Random Inspirations

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“Novel” Reflections: Lessons Learned After Completing a Manuscript

on February 7, 2013

At last! I have finished the first draft of my latest YA manuscript! It’s been quite a journey, and now, of course, comes the fun part: editing. I’m sure my writing will evolve even more in the months to come, but here are some reflections on finishing my second YA manuscript. Think of it as a “lessons learned” post.

Super-Useful Writing Lessons:
1. Read up. Not only did I read Writer’s Digest and tons of contemporary YA fiction, I also read what I now refer to as the holy grail of writing: Hooked, by Les Edgerton. This is a book entirely based on opening scenes, and it’s both entertaining and informative. Editors, agents, and ultimately readers will decide whether a book is worth their time during the opening chapters. Thanks to Nancy Butts, my instructor and an incredible MG author, for turning me on to this book. It’s been an invaluable resource as I’ve crafted my second manuscript. Which brings me to my next lesson…

2. Take a class. I thought I knew everything about writing because I’ve been doing it ever since I could hold a pencil, but…surprise…I hadn’t even scratched the surface! I have taken two online courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature, and they’ve helped me to hone my writing style, draft query letters, polish up my short stories, research the writer’s market, and, ultimately, complete the first draft of my YA novel manuscript.

3. Do webinars. Writer’s Digest offers them every Thursday. If I’m not available when the webinars go “live,” I can purchase them to peruse at my convenience. I’ve “attended” webinars about query letters, pitchcraft, and how to draft a killer YA novel. These webinars feature agents and editors, so they not only provided me with a wealth of information, they also introduced me to agents in my genre…agents I may be querying later.

4. Attend conferences. The Writer’s Digest West conference I attended was pivotal; I made several key contacts in the industry, picked up writing pointers from well-known authors, and learned about self-publishing, marketing, and building a platform. Which brings me to my last lesson…

5. Social media is important. I’m not a social media guru, but I like to think of myself as fairly proficient. Twitter and Word Press have allowed me to connect with my target audience and fellow writers, and I’m constantly reading the blogs of other authors and agents. One of my favorite blogs is Mary Kole’s kidlit.com. It’s chock full of helpful hints…directly from an agent!

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