Tuesday, January 31, 2006

LC: Starting Over

Often people ask what I’d do differently if I were just beginning to write. There are a lot of considerations for a writer: do I want to write romance? Mystery. Suspense. Mainstream?

In 1982 I sold my first book to the secular market. The book was romance; I’d given the genre little thought since I wasn’t writing the book to sell. I just wanted to see if I could write a book! It must’ve come close to a book because it sold in six weeks and even more exciting, I’ve continued to publish--ninety-two books in the past twenty-three years. What? You say you’ve never heard of me? Never read one of my books? Fair enough; there are a lot of books and a lot of authors. Chances are if you browse the shelves your eyes would have skimmed my name: Copeland. I’ve published in the General and CBA markets. Romance, cozy mystery, romantic historical, women’s fiction, co-wrote a series once. You’ve seen my name in libraries and used book stores and books passed around by friends and family. You might have seen my name on local book stores' best-selling list—not THE Best Selling list, but a best selling list. Maybe you picked up one of my books once and read the back, then the front, then put it back on the shelf.

There are all kinds of studies on readers' buying habits. Some buy by name, some by cover, and some by back blurb. Seldom by title--mostly by impulse-that’s why best sellers are easily located within easy reach at the front of stores in floor displays and prominent placement.

What would I do differently if I was just beginning to write? Here is a complete, updated list: I’d buy a Complete Idiots Guide to Grammar and Style sooner, and I would read it. Cover to cover.

I’d learn who versus whom (or just shoot myself and get it over with)

I’d try harder to devise a fresh, stunningly clever plot. I’d stop using so many ly words.

I wouldn’t I felt or I thought the reader to death.

I’d pay more attention to technicalities: I’d use less stale clichés and work harder on effective dialogue, vibrant description, well-developed conflict and intricate sub-plots.

I’d learn my tenses and stick with one.

I would persist at my craft until I got better or stopped selling.

I’d dig into my characters more—their pasts, their psychologies, their faults and weaknesses.

I'd dig in less to my faults, my psychologies and weaknesses.

I would never again say an unkind word to a publisher.

I would never again say an unkind word to an editor.

I would never again say an unkind word to an agent.

I would pick my confidants wisely—my friends even more carefully. My enemies do well enough on their own.

I would be more adventurous with my writing.

The follies which a man regrets most, in his life, are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland

Have a great day!

--Lori Copeland. You can learn about Lori Copeland's ninety-two books at www.loricopeland.com.


At 10:17 AM, Blogger Mirtika said...

YOu know, I have a degree in English, and I still can't keep my who/whom and lay/lie straight.

I think I'm missing the part of the brain that stores dumb grammar rules. :D

Loved the tips. :)


At 5:16 PM, Blogger Patty said...

Girlfriend, I happen to know you are without enemies and surrounded by friends who love you dearly! But I did not know you had written that many books. Wowzers!

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Camy Tang said...

Great advice--thanks, Lori! I especially liked the one about being more adventurous.



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