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New Authors

red61544

Many new authors (and some not so new) post a blog entry immediately after their first post. In it they apologize for the numerous errors in the posting and declare that they have now submitted it to an editor and it will re-posted as soon as they get it back. Sadly, for most, it's too late to regain the readership they've lost with their first post. I, for one, don't keep trying if the first impression an author makes is a poor one. I'm sure many readers respond in the same way. New writers - get an editor before you submit anything to SOL. I know you think you don't need one, but get one nonetheless. In the long run, you will post better stories and have a greater number of readers.

Ross at Play

@red61544

In it they apologize for the numerous errors in the posting

I'm inclined to agree: it's not a good look.
Writing anything good, as opposed to readable, is damn tough work. Realistically, everyone's first efforts will be some shade of awful. That's okay, but I do feel discouraged when I see a new author prepared to post something they know is less than the best they can manage now. To me, that suggests an attitude that is likely to prevent them ever achieving their full potential.
OTOH, perfectionists like me can fall into the trap of never completing enough to their satisfaction to achieve their full potential, either. :(

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

... I do feel discouraged when I see a new author prepared to post something they know is less than the best they can manage now. To me, that suggests an attitude that is likely to prevent them ever achieving their full potential.
OTOH, perfectionists like me can fall into the trap of never completing enough to their satisfaction to achieve their full potential, either. :(

Whenever I read something I wrote, I change it or at least want to change it. It doesn't matter how many times I already changed it, not even that my very good editor and proofreader reviewed what I wrote. Nothing I write will ever be perfect. I guess that makes me a perfectionist as well.

For me, the most important reason to submit something less than perfect is the pressure to know that there are people waiting to read what I wrote. Those people don't care whether I think it's perfect. They enjoy what I write and that's good enough for them and at some point it needs to be good enough for me as well.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

Nothing I write will ever be perfect.

I understand and agree with what your saying.
Perhaps I was not clear in my meaning. I said "the best they can manage now". I think that's different to "the best they could possibly do now".
So yes, there comes a time when you're tinkering around the edges, and that's when you're better off posting and moving on to something new.
My concern was with posting something when you know there's a lot of significant improvements you could still make. My fear is authors will never reach their potential if they have the attitude that is good enough.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

Perhaps I was not clear in my meaning.

My comment wasn't meant to oppose your statement. You wrote you worry that you'll never complete (i.e. publish) a story and named your perfectionism as the reason. I offered a reason to publish anyway, although I'm a fellow perfectionist as well.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

Whenever I read something I wrote, I change it or at least want to change it.


I'm always spotting ways to make one sentence or another flow a little smoother, which is why I have to make a concerted effort to not constantly revise my stories. If I make a style change, then I'llr ead them at the computer and revise as I go, if reading my stories for pleasure I read them on the tablet - harder to make changes there in the epub I read on the tablet.

Replies:   robberhands
Ernest Bywater

I wrote a story, give it to editor A, rewrite after looking at his note, give to editor B rewrite after looking at his notes, give to Editor C, rewrite give to editor D, , rewrite and give to proof reader, then publish. Wait a few months for readers to spot and report errors, revise back to proof reader, then republish. Takes a bit of work, but provides a much better quality story.

robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

... if reading my stories for pleasure I read them on the tablet - harder to make changes there in the epub I read on the tablet.

Heh, I tried that too sometimes and it works ... until I can't take it anymore and return to my comp to re-write the shit I wrote.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@robberhands

You wrote you worry that you'll never complete (i.e. publish) a story and named your perfectionism as the reason. I offered a reason to publish anyway

Got it. Thanks.
Truth is, if I had liked the ideas for my past stories more I would happily have posted short of perfection. I have my fingers crossed with my WIP. :-)

awnlee jawking

@red61544

Having recently read a story that had several editors credited yet was beset by typos and continuity errors, I proofread some of SOL's Volunteer Editor entries.

For a novice writer to find a competent, sympathetic editor is quite a formidable task.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Argon
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

Having recently read a story that had several editors credited yet was beset by typos and continuity errors,


Ayep, it can happen. Most of what my proof reader points out are where I've changed something due to an editorial comment but the cut and paste didn't go right or some similar issue has introduced an error. There are many ways an author can mess things up after the editors have finished, including posting the original draft and not the finished story - seen that happen a time or two.

Argon

@awnlee jawking

I proofread some of SOL's Volunteer Editor entries.


LOL
I always followed two routes: either I asked the editors of my favourite writers or I asked one of the readers who had repeatedly and competently pointed out errors to me.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
REP

@red61544

I agree with you. First impressions are important, especially for a new author. A story description is where authors tell readers why they should read the story and it also provides a small example of the author's writing abilities. Earlier this month, I saw the following story description:

this is story of how I became legend. how I became Merlin. also the origins of the word queen in the cross-dressing sense, but ignore that bit, i never actually wore women's clothes P.S. First story, be kind. also this is not fully edited, i will edit the story after i have finished book 1.


The content, sentence structure, and grammatical errors in the description turned me off the author. If the story is anything like the first two sentences, I would not care to read it. The 'queen' comment seems very weird – why add a remark that has no apparent relationship to the story (i.e., it had no cross dressing or other fetish code). Does this indicate the author will throw in extraneous content with no tie-in to the plot? The P.S. remark is telling me that the author doesn't want to do the work that should be done before posting the story's chapters. Overall, the description tells me to - avoid this author like the plague.

The Outsider

@red61544

I was very lucky that my editor emailed advice early on; he kept the story from being a festering pile of horse apples. The one piece of advice I can offer is to be humble. Know your weaknesses.

Graybyrd let me set the story's direction while helping me learn to write. Hints on how to frame scenes, reduce unnecessary words, and even recommending helpful reference material on writing itself.

There are going to be mistakes, sure; I reread my first story now and want to rewrite it. For me, I finally reached the point where he barely had to touch a chapter in editing, rather than it being a mass of red ink. Then he suggested a new writer's guide and our standard of "good" changed.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to produce the best story you can. I've learned to keep any reservations I have out of the writing or blog.

awnlee jawking

@Argon

I asked the editors of my favourite writers


That's excellent advice. If a novice writer can identify other writers who produce similar stories and those stories are a pleasure to read, it's a strong recommendation for the editors.

AJ

Ross at Play

@REP

Overall, the description tells me to - avoid this author like the plague.

Nah! The plague has a cure. :-)

awnlee jawking

@REP

FWIW I'm following this story and it's not too bad. I'll be interested to see where it goes.

AJ

Jim S

@red61544

Someone ought to post the three most important rules for new authors:

1. Get a good editor/proofreader,

2. Get a good editor/proofreader, and finally,

3. Get a good editor/proofreader

It makes unnecessary those heartfelt apologies. Or maybe these authors feel thats a good way to get their name in front of the readers. Not realizing that, as you so aptly point out, it doesn't work that way if that be their intent.

Dominions Son

@Jim S

Someone ought to post the three most important rules for new authors:


Worthless unless you know a reliable way to find a "good" editor/proofreader who will work for free.

docholladay

Instead of placing the notice of being a beginning writer in the blog. How about placing a little note at the start of a story whether its a short or a multi-chapter story. Saying constructive feedback (or whatever you want to call it) is both welcome and desired.

Then hopefully any feedback will encourage or advise on what to do differently.

red61544

@Jim S

1. Get a good editor/proofreader

I'd add, if possible, get a good proofreader and a good editor. Let the proofreader go through it first to, at the very least, make it readable for the editor. Then let the editor have it to check continuity issues, clarity, and facts. Don't make promises you can't keep - your editor and proofreader determine when the story will be posted, not you. Finally, if you send your story to four or five possible editors and don't hear back from them, consider the possibility that you should find a different avocation, like fishing. Everyone with an idea isn't a writer!

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@red61544

Let the proofreader go through it first to, at the very least, make it readable for the editor. Then let the editor have it to check continuity issues, clarity, and facts.

That's the wrong line up. The editor should get the story before the proofreaders - basic changes before final smoothing.

Replies:   Ross at Play
richardshagrin

Everyone with an idea isn't a writer!

No, you have to sit in front of a keyboard long enough to add enough words to send to the editor.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

That's the wrong line up. The editor should get the story before the proofreaders - basic changes before final smoothing.

I suggest - for first drafts by first-time authors - the ideal line-up is:
* proofreader first, just to minimise the mess
* editor next for a detailed examination
* proofreader last to find any outstanding bugs

An editor has more specialist skills. If you want them to keep on working for you, for free, it's best to do what you can so they aren't burdened by problems that others could easily detect.

The initial proofread may be dispensed of once an author knows the basics.

It's always best to have a fresh set of eyes take one last look before posting. My experience is that many of the errors picked up in the final proofread were introduced during the revision process when a change somewhere in a sentence has unnoticed consequences elsewhere.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Heh, I tried that too sometimes and it works ... until I can't take it anymore and return to my comp to re-write the shit I wrote.

Don't worry, I rewrite constantly too. I send my editors copies of my revisions, but they never seem to concentrate as much on those as they do the original text, so sometimes the new errors stand out, but it helps getting the glaring errors out of the way.

Crumbly Writer

@Jim S

3. Get a good editor/proofreader

Some of us keep adding the advice: write the entire first draft, revise to cut out the unrelated crap, and then let the editors attack, but we've had few willing to follow the basic suggestion they take the time to write a comprehensive plot with an consistent thread.

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