So you can read my books

Tuesday, March 27, 2012



1.) Elmore Leonard :

A. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.

B. Avoid prologues: they can be ­annoying, especially a prologue ­following an introduction that comes after a foreword.

C. My most important rule is one that sums up my feelings: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

2.) Neil Gamain :

A. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

B. Put it aside. Read it pretending you've never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

C. Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

3.) Roddy Doyle :

A. Do not place a photograph of your ­favorite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

B. Regard every new page as a small triumph.

C. Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog – "He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego." But then get back to work.

4.) Margaret Atwood :

A.) Hold the reader's attention.

(This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.)

But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates X will bore the pants off Z.

B.) There's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

C.) Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

5.) Helen Dunmore:

A. Finish the day's writing when you still want to continue.

B. Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don't yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.

C. Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite some more. If it still doesn't work, throw it away. It's a nice feeling, and you don't want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.


  1. this was great. All sound advice and totally made me laugh.

    I don't have a picture of my fav. author, but I do have one of my favorite book. Is that bad??? ;)

  2. Hrrmmm...Neil Gaiman is so wise. So now I'm wondering if the person that said an exact something about my novel is right or wrong?

  3. Hi Roland .. sounds like some great advice and thoughts here - when you mentioned prologue ... we never know where our books will go -

    - the BBC's book of the week last week - was a Coda .... Tim Winton's Land's Edge - a Coastal Memoir about western Australia .. he'd written the Coda because of his involvement in getting environmentally concerned in saving the Ningaloo Reef. I don't normally listen .. but was hooked ..

    The word Coda and the Codex of the past have always intrigued me ..

    Cheers Hilary

  4. Excellent tips! I will be coming back to this post a lot! :D

  5. ...that Neil fella's been around the block a time or two ;)

    Putting that project down when finished is imperative to success. Its amazing the amount of changes one can identify when returning armed with a clear head on their shoulders.


  6. Love that advice from Neil Gamain about when to listen to others' responses to your work...good stuff.

  7. Funny how some of it almost contradicts what someone else said.
    I still like it if my critique partners know what doesn't work and make suggestions on how to fix it.

  8. Cassie:
    Only if it shows the author committing suicide!! Glad you liked the authors' advise.

    My belief is that if they liked your novel they HAD to be right! LOL.

    I'm like you -- some words just hook me from the get-go. Codex is one of them for me, too.

    It's great I got to wrap the wisdom of wonderful authors around my post. It makes me sound wiser than I am!

    Coming back to a project with a clear head can breathe new life into it ... and you! I wish you luck on your latest WIP.

    Neil's wisdom made me seem so much smarter than I am! Glad to see you back here!!

    Listen to everybody is my mantra. It is the one of the best ways to grow as an artist!

  9. I'll add to Gaiman, and say that you should listen not only to what your readers/crits/editors say, but also listen to what they DON'T say.

    I have a tough time putting my work aside after the first draft. I like to finish finish, so I can move on to the next.

    I'm working on it, though. No doubt it helps, and you will hear it with a new head and a new voice on re-read, and hopefully make it something more worthwhile to the reader.

    As for stopping at a place where you want to continue, that is IMPERATIVE!

    If you do not want to continue writing from this point, then, well, Dear Auld Reader ain't a-gonna feel like reading from this point, should they stop.

    - Eric

  10. I love 2C, 3A, and 4B. These were fun to read, and are great advice. Thanks for pulling them together into a nice little package!

  11. Lara:
    Thank you for liking them enough to stop and chat awhile. It means a lot to me. Roland

  12. Ah, words of the wise, I will cherish them. 4C especially gives me comfort in this time of rewrites. Thank you for sharing, Roland.