Writing my first book was a huge roller-coaster. I made every mistake under the sun (or possibly the universe) that would make anyone good writer cringe. I’m not going to sugar coat it because it was tough.
Here are some of the writing crimes I committed and hopefully won't make again.
I had the wrong point of view
I discovered my main characters were jumping from first to third person. It took me my third edit to figure this one out. It’s funny though, none of my beta readers picked up on it and it wasn’t until I sat down one day with a clear head did I realise.
My first tip: Pick a point of view for your characters and stick with it.
I wrote my book in the wrong tense and continually moved from past, present to the future within the chapters. It was confusing, not only to me but to my beta readers.
My second tip: Understand what tense you are trying to achieve and check over your work regularly, ensuring you don’t accidentally jump around. It's easy to do!
Using friends as characters
When I first began writing Jackson, I wrote about myself and a bunch of friends. They knew they were in my book – I had been telling them for years. I even told them I was going to keep their names – big mistake!
Try writing about someone's flaws without offending anyone, or cutting their character entirely during the drafting process – it sucks. Compromising your work to try and please someone else is not enjoyable. Don’t do it.
My third tip: If you decide to base a character on a friend don’t tell them. Change their name and any obvious details linking them, so when they read your work they won't suspect a thing. ;-)
I wanted my stories to captivate the minds of my readers and by achieving this, I decided to describe every little thing that was going on – basically, I was information dumping. I would throw in a description anywhere I could, mind-blowing the reader with so much information I’m amazed their heads didn’t launch off. Mind you, to an avid reader this may be ok, but to the casual reader, it was just too much information all at once.
My fourth tip: Slow down your information and spread it out. Add only information that will move your story forward and let the reader imagine the world through their own eyes, they will connect more to your work this way.
Writing a large book
When I first began writing Jackson, I didn’t have an clear ending in mind, so I guess I just kept writing – 95k words of writing! What this meant is I had a lot to edit. I should have started small and although I’m grateful for what I have learned, I know this could have been achieved a lot quicker with a smaller manuscript.
So, my last tip: Start with something small for your first book. Whether it’s a kids book or a short story – it doesn’t matter. In the end, you want something achievable that you will finish. It can be very daunting going through thousands of words multiple times – trust me!
With all this said, have fun and enjoy the process – it's worth it in the end =)