This week I've sent the first 1,000 words for 'Dog Show Detective' into a literary competition for aspiring writers, with one of the prizes being having your novel considered for publication. I will also send it out to publishers, once I get that dreaded query letter mastered.
I've also returned to the audiobook Stein on Writing this week. There are a few gems to be found in this book on advice for would-be writers and writers perfecting their craft.
Sol Stein knew what it took to be published. As well as being a writer, he edited and published for some masters of fiction and non-fiction.
This book covers all aspects of writing. Stein warns us that description should have more than one purpose; as well as creating a setting or painting a picture, it should reveal something about the story or the narrator's state of mind.
With the trend for fiction to open with the inciting incident, or action, Stein's advice is timeless. Characters come first. An explosive opening might hook the reader in, but can leave you feeling disorientated and unmoved if you haven't gotten to know the characters involved. As Stein says, "We need to see the people in the car before we see it crash."
For me, his best advice is about getting the job of writing done. I know I feel so busy with work and kids and, and, and... that sometimes I feel too tired or stretched to get anything down. I'm pretty sure a lot of writing mums will know what I mean. Or there are the times when you are heading off to visit family, or there's a wedding to go to, or bills to pay and groceries to get. The excuses might change for your situation, but we've all got them. Stein suggests renting the movie 'My Left Foot', then see how well your excuses stand up. It comes down to the Nike slogan: 'Just Do It'.