Monday, January 17, 2011

Best Practices…for Writers

nov 22 059There’s a term that I keep tripping over—'best practices.’ I’ve seen it in literature my husband brings home from work, and my son has been studying it for a business class he’s taking. It’s also mentioned on television from time to time.

According to Wikipedia:

A best practice is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive, or reward which conventional wisdom regards as more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. when applied to a particular condition or circumstance. (Wiki)

I thought I’d put together a sort of best practices list for writers of the advice I’ve heard and read most frequently from other writers.

Writing: Set a writing goal, either daily or weekly. Don't be too critical of yourself during the first draft. Try to be flexible about the times and places that you write. Keep dialogue tags simple. Showing rather than telling is usually more effective. Make sure your book has enough conflict. Read. It helps if you've either been an avid reader or are one currently. Find what works for you (outlining or no-outlining, edit as you go or later, research now or later) and do it.

Connect with other writers who understand and appreciate what you're going through. Others close to you may or may not.

Editing and Revising:

Try putting away your manuscript for a while. Be aware of industry standards for word count for the genre you've written--and try to conform to the standards, if you plan to submit for publication. Find an honest critiquer to offer constructive criticism. But still respect your gut. Read the book aloud. Printing the book and revising on paper may help.


Research agents, focusing on those that represent what you write. Check the agents against Writer Beware and Preditors and Editors.

Research dos and don'ts of query writing (lots of advice on these agents’ blogs): Rachelle Gardner’s Rants and Ramblings, Bookends, Query Shark, Pub Rants, Babbles from Scott Eagan.

Expect rejection and persevere. Learn what you can from any feedback you receive.

After Signing Your Contract and Following the Book’s Release:

Respect your editor. Think twice before arguing over a change. Market, in some form, with as much enthusiasm as you can. Make sure your publisher is aware of your efforts. Manage your time, especially online time. Be careful of what you say online..on your blog, when commenting on others' blogs, when Tweeting, while on Facebook.

Keep writing. Write while you're submitting, write while you're waiting for your book to release. Not only does it keep you busy, but it’s great practice.

Obviously, the most important thing is to find out what works best for you, then do it. :) What works for you…what would you recommend for a ‘best practices’ list for writers?