Linda Rondeau’s been on both sides of the manuscript — as an author and as an editor. Today she shares about how she strengthened her writing skills.
Welcome! You’ve written several books in your career. Which was harder: the first book or the following books?
Writing is hard, whether the first or the most recent book. After fourteen published works, I’m still fearful when I start a new manuscript. I think the first book was the easiest because I was not encumbered with fears of failure; I was too enthralled with the ride. After the first book was published, I was overcome with the responsibilities of the aftermath—thinking about marketing as I was writing.
What’s your favorite book on writing? What do you like about it?
The best book on writing I have read is On Writing by Steven King. The first half was about his life and how he came into writing. The second half was basic concepts. I liked the book because he understood and encouraged every writer to follow their own style. It can be harmful for an author to think there is only one correct way to manage a manuscript or to even create one. While traditional concepts may be helpful, they are not commandments. Like the pirate’s code, they are guidelines.
What’s your favorite writers conference? What do you like about it?
I have to give the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference two thumbs up, at least for me. I attended the first one in 2001 and received the Writer of the Year award for a poem. God had called me to write in June of 2000, but I had no clue what I needed to do. At that conference, God cemented his call and reinforces that call each time I attend. Though the conference is managed by different folks, I still feel that same anointing.
What’s your writing day like?
I must laugh whenever asked this question—I never know what my day will bring.
When my husband and I married, we made only one promise to each other: never a dull moment. Very few of my days resemble one another. I might have a plan when I wake up, but the Hubs and God are very good and rearranging my lofty ambitions.
I do have a few habits involved in my day-to-day life, certain must-do activities in order to function. When I get up, I’m in fog territory. I grab a cup of coffee and do brain exercises to wake up. Then I have my quiet time with God. I look at what I had written down as must do, should do, and maybe can wait a few days. I do try to plan out my writing and marketing tasks as well as my editing expectations, but I’ve learned to be flexible.
What’s surprised you the most about the publishing process?
So many things I had to learn in this process. Perhaps the most humbling was how much editing my works would require. The carpenter’s house barely stands and the plumber’s pipes are always leaking. No matter how much we think we know about writing, we are unable to be adequately objective of our own manuscripts. I was surprised because I thought I had a good command of English, grammar, and syntax. I was humbled as I learned the craft. Writing fiction is much different than writing a term paper!
What advice do you have for new writers?
Don’t be in a hurry to get published. Learn the craft, get involved with writers’ groups, take online courses and/or attend writers’ conferences, join a critique group, and be patient. Good cooks are not born as good cooks, though they may have talent. To become a master chef takes preparation, thought, and practice.
Don’t start with a book. Perhaps start with a blog. If you’re writing fiction then start with some flash fiction, then perhaps short stories, and then evolve them into books.
How do you self-edit your manuscripts?
I often tell writers the person who edits their own work has a fool for an editor. I’m an editor and I desperately need a pair of objective eyes on my manuscript. That said, there are things we can do to polish our manuscripts other than proofreading. I go over each chapter a dozen times or more. I will look for inconsistences in description. Did my character with blue eyes all of a sudden have brown eyes? Did I change the name in places? I highly recommend the book Self-editing for Fiction Writers.
What does your revision process look like?
Revision is not the same as self-editing. Besides some of the above, I put my manuscript aside for a minimum of three-five days. I need to look at my work with fresh eyes and a less fatigued brain. Ideally, Steven King recommends six weeks or more. I often don’t have that much luxury of time.
While some authors prefer to work chapter by chapter, I prefer to complete the story first. Because I’m a more intuitive writer, I can’t really critique myself on story development until I’m finished. Then, I examine the work for cohesiveness, consistency, impact, and relativity. Rather than look at the trees, I examine the manuscript as a forest.
Award-winning author, Linda Wood Rondeau writes stories that grip the heart, inspired by her nearly thirty years of social work. When not writing or speaking, she enjoys the occasional round of golf, visiting museums, and taking walks with her best friend in life, her husband of forty-five years. The couple resides in Hagerstown, Maryland where both are active in their local church. Readers may learn more about the author, read her blog, or sign up for her newsletter by visiting www.lindarondeau.com.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Wood-Rondeau/e/B006FNG1BI
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/lindawoodrondeau