Show, not Tell

There are 3 rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

Lesson 1

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Here is our first lesson as we start writing our first novel:

When you’re writing a novel to be published, it is incredibly important to find outlets to share your novel with before letting your baby out into the big bad world. Just like you nurture own baby, you need to nurture your story, too. It needs the proper clothing, the proper subsistence, and the proper environment to grow up well. We all want our babies, and our stories, to bloom into a successful adulthood.

For writing, I think finding someone to critique your work is almost invaluable (invaluable would probably be finding a publisher and a million dollar, lucrative contract).  When you’re writing, to stop and take the time to look over all the aspects of your own story is like trying to cut your own hair. It doesn’t work. You can’t reach the back of your head and you can’t find all of your own mistakes. Once you’ve read over your story once or twice, half of it is practically committed to memory, anyway. You need someone else who doesn’t know every aspect of your story like their very own pillow. No, you need fresh eyes, because not only are potential readers going to have fresh eyes, but your potential agent or publisher will, too.

By fresh eyes, I mean someone who has absolutely no idea what you’re writing. So when they read your first chapter, they don’t already know that subtle reference you made in your third paragraph will be meaningful in chapter twenty. For someone who knows next to nothing about your story, they can tell you if it’s truly interesting, and you must have an interesting story to find an editor, an agent, or a publisher.

So, great, you have someone who can critique your story. Even better, maybe you have several people. That is jolly.

Now, find someone else’s story to critique. Why? Because helping someone improve their story will help you improve yours. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase before that teaching someone something helps you learn it, too. Taking a critical look at someone else’s work will force you to take a critical look at your own. When you comment on their lack of description, you’re going to wonder: how’s my description? When you point out an inconsistency, you’re going to wonder: do I have inconsistencies?

Giving and receiving critique is important to improving your story. Improving your story is a sure step in the right direction to getting published. Logic would say that it’s pretty imperative to start that critique group up soon.

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Written by Jessica Lei

July 23, 2010 at 4:35 am

Posted in Critiques, Lessons, Revising

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