When thinking of a novelist, the image that springs to mind for many people is one of the lonely author slaving over their manuscript until the wee hours, surrounded by a dozen empty coffee mugs and countless balled up pieces of paper. That is accurate to a large degree. Writing a novel takes endless hours of solo writing, tweaking your characters, plot and dialogue until the story is complete. Then what?
Then the collaborative part of novel writing comes into play.
Once your manuscript is complete, it will need to go through many different hands, cutting and polishing until the brilliance of your story shines through from that first draft. If your manuscript is selected for publication with a major publisher, there will be a huge number of professionals – agents, structural editors, copy editors, etc. – who will be reading and refining your story. How do you get your manuscript as good as it can be so that it is chosen from the slush pile of thousands of others before those professionals even look at working their magic on your story?
As writers, we need other writers. I have found other authors to be a necessary and invaluable resource. The simplest reason for which we need other writers is for general writing advice, such as how and when to approach agents, or tips on the craft of writing itself.
We need other writers as critique partners. Your spouse, sibling, parent or best friend is not likely to give you entirely honest feedback about your beloved manuscript, but a fellow writer and critique partner will. They’ll tell you what works in your story and what doesn’t. They’ll tell you if your dialogue is stilted or if your characters are boring. They can tell you why something doesn’t work, so that you can take their advice and improve your story.
We also need other writers to beta-read our manuscripts. Who could be better to make suggestions to improve the pacing and tension in your story, and to provide feedback on grammar and sentence construction but another writer?
Most of all, we need other writers for encouragement and moral support. Although writing is a passion, it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to achieve your goals. Other writers know the highs and the lows, and of the dedication it takes to complete a manuscript. They will commiserate with you when you get a rejection letter, then pick you up and gently push you back to your writing desk. They will motivate you and encourage you keep writing and to continually improve your work.
A local writer’s group is a wonderful resource where you can meet other like-minded people to bounce your ideas off, to find a critique partner or to learn and improve your writing skills. If your home town doesn’t have a writer’s group, the online writing community is an amazing resource. Through my online experiences, especially ones such as being a Writing Novels In Australia contributor, I have met dozens of talented and inspiring writers who think nothing of helping out other authors, taking time out of their busy schedules to advise and guide aspiring authors like myself. These authors know how hard the journey is because they’ve taken it themselves, and are more than happy to advise on how to make the road a little less bumpy for those who are still finding their way. Thank you to those writers who have guided me and continue to encourage me on my journey. You know who are, and I will be forever grateful for all your guidance. I only hope that one day soon I can pay the help forward by doing my part to help other authors in their journeys in the way that my fellow writers have assisted me in mine.
Writing Novels in Australia