This is the cover of my first book. It was my "grieving" book for my brother Randy who died in a freak lightning accident. That incident propelled me into writing.
As first books go, it wasn't too bad. At least that's what I thought. But my brother Rick found the original printout of that first book and gave it to me this past weekend. Ahem, this was the original. The one before any editing. The one before I even got close to being published. It is terrible! Horrible, awful, putrid. You think I'm overreacting but I'm not. I skimmed through that puppy and thought if this author (me) was able to grow enough to write something publishable, then anyone can build on their craft. :)
So in honor of that terrible first book, I'm going to give you a list of what NOT to do in a novel. I did every one of these things in that first book. Oh the horror! LOL
1. Backstory should not make up the entire first three chapters. What brings a character to the place we find them can be fascinating, but it's better hinted at rather than spelled out at first. It's better to intrigue the reader by tiny references to something that has gone before.
2. Pages and pages of introspection and no dialogue can scare your reader. When he/she flips through the pages, there needs to be white space. As in dialogue. A book with no dialogue is slooow reading!
3. Don't make the book autobiographical. While you may think your situation is spellbinding, chances are it's just plain boring. :)
4. Don't take up pages and pages of action that goes nowhere. Every scene needs to have a reason to be there.
5. Don't change points of view in the middle of a scene. It is disorienting for the reader and it keeps him/her from identifying with your character.
6. Tell the story in as few points of view as possible. Multiple points of view can make for a richer story but the butcher doesn't need his own point of view to tell us that the character has brown hair. LOL
And yes, I did all those things in this first draft that my brother uncovered. It's at least twenty years old, and while I wanted to think it was a historic find, I'd be embarrassed to let anyone else read it! It's that bad. I shudder to think I subjected my poor brother to it! LOL
Have you ever done any of these things? And do you have some advice for aspiring writers?
Labels: Writing fiction