I have persuaded a new guest blogger to write for me today. Her name is Tina Foster. She will be known by many from Shelfari, and Goodreads where she has her own group. The advice she gives new and experienced readers is invaluable and, I'm lucky to have her on my blog.
Here's what I asked her:
1. In all your experience as a literary agent have you seen one elementary mistake which is common to the work of new, which is to say unpublished, writers?
1. One elementary mistake that is common to new writers: Amateurish writing. So, take the time to develop your writing skills and hone and polish your work.
2. Should a writer edit each chapter as they write, or is it better to finish the first draft before tackling any editing?
2. Keep writing until you get the first draft finished. The whole thing may change as you add chapters, flesh out scenes, add character development, tighten down wordy sections, etc. Then do an initial edit to look for plot problems. Plan on going through many drafts. Seldom is a book perfect in just a couple of drafts or edits.
3.Some creative writing teachers (mine included) teach that any grammatical rule may be broken provided the writer is making a valid point. Are publishers as broad minded as this or should the writer stick to conventional grammar and punctuation?
3. Stick to the rules in the narration. The exceptions are if you're using bad grammar as part of the dialogue or character's thoughts.
4. Many writers are worried about copyright infringement. Is this a real problem?
4. Don't be concerned about copyright. There's been maybe one case in the last 20 years and it involved where a popular writer copied whole sections word for word of a Nora Roberts novel.
5. If you were asked to suggest just one rule that a new writer should remember every time they wrote, what would it be?
5. SHOW, don't tell.
6. You are probably aware of The Thirty Six Dramatic Situations by Georges Polti which lists every possible scenario for any story or novel. Do you think that all writers’ imagination can be constrained by this exhaustive, if a little dry, list?
6. Although most plot situations are pretty basic, there is still a lot of room for imagination.
6. As we all know, teach-yourself and reference books are very expensive. Could you suggest one that covers enough of all the basics for a new writer?
7. You can't go wrong with Stephen King on Writing. But Donald Maass has a good one as well, "Writing the breakout novel." Or, I have a small booklet: "A Hand Book For Writers" that can be ordered on my website at: www.FosterLiteraryAgency.com.
I should like to thank Tina for giving me her time. Here is the address of are the group she runs at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/47036.Help_For_Writers