Sunday, August 15

Minus the Bitchassedness...

I’ve traveled an incredibly long learning curve over the past few months, and what’s helped me the most along the way has been—hands down—the bloggers I follow.  It doesn’t matter to me if they’re unpublished or have no agent yet or already have books out or deals made.  Even teachers can still be students and vice versa.

This business of getting published is pretty darn tough so to me being unpublished alone says nothing about the writing, although I love to see writers I follow get their agent or their book deal.  What counts to me most though is the step up you offer freely to your fellow writers with no signs of backstabby bitchassedness to be found (in public anyway, lol).  I’ve improved my writing incredibly because of what you guys give.

What I’ve personally improved on the most:

 Deeper POV.  I now remove the fat from my sentences to make the action more immediate.  For example:

Okay: She saw him walk through the door.
Better: He walked through the door.

Fewer tags.  I’ve combed through my WIPs to remove all dialogue tags that weren’t necessary.  If it was obvious who was talking, I removed it.  If I thought I needed a tag to identify the speaker, I looked for other ways to ID who it was without using a tag.  I also simplified as much as possible the tags I did need to keep in.  I wanted nothing to distract from the story.

Raise the stakes.  I figured out the plot was too shallow in my first WIP, so I’ve raised the stakes and built a better character arc for my MCs.  If the plot’s too simple, too easy, it leaves to much space for more fat (aka, scenes that don’t advance the plot) in the book.  PS—this takes a lot of work, whew!

 Be careful with the adjectives/adverbs. They certainly aren’t off-limits, but they do need to be used sparingly.  I railed against this at first, but then I figured it out.  If you use a lot, it could be an indication that you’re telling rather than showing, and showing is another way to make action/description more immediate.  For example:

Okay: He walked angrily through the door.
Better: He stormed in, slamming the door on his way.

Don’t navel-gaze.  This can apply to the writing, but I don’t usually have too big a problem with that.  I did learn not to navel-gaze too much when it comes to blogging.  I’m not just blogging for myself.  I like blogging as a way to interact with other writers.  So I try not to be all about my book, my book, my book.

I have to praise the uber-phenomenal Elana J., who was the first blogger I ever followed, before I ever moved to Blogspot to begin with.  She inspired me to completely change my blog, and through her, I found Bethany Wiggins, Suzette Saxton, and LiLa.  These people got me right on the good track with where I should head with my blog.  I’m still really working on it, but I’m getting there.

I haven’t even begun to talk about what I’ve learned about agents, querying, publishing, synopses, pitching, etc., but I’m out of space for now.  What's been most valuable to you?  Does a blogger's advice carry more weight if they're published or agented or does it depend on what the advice is?  How do you feel about offering writerly advice yourself?


  1. Sometimes it does depend on the advice given, but for the most part, the bloggers I follow lean towards the writing/creative side of life, so any and all advice about writing that is given, is accepted in the spirit given. Which is because....I have exactly one story published, so the writing tips I get, I put to good use.

    As for giving writing advice, the only type of advice I can give is how not to do something, simply because I've spent the past three plus years doing it incredibly (and expensively in some cases) wrong. So I don't want people to make the same mistakes I did.

    It's still a major learning process for me, but at least I'm confident enough in my abilities to take another crack at getting published the normal way.

  2. I try to look at writing from all sides, published or unpublished if the advice is good and solid then it usually range true in what i try to fiddle with. plus it never hurts to try something new. :) I give advice freely, though sparingly. I'm good for stuff in my background through schooling, but I don't want to go outright and say what should or shouldn't be done.

  3. As the Guardian says, comment is free. It's quite often fun as well and, like a blanket, actually makes you warmer for sharing.

  4. I've learned a lot about writing and the industry in general. What's really amazing is the support, though.

  5. I'm not familiar with navel-gaze. Could you elaborate?

    I too have learned a lot from bloggers. It's been hard at first for me to accept how much I have been doing wrong. Some things I may never be able to change.

  6. G: " not to do something." This totally reminds me of my first blog attempt. It was pretty awful, I think. I definitely got a 'what not to do' blog post out of that!

    Summer: Great way to approach it. It's really our personal experience that qualifies us.

    Darryl: Definitely feels good when others like what you have to say, but it also doesn't hurt that everyone seems to be so positive when they comment.

    Alex: The support makes sticking with this easier. It's nice to know the struggles aren't fought alone.

    HMG: It's hard to break age-old habits! Navel-gazing is just excessive, useless self-contemplation, when someone goes on and on over an issue but going nowhere and doing nothing about it. A little introspection is okay (we all have some inner monologue), but if it doesn't advance anything, it's like staring at your navel.

  7. Blogging has made me a better writer and the people who blog, whom I respect and love have made me grow even more by offering their time and talent to help me improve. Blogging and following others connects me in a way nothing else ever could. I lurve the blogosphere. Can't say enough good things about it.

  8. Great advice, Angela!

    PS: Your blog is incredibly lovely looking. I really must hammer out some hours and make mine more pleasing to the eye.

  9. Blogging has given me a chance to write. I once thought about being a writer/journalist but my grammar is terrible. I used to love to write short stories.

  10. I find that I learn from every blogger I read in one way or another but the ones who really hold my heart are my fellow unagented, unpublished writers.

    We're all trying so hard, and it's such a mean world out there. I think that a few words of kindness to a fellow traveler on their journey goes a very long way and makes us better people too, because it reminds us we're not in this alone.

    Great post.


  11. I don't think it matters if someone is agented or published. I think what matters the most is how long they've been writing for. The more you've been practicing you craft the better you are and the more you've learnt!

    Great post!

    Are you a writer? Then you MUST enter this CONTEST!

  12. I've learned a lot --whether the blogger is published or not. I'm still learning. I never realized how much support I would find in the blogosphere. It is incredible and I cherish all of it.
    Thanks for the post. I found you through your guest spot on Alex's blog.
    Take care.

  13. You sure mentioned some awesome people! Great interview on Alex's blog BTW.

  14. I think it depends on the advice that is given. As far as giving it out myself I’m mostly a cheer you on and these are the blunders I’ve made stage.

    I'm impressed you remember whom the first person was that you followed.

    I learned about navel gazing today!

  15. I've learned so much from my fellow bloggers too. In fact I think I've pretty much learned everything I know about writing and the pub industry from my blog buddies.

    I popped over from Alex's blog - nice to meet you! :)

  16. Enjoyed reading about your journey from the interview on Alex's blog.

    There is such a wealth of practical and topical information on these blogs. We can learn from the mistakes and the triumphs of others. The best thing is we can ask questions and we get support from our fellow bloggers.

    Tossing It Out

  17. I don't feel very comfortable offering writing advice since I'm not published yet. I do like to write about writerly topics, but I'd rather just discuss them than give advice. I enjoyed reading your post at Alex's blog.

  18. Hope you've had lots of visitors today! Your post will remain up through tomorrow. Thought your pics were all very cool!

  19. Hi, I came over from Alex's blog.

    I've learnt so much from other writers/blogging. I find there is always someone out there willing to help. It doesn't matter to me if the writer is agented or not. If the advice helps, I'll use it. lol. The writing community is a generous bunch. :)

  20. I find people's personal takes really interesting, no matter where they are in the process of getting published. If it's written as personal perspective and not as an 'authority', I'll read it if the subject matter or the way it's approached grabs me.

    I don't give 'advice' on my blog, I just say what I've experienced and learned, and how it seems form my persepctive. Others seem to find it helpful.


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