W is for Writing. Writing tips what I've heard and stuff - AZ Blogging Challenge
Something of a continuation of this:
I might lose a piece of my own writing or some "research". The research could be an article, something on which I want to base a scene. It could be how someone reacts in an explosion's shockwave, an emotional reaction to being cheated on or dumped, how the poppy plant is harvested in Afghanistan, or whatever else. I mope for an hour. Then I think "Okay, I've read (or written) it once anyway." I'll write the scene, find my old writing or the article later, and I won't need to change a thing. I think we have a remarkable tendency to - even in conversation - file things away to be pulled out a week or a decade later, to be used in our lit.
Writing contest adjudicators claim that they prefer that you send an entry in early rather than at the last minute. They claim that your entry will not be penalised for not being fresh in the noggin come deadline day. But check out the format of the contest to verify if this is the case. If the competition judge is sent a shortlist of entries after a larger group of examiners has read the stories and whittled them down, you're probably not being harmed with early entry.
However, I've found that certain contests or agents tend to rank stories that I've sent the week or the day of the deadline a lot higher, than if I sent them a month or two earlier. FACT! From my experience, an entry sent a day or two before the deadline is in with a better chance than one sent two months earlier. (With the exception of one midnight delivery, where the envelope was handed in to a security guard. I never heard from them again, although I had done well on two previous non-consecutive occasions in this contest. The story was probably rubbish. GROVER CLEVELAND ATE MY GERBIL!)
Also, avoid sending submissions anywhere over a weekend if at all possible. Snail mail is comparatively irrelevant, but a publisher or agent or contest judge comes in on Monday morning and there's a bunch of To Dos in the Inbox...I just think that it's better to send stuff during the week, when people might just be a little less busy, and they might have the time to devote to your email.
JETTISON YOUR BEST LINES
The mark of a true writer is his or her ability to make edits, and to cut the best lines from his or her work in order to tell the story.
DON'T do this. What are you, a moron? Whoever came up with this notion probably has better ideas than I have, and plenty to go round in a story or narrative. People can take it to mean: "That's my novel finished... now I just need to take out these dozens of lines that I love... and we're done! Masterpiece completed!"
This self-flagellating stuff has been given far too much credence in writerly circles. And it's usually espoused by people who don't write as well as you do. Okay? If you're going to cut lines, cut the bad ones. If the plot doesn't allow for the scene where you've cut your best lines, use them elsewhere. (I GET that this is the message. But the kill-your-darlings message has gone too far.)
USE THE INTERWEB
So I'm looking at airliner and air traffic control transcripts at the moment to see how they talk over the radio. It's not gonna be taken verbatim, but I need to give the conversation I am constructing a little bit of authenticity for a sci-fi story that has little or nothing to do with present day air traffic control.
If you have a scene set in a hotel lobby, go visit a fancy hotel website. One of the first images that will fade in and out in their fancy-pants header thingamejig.jpeg GIF png on the homepage is invariably going to be a beautiful reception desk and a big goldy feckin staircase, and pseudo-peripteral columns with acanthus leaves on the top, and stuff. Write down what you see. That's your hotel description right there.
Most importantly of all: Pssst! Go write!