Until very recently I was a member of a writers’ group. This was not an online forum but a real flesh-and-blood group. We’d meet in each others’ flats, talk intensely about our work for two hours, then go down the pub and talk even more intensely.
Every writing forum has its own guidelines and standards for reviewing, and most of them include something along the lines of “be constructive.” You should look up the word "constructive," and note that it has nothing to do with being positive or encouraging. I mention this because a lot of writers seem to think otherwise, and will accuse you of not being constructive if you offer anything that isn’t outright praise.
When, a few years ago, I started writing a book, friends would ask me what it was about. I’d say it was about a lot of things - a world where no one believes in anything, conspiracy theory, drugs, the lost dreams of the Sixties and Seventies - but that wasn’t what they wanted to hear. They wanted to know what the story was. In truth I didn’t have one. I thought I could write a novel based on ideas rather than character and story.
BookShed writer Amanda Hodgkinson celebrates a backing from Oprah Winfrey for her debut novel 22 Britannia Road.
When Fig Tree head Juliet Annan bought world rights to the work from agent Rachel Calder at the Sayle Literary Agency, she spoke of a story that had echoes of A Small Island and Sophie's Choice, calling it "a powerful novel of acceptance, survival and love." Its status as a bestseller was secured when Winfrey's O Magazine called it "a riveting historical novel."
This piece is written by Book Shed writer BillJustBill.
An important technique that I think generally is most helpful in understanding what you’re doing (and need to do in any particular fictional situation) is get very deeply into the head of your characters, particularly your main character. Some people can do this and some people can’t, but I certainly think it’s something that can be learned, because I’ve learned to do it, at least more or less and to some extent. And of course I’m still learning.
Allen Guthrie, an acquisition editor for Point Blank Press, wrote up a 'white paper' three years ago called 'Hunting Down the Pleonasms' that has become a cult classic.
Guthrie gave Adventure Books of Seattle permission to reprint this document wherever they liked. It is a permanent download at their site. It is very specific. Over at the AB site, it's been downloaded hundreds of times, and every writer should consider posting this on the wall near their computer.