Today BookZone welcomes Paula Boyd, participating author in the Orangeberry Summer Splash Book Tour featuring: 100 Authors, 106 books and 500 Blog Stops in 31 days! As part of this tour Paula is promoting her humorous Mystery novel, Hot Enough to Kill. Read on for more information about the book and a few pearls of wisdom from Paula about mistakes new writers should avoid:
Rookie Writer Mistakes
by Paula Boyd, author of Hot Enough to Kill, the 1st Jolene Jackson Mystery
Writing is fun! At least it should be. That’s the biggest mistake I see beginning writers make–they aren’t having fun. They’re struggling to be great writers, worrying over every sentence–and rewriting the first chapter 43 times–instead of focusing on being a great storyteller. When your goal is to make perfect sentences and follow “the rules,” what you wind up with are boring, sterile stories.
When I teach writing workshops, beginning writers–particularly teachers and those with academic backgrounds–can have a difficult time letting go of analyzing and editing as they write. There’s a time and place for that left-brain work, of course, but it isn’t when you’re writing and creating–that’s a right brain thing.
When you’re telling a story, you have to be free to let your imagination loose on the page and not worry about whether the words are technically correct or not. If you don’t shut that editor down, it will think the life right out of you and your story–and you’ll spend all day rewriting a single paragraph or sentence. Ask me how I know.
One of my favorite workshops to do is Hook, Line and Zinger. I spend four hours with writers, helping them develop that critical opening setup–the first 300 words of the novel. Now, that may seem like a long time to work on such few words, but it isn’t. In fact, the first thing they have to do is a write an opening for a pretend novel. It’s a fun exercise and helps them get out of their own way.
Openings are great because you can cover so many bases. Along with overanalyzing, beginning writers have a tendency to over-explain. They think they must carefully set the scene in the first paragraph so the reader will know what’s going on. Well, you certainly don’t want your reader confused, but you don’t have to describe every detail either. Here is the opening line to the very first novel I ever wrote: Still holding the warm gun, Maddie lifted her skirt and ran for the buggy.
It may not be great literature, but it’s definitely an example of getting right into the story. Those 14 little words give your mind enough to instantly create a whole scene–and to raise questions to keep you reading.
Yes, I could have backed up on the timeline and given you details so you knew who, what where and why, but were they really necessary for you to get sucked into the story? Nope. Besides, those back-story details can easily be inserted in fun ways as you go along.
So, forget about being a great writer and be a great storyteller. Forget about dazzling your reader with the technical perfection of your sentences. Grab your reader from the first line and don’t let go. Keep her turning pages, wanting to know more. Make her forget that she’s reading a story and make her feel in it.
If you want your reader to have fun reading it, have fun writing it!
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Paula Boyd is a five-time award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. The first Jolene Jackson Mystery, Hot Enough to Kill, is included in the University of Texas Press’ Lone Star Sleuths: An Anthology of Texas Crime Fiction. Dead Man Falls, won the 2001 WILLA Literary Award for Best Original Paperback. Turkey Ranch Road Rage continues the adventures.
Paula Boyd and the Jolene Jackson Mystery Books have been featured in publications such as Redbook, Mountain Living, San Antonio Woman, Romantic Times and Colorado Homes and Living and many others. Writing as Paula Renaye, her new book, Living the Life You Love: The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation is available in neighborhood and online bookstores. For excerpts and reviews of Hot Enough to Kill and the other Jolene Jackson Mysteries, visit: http://paulaboyd.com . Available in paperback and on Kindle.