Writer's Digest that I wanted to share. It discusses what every writer should do prior to grabbing our boards & riding the submission wave.
Revision is your buddy - I have heard & read differing methods on this very topic. Some revise as they go; others write with the hounds at their backside until the 1st draft is complete then go back & revise from the beginning. My own personal approach is a combination of the two. I am a backspace fanatic when something rolls off the tip of my brain sideways. But, I also engage in 'was killing festivals' & other flaw feasts after the initial spewing.
Drop it like it's hot - Bad metaphor, I know, but it made me smile so I went with it. Plunk the reader right jab in the center of the action on page 1. Readers want a reason to continue down the bricks we've laid. They need to want to resolve the conflicts; they need to care about the answers. Raise questions & promise answers.
Show it, don't blow it - Here's one of the posits that has proponents on both sides of the ladder. Back story is the past; conflict is the present; resolution is the future. I have read several agent blogs recently that say, "No back story for the first fifty to one-hundred pages of the ms." My current WIP does not have a single mention of the MCs past until page 52; however, there are hints based on her actions/reactions sprinkled throughout those 1st fifty.
Ante up! - Questions & answers. Readers should ask why is this this, why are they doing this, how did they wind up here. This goes back to point 2. Readers need a reason to continue flipping paper. They need an investment in the characters, the situation & the outcome. The reader has to be all in.
Flowers, candies, teddy bears; oh my! - We hear it often; "Trust the reader, trust the reader." Yes, there are things that need to be explained. No, exposition isn't the best choice - always. I qualify this because sometimes there is no other way. But, too much is too much. Action, reaction, dialogue & description - these are the methods by which exposition can be minimized.
Plot & emotion sittin' in a tree - Internal & external conflicts work in tandem to define character evolution or devolution. The marriage of the two works to push the moral development, conflict resolution & ultimate consequences. Remember those 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books. The reader chose the outcome based on the choices they made. Page 10 - help the old lady cross the street. Page 118 - old lady run over by speeding car. However, combine the two; push the woman out of the path of the speeding car. The internal-external dichotomy. The choice to push or not to push can be integral to character & plot development.
Red fish, blue fish - Reading your story aloud requires two things; your ears & a big glass of water. Listen to the musicality; the flow. When your tongue trips, your brain trips & you are removed from the story. The same thing happens to readers. If a passage requires a thrice over there's a problem. The music should be seamless.
"Holy brown destructively defiant cows, Batman," Robin said. - Adjectives, adverbs & a game of tag. Can't strip 'em all, but ya can control 'em. Trust yourself & your reader. Description is important but the overuse of these three amigos bogs the writing & hampers the prospects.
Beelzebub is in the background - I have long held that kids would get more out of history if the texts were written like fiction. The regurgitation of facts is simply that; no fun, no excitement. But, as writers, it is our job to know the historical details. A woman in the 15th century does not enjoy indoor plumbing anymore than a woman in the 21st has a handmaid. Know, understand & seamlessly weave the details into the story.
Manuscripts need first aid to move from slush to gush.