Friday, September 30, 2011

The Writing Game - An Article by Margot Finke

The Writing Game
By Margot Finke, Rate Your Story Volunteer Judge

I have been at the writing game for many years.  For a long time I tore my hair when rejections rolled in. I loved every word, sentence and paragraph I wrote.  I tweaked, reviewed and reworked stories until I lost all perspective.  Yet my so called writing career was a flop.

I was was saved by the Internet. I joined a great online writing list and picked all the knowledgeable brains I could find.  I made notes of the good advice and suggestions that flowed through that list.  I went to writing conferences and soaked up the information that bubbled up in every group of writers I joined.  Several kind and talented writers took me under their wing and mentored me.  They set me straight.  I listened, and wrote and rewrote until my typing fingers were numb, and my butt became grafted to the chair.  Ouch-h-h-h!

Then it was time for a super critique group of like-minded writers. People that wrote the same genre, and would give me honest feedback on all my hard work.  They taught me to “rest” my manuscript between tweaks, and reread every month or so with a fresh eye. Amazingly, this kept my focus on what really mattered - a strong plot, and rich characters that would ring true to readers.

All this paid off in acceptances and contracts, rather than making myself balder, and then papering my bathroom with rejection slips in my spare time.  And I also discovered a hidden Crit Group bonus – a bunch of trusted writing friends who supported and advised each other through rejections, acceptances, and the dreaded writer’s block. 

What made the difference?  Networking with other writers - both online and at conferences, and in the safety of a critique group.  Writing tends to be an isolating career.  You need to break the isolation habit, mix, mingle, and listen to words of wisdom from those who have already found success.

Book learning only teaches you the technical side of writing.  Writers that HOOK readers on every page need to know more than where to place the commas and good grammar. Superb books, with plots and characters that linger in our memories, are written by those with a keen imagination, great observant skills, and a flair for writing a paragraph that "sings" to our senses and emotions.  They keep their focus on what is important.  These writers instinctively choose powerful and evocative words that make the plot and the characters jump off the page.  Their words allow us to visualize scenes and characters as if they WERE pictures. Artist paint pictures with paints, great writers do the same by painting instant word pictures in our minds.

 What makes a successful writer?  This has been asked many times.  Here is my stab at it: Patience, lots of rewriting, research publishers, a good critique group, plus a determination to never quit trying – no matter how many rooms you have papered with rejections!

 Oh, and don’t forget LUCK.  Having the right manuscript, with the right publisher, at the right time, is nothing to sniff about.

This article was written by Rate Your Story volunteer judge Margot Finke.

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