Writing Tip #24

Don’t be afraid to cut. A lot. New York Times bestselling romance author Eloisa James recently lamented at a seminar I attended that, after some thought, she was going to have to get rid of the first 150 pages of the new novel she was writing.

Just like that. 150 pages. Gone.

Yep. It happens. To all of us. Sometimes it’s only after we’re into a story that we realize we’ve taken a wrong turn or plot elements aren’t connecting or a character who we’ve worked so hard to create just doesn’t fit in the particular novel we’re crafting. Don’t let a fear of cutting make you keep unsuccessful (or uninteresting) aspects of your story just because you don’t want to start over, or you’re lazy, or you’ve committed to writing 1,000 words a day and this will totally screw up your daily word count.

Trying to make something work rarely works. The writing’s gotta feel right. And if it doesn’t, it’s gotta go. Keep in mind, though, that I rarely delete anything entirely. I just create a separate document, place the chapters or sections in question there and put it aside for safe keeping, just in case I change my mind or want to use it later for a different manuscript.

Cutting is part of writing. And better you cut the first 150 pages than keep going and find your novel doesn’t work. The last thing you want is to have to scrap the entire thing altogether.

Panel: Take Control of Your Digital Presence

Take control of your digital presence before someone else does.

That was one of the themes of a terrific panel I attended yesterday at Hofstra University titled, “Making It Online: Writing and Publishing in the Digital Age,” which featured two speakers:

Eloisa James, a New York Times bestselling author who writes historical romance for Harper Collins and a professor specializing in the Renaissance at Fordham University. In addition, she has a forthcoming memoir, Paris in Love, about her family’s experience living in Paris for a year, which began as Facebook entries written for her fans.

Susan Danziger, founder and CEO of DailyLit, the leading publisher of serialized books in digital form which has sent more than 35 million book installments to readers around the world.

How do you do this? Probably most of you are doing many of these things already, but here are three ways to control your online destiny:

1. Blog. Every day, if possible. If you think you don’t have enough to say, conduct interviews with interesting people or go to conferences and write about what you hear (sound familiar?). “Make people want to visit your page,” said Danziger. “Be a trusted source.” This also helps you create what James calls “Super Fans” — people who will purchase your book, preferably those who are eager enough to buy it the first week its published, and are loyal enough not to illegally download it.

2. Engage. A lot. Post comments on others’ blogs. Encourage other sites to link to yours. Retweet. “Engaging with communities is so important,” said Danziger. Plus, it will help you move up the SEO rankings so that when someone Googles your name, the first thing they see is not your tag in Aunt Sally’s Facebook photo album.

3. Create your own website. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is imperative that authors/writers are masters of their domain. “Google loves it when your name is in your URL,” said Danziger, who went so far as to say that we should be reserving the URL names of our children before others stake a claim to their virtual territory.

“The only person who cares about your career is you,” said James. “Establish yourself as an authority however tiny your little piece of the virtual world is.”