Here are some cool things I learned from reading THE NOVEL WRITER’S TOOLKIT by Bob Mayer:
- The author of this book had approximately 80 (!) rejections for each of his first two novels. “Ninety-five percent of the time you will get a form letter thanking you for your submission and wishing you luck elsewhere.
- Keep a master list of all your characters, even fairly minor ones. This will save you from having to comb through your manuscript to remember that waiter’s name. You know, the one you thought would only appear once in the story…Ditto for names of locations, restaurants, etc.
- Keep research articles related to your story, your story’s location, etc. in one place for easy reference. A binder is especially useful. “Details drive a story and the more information you have, the more details you have.”
- The use of coincidence doesn’t work if it comes outside of the plot to change the plot. For instance, if your hero happens to overhear vital information, as opposed to the information being deliberately planted for him by another character.
- The line between showing and telling is not always clear-cut, but is more of a sliding scale. You will often need a mixture of both – you don’t always have to “show”.
- For your characters to be realistic, they have to react like the people you have developed them to be, not like you want them to react in order to move your story ahead. Every time a character acts or reacts, ask yourself if that is consistent with whom you projected the character to be.
- Think about your characters as if they are real people your readers are meeting for the first time on a blind date. Make the meeting memorable.
- Publishers tend to be willing to take more of a risk on a new unknown author than an established mediocre one. This means if sales are tepid for an author’s first book, it may be even harder for her to sell another book than it is for an unpublished writer.