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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What I Figured Out Before Selling

by Jill Monroe

Last week I was stumped about what to write about for my Wet Noodle Posse blog, so my friend Kristen gave me a few ideas. Actually, she gave me several. (She also promised to give me some clothes, but that's a different story.)

She suggested I write about something I figured out before I sold. Shall I just mention now that the list is veryyyyyyyyy long?

There are a lot of things that add up to the nuts and bolts of producing a book that (fingers crossed) people will enjoy reading. Dynamic opening chapters. Hooks at the end of each chapter that makes the reader keep reading long after they said they would go to bed. Layering emotion. Going deep POV. Vivid descriptions.

But, the last thing that I think sunk in is actually one of the first things I ever head about writers. Writers always write.

Note that the saying isn't Writers always rewrite. Or Writers always rework the first three chapters. Over and over again.

I have three books that will never see the light of day. They are awful. Really, really bad. Here's proof. A Political Affair was my first book, and I learned a lot from writing that book. Looking back at it, I think I learned far more from writing The End than I ever did writing Prologue. What's more, I learned even more writing The End to Book #2 and Book #3. I gained more skills with those books than I ever would have if I kept rewriting and reworking Book #1.

I see a lot of people who have worked for years on their very first idea. Believe me when I say I totally understand this. Beginning that first book is like falling in love for the first time. The dialogue, the characters, the setting - you love everything about it. And because it's your first're very loyal to that book. You want to keep making it better and better. You want THIS book to be THE ONE.

This is where the tough love interventions comes in. I had a professor in college who told her bright eyed first time author students we'd write a million words of crap before we'd ever write anything worth publishing. That first book falls into my million words of crap. So does the second. And the third.

No matter how many times I rewrote and reworked passages in Book #1, nothing I did equalled the million word milestone. I had to start a new idea. I think the book I ended up selling first, Never Naughty Enough, was my 7th.

So, for me, the thing I figured out was to write write write. Type The End, then move onto the next project.


At 11:48 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I agree, Jill. Write, write, write and write to the END. I wasted too many years writing proposals and not writing to the end. Hopefully my seventh book will be the ONE!

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Jill, I really understand about the first book! But no matter how awful it is, it is also the most important book you will ever write. Because unlkess you have written that one, you cannot write the others. And you cannot apply lessons learned until they are learned. Doing the writing is the best techer of writing.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Or, make that TEACHER of writing. Sometimes you'd never know I've written fourteen books.

Delle, who usually can't type the word verification characters right, either


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