How to Guarantee Your Writing Success

This is a start. Below each of the headings that begin with the letters A, B, C, brainstorm and extend the personality traits for this main character.

This exercise illustrates the importance of fleshing out characters. It also proves the many points a writer must tend to while he creates his masterpieces.

When your manuscripts are returned, do not berate the editor that returned them. Instead look at them closely and ask yourself, “If I had to write an outline for each of my main characters using my manuscript alone, could I come up with an intriguing outline?” If the answer to that question is ‘no’ you have work to do.

Beyond characterization, a great story must have an intriguing plot, an interesting story location, an attention grabbing opening and a finished ending. Resist the temptation to summarize your story before you get into the beginning.

Editors say that far too many writers spend one to four opening paragraphs of their story warming up. Warm up in a first draft. Edit-edit-edit your work before you send it off to a publisher or an editor. Edit out the warm up paragraphs and the summary lead-ins. Jump right into the finished story you mail to editors and publishers with an attention getting opening.

For help with openings, grammar, characterization, plot, and endings, refer to Dare to be a Great Writer, Elements of Style, Guide to Rapid Revision and The Author’s Handbook.

Great openings, grammar, characterization, plot and riveting endings attended to, perform a spell check on your manuscript. Today, all word processing programs come equipped with spell check. This software option has become a friend to many a writer. Make good use of it.

As your writing career lengthens, your writing style will become clearer and more recognizable. After you begin to sell your work more consistently, editors will grow familiar with your writing style.

Some writers have a poetic voice even while they draft their short stories and novels. Some journalists add a touch of entertainment to each article they research. Some novelists write with a memoir slant. A writer’s style is similar to a writer’s fingerprint. Each author has her own distinct style, a style that cannot be copied without flaw.

A last step before sending a manuscript to a publisher or editor is to submit your work to a reading or critique group. Do not ship your manuscript to Grandma Smith, Cousin Leroy or Uncle Joe and ask them for their opinion.

They will only give your work praise. There is little benefit in unwarranted praise.

Regardless of his level of experience, each author’s works needs to receive an honest critique. Check the local newspaper or the local white pages for a reading/critique group near you. There are several professional writers reading/critique groups on the Internet.

Some are free. Some charge a fee. Most have a limit on how many writers they will allow into their group at any given time.

To court and guarantee success as a writer be persistent. Persevere. Polish those returned manuscripts then send them back out into the world of editors and publishers.

Network with other writers. Join local writing groups. Read as often as you can. Study the markets you write for.

A great way to do this is to visit the bookstore and browse the inside pages of several books. Take a sheet of paper with you.

If you write Victorian romance novels, go to the romance section at your local bookstore and write the name of every publisher who publishes Victorian romance novels. Target those publishers when you are ready to submit your manuscript.

Above all, never quit. Continue to devote yourself to writing one to two hours a day. Join a reading/critique group and allow other professional writers to examine your work and offer you suggestions for improvement.

Master the lesson of not taking rejection personal. Watch your writing improve.

Reward yourself with a new outfit, a visit to the movies, a trip to the theatre or a new jazz CD. You deserve it. You also deserve to keep writing!

Keep writing! Keep writing!


Denise Turney is the author of Love Has Many Faces and Portia. Visit Chistell Publishing for more information on Denise, to purchase her books and to sign up for her free newsletter.