Stephanie Lehmann has a cure for your novel – so long as you realize you’ve got a problem. She’s written a book: Your Novel Sucks…Now What? and it’s only $2.99 from Amazon and other sources. Best value ever, especially if you find yourself with 50,000 words at the end of NaNoWriMo.
She knows what she’s talking about, since she’s published four novels already: Thoughts While Having Sex, Are You in the Mood? You Could do Better and The Art of Undressing. (I’m not saying there’s a theme here.) Her fifth novel will be finished one of these days. Here’s an excerpt from Your Novel Sucks, to give you a taste of the kind of help you can expect, and to make you laugh while you’re being helped.
You can always find people who will tell you what’s wrong with your writing. They’re dying to tell you, as a matter of fact – can’t wait to flip over that last page and start formulating constructive criticism to explain how to improve that book. They may have the best of intentions — even as their comments make you crumble before their very eyes.
Didn’t they know you just wanted to hear them say they loved it? Didn’t they know all anyone wants is to be loved? And published?
The internet has made it so that getting published might only involve the technical challenges of turning a Word file into HTML, formatting it for the various ebook outlets, designing a cover, choosing a price and downloading. The stigma of self-publishing is fading. But wariness over the oncoming glut of reading material that will be available online is mounting. Getting that love will continue to be a challenge. So what’s a writer to do?
My Best Advice
You have to learn to love yourself.
This might involve years of therapy, some ugly arguments with your parents, perhaps a divorce and a trip to an ashram in India. In any case, you must do everything in your power to keep honing your
craft and realize it’s the process of writing, not the finished product, that’s important.
My fingers thought I was supposed to write that, but my best piece of advice is actually something else.
My Actual Best Advice
You have to be your own worst critic.
Why? Because nothing will improve your novel more than harnessing that need to be loved into your efforts to rewrite that book. It’s like getting married in Vegas while you’re still drunk. If you love your prose too soon, you won’t be able to see what’s wrong with it. So yes, I’m telling you to get to know your novel better before committing to the publication process. Shack up together for awhile and learn its foibles so you can make intelligent decisions.
Develop a critical eye so you can tell yourself why that chapter is so crappy. No matter what anyone else says, this is your show to run and you’ve got the final say.
Wait until you’re absolutely sure you’ve gotten that manuscript as good as it can possibly be. Then go ahead and show it to other people Then crumble before their eyes as they tell you everything that’s still wrong with it. As you return to your manuscript filled with angst, disappointment and rage, be sure to comfort your wounded ego: at least they didn’t see the last draft. (Unless your recent draft just made it crappier, of course.)
Note from Gabi: You’ll have to buy it to read the rest. And you should.