Five Mistakes to Look For In Your Dialogue

The “Now What?” Months are here! In 2014, we’ll be bringing you advice from authors who published their NaNo-novels, editors, agents, and more to help you polish November’s first draft until it gleams. Today, Cara Lockwood, author, editor, and NaNo sponsor, spotlights five dialogue potholes:

Good dialogue is hard for even experienced writers to get right. Bad dialogue, however, can be a major red flag to agents, publishers and readers in general that you are a novice writer not ready to be published. I’ve helped many first-time writers correct the most common missteps with dialogue, such as:

Flat dialogue 

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11 Steps to Check Off Before Self-Publishing

Curious about striking out on your own, and tackling the world of self-publishing? Miral Sattar, CEO of NaNoWriMo sponsor BiblioCrunch, BiblioCrunch, an author services marketplace, shares her 11-step checklist for self-publishing success:

Interested in self-publishing that NaNo novel you just spent all month editing? Before you begin, I’ve compiled a handy check-list that no self-published author should do without. From defining your goals, to remembering to convert your files, to making a marketing plan: this list covers it all. So go out there in the world with your book, and good luck!

Define your goals

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Emma stood staring at the spot the portal had been, only seconds ago. Now there was … nothing.  Even the water was gone.  Cora.  It had to be. Whatever enchantment she’d put on the place, it had gone with her.  Emma swallowed thickly, willing herself not to break down and start crying then and there.

That wouldn’t get her home.  And she still had the compass.  All hope was not completely lost.  Even though it sort of felt like it at the moment.

Sonofabitch.  Why did these things keep happening to her?  Oh, right, because she sucked.  Some savior.  All she could do was pray that Mary Margaret got home safe, and … God, who knew what Cora was going to do.

She hoped Henry was safe.  God, he better still be in one piece when she made it home or there would be hell to pay.

She finally turned around, after staring at the ground for way too long, wasting way too much time, and she froze when her eyes landed on a dark shape, just a few feet away from where she was standing now.

Right. She wasn’t the only one who got left behind.  Of course, he was just lyingthere now, like a big lump — which was her fault, and that sort of made the situation a little more precarious.

She could just go … she could leave him to fend for himself, which is what she should have done, all things considered.  She surely wouldn’t be the person he’d want to wake up and see waiting … but her feet had other plans for her, apparently.  She walked over to a fallen tree limb and sat down, resting her chin in her hand as she leaned forward, hoping idly that he didn’t have a concussion, ‘cuz that would just make things peachy.

Now What? Why Revising Your Novel Can Mean Filling It With Stuff You Like

You wrote a novel! Now what? NaNoWriMo’s “Now What?” Months are here—this January and February, we’ll be helping you guide your novel through the revision and publishing process. Today, Michelle Hodkin, author of The Mara Dyer Trilogy, shares her revision structure… and why revision involves thinking about the treasures you’re storing away for your future reader:

Dear Novelist,

I say ‘novelist’ because you are, in fact, a novelist now. You put one word after the other, created page after page, and you wrote 50,000 words in one month. It’s incredible, what you’ve done—I have three books under my belt, but I’ve never achieved what you have. Because here’s my dirty little secret: the act of drafting, of putting words on a page where none existed before? It’s my least favorite thing about writing. 

Which, given that that is writing, probably makes you wonder what I’m doing writing books anyway and where I get off Telling You How to Do it. That is a valid question. Here’s my honest answer: my first novel just poured out of me. I didn’t think before I sat down to do it—my big idea was literally, “Something happens to someone.” But for whatever reason, some strange alchemical compound of compulsion mixed with ignorance and confidence, I ended up with 80,000 words in four months. 

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#and him—jack sparrow (captain) for whom wanting is poisoned honey#everything he has ever wanted is/was/has been/ever shall be comes with a sting in the tail#he wanted a ship and the ship is his doom#he wanted immortality and it took his crew#he wanted the sea and it took his liberty#he wanted his freedom and it made him a pirate#and then here is this girl—this burning wanting desirous determined girl#and she’s terrifying#because everything jack sparrow has ever wanted comes to him cursed#there’s almost a relief when she cuffs him to the mast#he thought it might be worse than a little dying#and at the very least—at the very least he can look her in the eye and snarl ”pirate” because now she’ll know it too#that terrible bitterness the wanting brings (via notbecauseofvictories) (based on this FLAWLESS META)

7 Things Publishing Professionals Wish You Knew

The “Now What?” Months continue, and we’re shifting our focus to the wide world of publishing! Today, Holly West, an editor at Feiwel & Friends and the crowd-sourced YA Romance imprint Swoon Reads (a previous NaNoWriMo sponsor!), shares seven things writers should know about the publishing process:

So you finished your novel. Congratulations! That is a huge step, and one that takes no little amount of effort. But once you finish your novel, then comes the business of trying to get it published. 

There are many ways you can do this (I work both on the traditional publisher side for Feiwel & Friends where I receive manuscripts through agents, and I receive young adult romance manuscripts through, a crowd-sourced publishing imprint where writers submit their manuscripts directly). But no matter how you send in your manuscript, there are some things you should keep in mind that might make the publishing process seem a little less mysterious. I thought it might be helpful to share a short list of things that we as publishers wish authors understood:

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