Wow! Just look at this place. It’s all shiny and clean. I can’t believe they’re trusting me with the keys. Pfft, they’ll learn soon enough.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes!
Hello everyone and welcome to my first post here on Sarcastic Muse. I’d give you the tour but Amanda is experimenting in her horror corner and I’m not even certain I’m safe in there.
But, I digress.
As you’ve all no doubt gathered, I’m Chris Musgrave. The new guy with the overactive imagination, drafted from many highly-qualified applicants (well, just one actually) to fortify the horror/fantasy department in case of zombie outbreak (did I mention that I have an overactive imagination?). Anywho…I’ve been writing for nearly twenty years now, mostly in the genres of horror and fantasy with a brief venture into the murky world of graphic novels.
I’m currently working on the second book in my urban fantasy series, Harlequin. The first book of which is due out (hopefully) in April 2015. Between that and other projects, I write weekly tip (Tuesdays) and flash fiction (Fridays) posts over at my blog: Chris Musgrave – Writer in Training.
What can you expect from me?
I’ve spent the last twenty years writing, rewriting, banging my head against assorted objects in the pursuit of ideas, and generally getting it wrong. This writing lark can be a lonely and difficult occupation, and I wouldn’t want you to make the same mistakes I have.
What you can expect from me is advice, advice on what has and hasn’t worked, the tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years and, if you’re really interested, help on most writing topics from crafting horror to editing flash and much much more.
We have some amazing writers here at Sarcastic Muse (and I’m here too, still not sure how that happened) and even more amazing readers. I just want to take the opportunity to say thank you to all of you for giving me such a warm welcome and for the time you take in reading our posts.
Before I go, I’d like to share with you a few pieces of writing advice that I’ve picked up over the years. They’re written here in no particular order:
Kind of goes without saying but to be able to call yourself a writer, you really should be writing. It doesn’t matter what you write or how often to set yourself clear goals and stick to them. Get the words out of your head and down on paper/screen/sticky notes. Don’t worry about quality just yet, just write.
Reading should be like breathing to anyone serious about writing. Read like your life depends on it, read whatever you can get your hands on. Ignore genre, ignore what others have said about the thing you’re reading, ignore that guy sitting opposite you on the train who keeps giving you funny looks because you’re a grown man reading Twilight…on second thoughts, he might have a point about Twilight. You get my point. Read good books and learn from them. Read bad books and learn from them too.
This is where you add the spit and polish to your work. This is where it gets tough. When you write your first draft, do it in a way that gets the story from your mind onto the page. Forget about repeated phrases, forget about quality of the grammar/spelling (this goes for you too, Michelle), forget about plot holes. Just write. When you edit, you have to break each sentence down into its component parts, question the necessity for every word and, here’s the hard part, you MUST cut away all the crap. I don’t care how long you’ve spent searching in your dictionary and thesaurus for that word, I don’t care if you LOVE that last sentence. If it doesn’t fit the story, it has to go.
4. Get yourself a good team
Writing may be a lonely pursuit but that is only true to an extent. If you want to be successful as a writer, you have to get your work out there. That means that, brace yourselves, someone will have to read your work. I’ll just give you a minute there…are you alright? Do you need a cup of water? Just take deep breaths, it’ll all stop spinning soon. You good? Great. Writers need reader, but before that, we need people we can trust. Writer’s groups are essential. They give us support, an honest opinion, test readers. They also give you that much needed boot in the rear when you find yourself procrastinating. Trust me on this.
5. Finish your work
How many manuscripts do you have on your desk? On your hard drive? How many of them are finished? See what I mean. When you first start a project, everything is shiny and new and you can’t wait to launch right in. By the time you reach the midpoint, you’re already looking for something else, or you’re doing anything that doesn’t involve finishing your project. It happens to all of us. Some call it block and give up, others pursue other projects making empty promises about returning to it one day. Stop that now, sit down and get it done. I don’t care…stop crying. You’ll thank me when you have your book deal…preferably with money.
So, that’s about it from me. I better go and find out what that screaming is all about over in Amanda’s corner, or “The Lair”, as she likes to call it. See you next Monday….
…what’s this box of fingernails doing here…?