I’ve made lots of mistakes in my life: the time I cut my bangs while my hair was wet, when I backed my car into my husband’s car in the driveway, not to mention when I was thrown out of an all-girl’s private school. But, I try not to make the same mistakes twice. So, when I began to think about what to write next, I didn’t want to make the same blunders I made last time. I’ll make entirely new blunders, but the following list I will attempt not to do again. Bad Girlz of the World, my hope is by sharing this, maybe you can side step a few writer potholes on the road to publication.
E. Michels’ Big List of Oopsies:
- Multiple books in a series need to be tied together by more than characters that are friends or family. There needs to be a common theme if there isn’t a common villain. Maybe this is obvious to most of you, but in historical romance it’s an easy trap to fall into. I have a 3 book series about 3 friends, but I had to go back and add an overarching theme to sell it after book 1 was written. My solution? My ladies are all in a disguise of some fashion. So, think about your series plot points before you start and save yourself some headaches. (This is what I’m working on now.)
- If you change someone’s age or hair color, write it down somewhere. Again, maybe this is a “Well, duh!” point to make, but I changed someone’s age and then had to surf through a whole book looking for her correct age. So, keep notes like that on file unless you want to spend a lovely afternoon on the hunt for details like I did.
- All romances don’t have to have an epilogue. I admit, this came as a complete shock to me. I’ve read quite a few books in my genre and I have always tried to follow the recipe as I see it. But, after edits I’ve already removed one epilogue that wasn’t necessary. Do you need to show the characters a year later all happy, married and preggers for closure to the plot? If you don’t *need* it, then you don’t need it.
- The entire motivation for the villain can’t be greed. He needs a reason for acting the way he does beyond what’s on the surface. I made this mistake and it took the greatest amount of rewrites to correct the problem. Now, I think this through, and have even gotten picky about it in books and movies. (Example: In the movie Home Alone, why are the baddies so focused on that one house? That plot would have been much better if there was a personal connection between the thieves and the parents of the kid in the house.)
- Relax and tell the story. Half of the manuscript will be ripped apart in edits anyway, so don’t stress over the perfection of page 82. Just focus on the plot, and clean it up to the best it can be. You have a story to tell—so tell it!
- Don’t get too attached to your manuscript’s title. Your agent will change it to send it out for submission and then your editor will change it to sell it in the editorial meeting and then they will change it again to sell it to the public. So, don’t tell your great aunt Bessie to look out for your book, Thief of Hearts, because soon it will be Outwit, then Scandal in Scarlett, then Must Love Dukes. *grins* Great Aunt Bessie will be so confused, bless her heart.
- Remember what you write. If all of your manuscripts are small town cozy mysteries, don’t set your next story in a big city with no murders. My largest wild goose chases in writing have been when I forget what I write. I write light, funny Regency romances. My books were sold as I Love Lucy set in the Regency Era. So, every time I’ve gotten dark and tortured in my writing, I’ve had to either set the story aside or rewrite it to be cheerful. Lesson learned. I will no longer waste my time writing stories that don’t fit what I write.
I hope you learned something from my mistakes. And if not, you were at least entertained at my expense. What writing blunder have you made? Let’s chat about it.