One night some years ago I sent a message to the hugely successful novelist Danielle Steel to see what help and advice she could offer me, an aspiring writer. This was her response…
Thank you so much for your message. I’m so very glad to hear how much you enjoy my books, and how much you get out of them.
However, the question you ask is not easy to answer. I think the first thing a writer needs to do is to read voraciously!
It is very difficult to summerize the craft of writing. Try to be totally honest with yourself as you write, and write in your own words and your own voice, not one you think you should adopt. Be sure to give attention to the details of each of the character’s lives. When writing your first draft, don’t worry too much about how it sounds or about spelling or leaving a few gaps in the story, just get the main story down on paper. Then when you go back to rewrite you can put your critical-editor hat on and give it a good, rigorous rewrite.
The most important thing for a new writer is to write every day on a disciplined schedule. Even if you end up throwing out most of what you write, it is vital to get into this habit. Perseverance and discipline, along with the ability to empathize with others, are probably the most important attributes a writer can have.
You might also want to enrol in one of the many writing workshops or classes available in order to get some sense of how people may react to your work.
Once your manuscript is ready to send out, all I can advise is to do what every writer does – submit it to all the likely agents or publishers you can find, and hope for the best. Often agents are more receptive to new writers than publishers are. Sourcebooks such as Literary Market Place or Writer’s Market Yearbook, which are available in libraries and bookstores, will tell you what kind of work an agent or publisher is looking for and give procedures for submission. Many agents and publishers also have web sites now that will tell you about their policy on submitting manuscripts.
Best of luck to you!
Sharon has this to say:
I thought it was very considerate of this lovely lady and writing heavy-weight to message me back. I mean, she has hardly got nothing to do! Her advice I have taken on board over the years and I am truly grateful for. THANK YOU Danielle.
I just wanted to share this with you.
Until next time, Happy Writing, S