Friday, January 22, 2010

With a Little Help From My Friends…

better Monkey-typing Being a writer isn't hard. You sit down at your computer and start stringing words together. Words become sentences, sentences become paragraphs, and paragraphs become scenes. If you're writing a novel, put enough scenes in a semblance of order and there you have it - a manuscript.

If you're game, you can do some revising, some editing, some polishing. If you get bored, you can always go outside and play. Maybe you'll return to your work. Or not.

What will you do with that work? You can show it to others if you want. Or you can keep it tucked away somewhere safe, in a folder or a secret file on your laptop. It all depends on what kind of writer you want to be. There's nothing "wrong" with writing solely for yourself. Millions do.

It's entirely up to you.

But if your dream is to become a published writer, things get a little tougher. Somewhere along the way, it won't all be up to you. Others will read your work, and various members of the publishing food chain will provide input (some solicited, some not!).

Family members, workshop participants, critique group members, writing instructors, agents, editors, marketing experts, cover designers, publicists, and many others will pony up their ideas, comments, suggestions, corrections, additions, creations, alterations, and inspirations. All with (hopefully) a single goal in mind: to make your work stronger.

In my case, this is a GOOD thing.

I consider every comment and suggestion (although I don't agree with many of them, I consider each one). I think I come up with some pretty good ideas on my own, but I know for a fact that other people's ideas are often better. If I can be the beneficiary of their clever ideas (and best intentions), then that's a GOOD thing.

I'm not shy about stealing good ideas making changes; I can use all the help I can get!

That's why I'm glad I'm with a publisher like Midnight Ink. They know what they're doing.

Some evidence:

The title of HIDDEN FACETS (my original title) was changed to DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD. Verdict: much better.

The title of THE LAST LAFF (my original title) has been changed to KILLER ROUTINE - A Last Laff Mystery. Verdict: much better.

Like I said, change can be a very GOOD thing.




Lisa Bork said...

Those are good titles! Writers should be open to suggestion and change, but I know from my experience with critique groups, some people only want to hear what they want to hear, ya know?!

G.M. Malliet said...

Lisa - You have a great title yourself: For Better, For Murder. Yours?

Diamonds for the Dead is a good title because it sticks in my head. (Added bonus, it rhymes with "sticks in my head."

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Like you, Alan, I listen to all suggestions. Don't always agree, but always listen. It's key to expanding our skills.

I love both of your new titles! My original title for new vampire book was "I Could Bite You Forever." Midnight's: "Murder In Vein." MUCH BETTER!

Cricket McRae said...

Great titles, and I really like the Last Laff as the name of your series.

Published books are indeed a team effort, and thank goodness for that!

Keith Raffel said...

Alan, when I can come up as something as cheery and mature as your posting, I'll make a comment.

Mike Dennis said...

Very good, Alan. Just make sure you don't go "stealing good ideas", because let me tell you, no good writer ever does that!

Alan Orloff said...

Lisa - "some people only want to hear what they want to hear, ya know?!"

I know, I know. Pity.

Gin - Did you read a lot of Dr. Seuss as a child? Just guessing.

Sue Ann - Open ears, open mind. MURDER IN VEIN rocks! (Although I like I COULD BITE YOU FOREVER, too.)

Cricket - I know. Can you imagine trying to do everything that it takes to get a book published and on the shelves by yourself? I don't have that much time or energy! (I'd rather be writing.)

Keith - I thought everyone called you Mr. Cheery. (And there's no need to get nasty, calling my posting "mature.")

Alan Orloff said...

Mike - I think with my luck, if I tried stealing ideas, I'd end up stealing just the bad ones!

G.M. Malliet said...

I did indeed read Dr. Seuss:
The cat in the hat,
The cat with a noose.
I wanted to know
Who killed the moose
With a stick in his head.

OK, I'm done. You can tell I've put in WAY too many hours today.

Alan Orloff said...


You've had a long day, a tough time,
And your poem does (mostly) rhyme,
But this is what I knows,
Maybe you should stick to prose.

G.M. Malliet said...


That's actually not too bad, Alan. Think it needs another line ending in "nose," though. "And don't put stuff up your nose," maybe?

Work with me here. I think we've got a Newbery winner in the making.

Alan Orloff said...

We've got a shot, if you can do the illustrations. I'm terrible--even my stick figures look anemic.