So, you’ve written a novel.
What an accomplishment!
Now what? What’s next?
Rushing out “there,” novel in hand, visions of sugar plums and castles in the air make your feet float across the ground. Then it happens…
Think of writing a novel, short story, or other form of writing intended for an audience, (Diaries don’t require such intensity) as turning on an old transistor radio.
First, the premise is the radio wave blasting through the air unseen, unheard, and unnoticed; nonetheless, it is there, everywhere. When an idea for a novel first hits our thoughts, it seems our minds will explode if we don’t write the next best seller. However, if we tell someone about it before we write it, the air fills with too many “other” broadcasts. No one else can hear our radio signals quite as we do.
Second, the first writing is finished. It is the best ever written, a real classic. Turning the knobs of the old radio to find that perfect signal, we listen to our favorite tunes ignoring the static around the edges. (younger people today may not appreciate this analogy) While ignoring the static, we get lost in the words of our ingenious creations and cannot comprehend why others don’t hear them as well as we do. However, we can’t give up now; if we adjust the knob on that old radio a little more, it will be perfect. This is the realization of the need for a re-write.
Third, sometimes we fiddle with the knob too much and loose the signal. No problem. The radio is still on; we can find another station, maybe come back to the old station later. Turning that knob to refine the station is much like our efforts of re-writing, editing, and begging for input on our writing. Some advice causes us to turn the knob too far in one direction while other advice clouds our editing into thinking we have the next best seller already. No matter what, we can’t seem to turn the radio off once we turn it on.
Fourth, calming that inner hunger with reality, we focus on the fine-tuning with determination to remove all the static by reverting to grammar school basics. Reviewing basic writing rules, the do’s and the don’t’s of grade school through MFA degrees, is where we discover the way to remove most of the static. Where to place that comma (if at all), word choice, capitalization, passive voice, tense, and all the tiny details surrounding our wonderful creation becomes static until the station we are listening to becomes a full-blown job.
Fifth and final, one more adjustment. Just one more…until we have fine-tuned that old radio until there isn’t anymore static only to discover…HD Radio.
Good luck in all your endeavors in getting published – either traditional or self-publishing.
NOTE: The world has been buzzing lately about traditional publishing verses self-publishing. Blogs, Twitter, and news articles banter about which avenue is best. Peeling away all reasons discussed, boil the cabbage down (as the old saying goes), and one aspect rarely talked about emerges…perfecting the craft. Self-publishing on your first book removes the hoops, those fiery hoops required to jump through in traditional publishing, and gives a smooth, well-paved highway for putting your novel in print regardless of its imperfections. Without critique and editors, without hearing the static of imperfection, how can we grow? How can we perfect our talents if we don’t realize they are not perfect? For those who have beaten through the wilderness, carved the highways (built solid platforms) for fans to easily find them and love them, self-publishing is a good way to go for they have already fine-tuned the old radio. Seeking traditional publishing helps us improve our writing regardless of our base knowledge of the craft.