This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
I’ve written, edited and critiqued hundreds of thousands of words first as a journalist, then as community newspaper editor and now as an author and paid facilitator of creative writing circles.
Most recently I’ve taken on writing and videoing book reviews of the work of new, self-published authors.
I’ve written a lot of book reviews, but in this category – new, self-published authors, I’ve so far done sixteen. The average star rating is 2.8, a bit better than I didn’t like it, but not quite as good as I like it.
A couple of these authors were brilliant, but most, though they have potential, are hampered by lack of craft. If they continue writing and reading I know they’ll improve. Writing is like most things – the more you do it the better you get.
New authors most often make the same mistakes, both in story structure and in writing and this has been the case with the majority of ones I’ve reviewed.
I seldom give writing advice, I mean who needs more, but if you’re a new author or an aspiring one here are some simple tips that will get your story off to a good start and some suggestions about how to improve the writing of it.
This is not to say I don’t still make these mistakes. They’re easy to see in other people’s work, but more difficult in your own - isn't that always the case.
Before you write a single word ask yourself:
- what does your main character want?
- why do they want it?
- what is stopping them from getting it?
Now you can begin writing – by answering these three questions.
These are the basis of every story – Goal, Motivation and Conflict. If you establish these elements right at the beginning, and keep referring to them as you write your novel, your characters and the plot will stay focused.
Remember, the reader wants to know what this story is about so present this information in your first paragraph or at least get it in the first chapter.
Write as simple as you can, which is actually very difficult. Above everything else tell the story as story always trumps writing. I’d suggest you tell it straightforward in simple chronological order. If you want an example of simple, straightforward storytelling read The Lowlands by Jhumpra Lahiri. It’s powerfully simple and unfolds naturally in chronological order. It got short listed for the Man Booker Prize and won her several other accolades.
Here are six things that will label your writing as amateur and should be avoided:
So you’ve adhered to these suggestions and you’ve finished your book. Congratulations. Now it’s time to get it out there, right?
Most of the novels I’m giving two stars to have been rushed into publication. I know you’re excited, but remember – it’s never as good as you think it is, and it can always be better. Yes, always.
Here’s what I do:
- I revise a manuscript a minimum three times or until I feel it’s finished.
- Then I put it away for at least three months or however long it takes to get it out of my system.
- While I’m waiting to be purged, I work on something completely different.
- Once I’ve put some distance between my ego and the book, I’m ready. I take out the manuscript and send it to as many beta readers for comment as I can. If you don’t have a stable of readers who are free from conflict of interest, join a writing group online or otherwise and workshop the novel.
- Once you’ve decided it’s time for the final rewrite gather all the comments and criticisms together and once again apply my six suggestions.
If you follow this method I guarantee your final version will be different and better than it was when you deemed it complete.
Keep writing and remember what Nietcszhe said:
The doer alone learneth
Video book reviews of self-published authors now at
Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ
My new novels, FOREST – Love, Loss, Legend and The BIG PICTURE – A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic are available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU and as e-books at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin
Read Reviews https://readersfavorite.com:book-review:39014
Visit my publisher’s website for excerpts from, and buy links to my Eco-Fi series ECO-WARRIORS, that includes Spirit Bear, Eagleridge Bluffs, and Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients http://www.devinedestinies.com/?route=product%2Fauthor&author_id=92
More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin
View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/
Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music