How to Avoid the Top Ten Fatal Flaws in Fiction
By Kathleen Y’Barbo
It is not yet 2019, but it won’t be long until we’re several weeks—or months into the new year, the time when New Year’s resolutions begin to lose their shine and some of us begin to wonder if we should have resolved NOT to make any resolutions. But what if your resolution was to finish a book? Keep that one, please! ACFW has so many great options for helping you along.
But what if your resolution is to take your finished novel and finally dip your toe into the waters of seeking publication? Good for you!! Perhaps you ore going indie or already have an editor or agent interested, but want to be sure you’ve done all you can to polish that book before you send it out. Even better!
Before you release your book into the wild, you will want to be absolutely certain your manuscript sparkles. You know what you need to do. Now let’s look at a few don’ts. My top 10 don’ts to be specific:
- Don’t forget Whose story it is. Pray before you begin and give it all to Him from the plotting to the craft to the time it takes to achieve your writing goals. Do the hard work of writing before you start contemplating selling. If you’re called to write, let Him see to the rest. Not to write could be disobedience.
- Don’t lecture. This is a novel, not a textbook or a sermon. Know what you want the reader to take away from the story and weave it in gently.
- Don’t warm up your engines or describe sunsets. Start with the action. Hook the editor or you’ll never get the chance to hook the reader.
- Don’t fail to make the viewpoint clear. Learn POV and do not head hop. Think of looking through a camera lens. You can see what it sees and hear what the microphone hears but you cannot do more than that. Your POV character can guess what someone thinks but cannot know it.
- Don’t tell, show. Your reader wants to see the action, not hear about it after the fact. Stay in the moment as much as possible or you’ll stall the action, especially in the first chapter.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘said’. Leave the barking for the pets. ‘Nuff said.
- Don’t assume. Look it up! Be sure of your sources and mindful of the Rule of 3s: If three sources agree, use the fact.
- Don’t stop too soon. Learn self-editing. Give the editor/agent your best work, and give the reader a good satisfying ending.
- Don’t ignore professional advice. Have a teachable spirit. Learn to whom you should listen. Learning that your skills as a writer can ALWAYS be improved is possibly the most important thing you can learn. Oh, but there is always more to learn. I’m very near to having 100 books published traditionally and I am still learning, still buying craft books, and still looking to improve.
- Don’t give up! In the words of the hymnist, “Failure Isn’t Final.” Rejection is just redirection. Even if you wander 40 years, rest assured you won’t be wandering alone and God will drop just enough manna for each day’s needs. Want an example? My most memorable failure, a book-of-my-heart that I took a year to research write—and if you know me that is a LONG time because I can write a full-length novel in a week—was rejected by every publisher back in the early 2000s (no possibility of indie then). Fast forward to 2018 when the book, The Pirate Bride, made the bestseller list. Not only that but the sequel, The Alamo Bride, releases in 2019 and other books with descendants of those characters are in the works.
So make your resolutions, but above all finish that book!! And Happy 2019, Y’all!Make your resolutions, but above all finish that book!! And Happy 2019, Y’all! @KathleenYBarbo #ACFWBlogs #newyeargoals #amwriting Click To Tweet
Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo, is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee with over million copies of her ninety plus books in print. A tenth-generation Texan and paralegal, her awards include Book of the Year and Readers Choice Award nominations from Romantic Times Magazine. Find out more at www.kathleenybarbo.com.