get it published.
Today, though, there’s one huge change. We as writers should be dealing with small presses. That’s where our future lies. Along with E Books, of course. But I don’t recommend that someone who is really new to writing self-publish a book that just might ruin their reputation because it’s badly edited or poorly written. Before you upload that book for yourself, you’d better be sure you know your craft and your story telling.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in craft of writing, Did I write that?, small publishers, story telling, Velda Brotherton, writing a good story. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to SURELY I DIDN’T WRITE THAT

  1. Great advice from a Great Lady and Excellent Writer! Thanks Velda

  2. Jack LaBloom says:

    Velda, I don't know what I would do without your insight and advice on writing. Thanks for all your helpful information and taking the time to share it with us.

  3. Good to hear from my readers. Thanks for coming by.

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