Advice for First Time Authors

Hi folks, here we are again and this time I have no magical victories to share with you. I have had the week from chaos and next week isn’t looking much better. I have had heavy rains, ferry boat issues, and too many family obligations. Next week is shaping up to be much of the same. In view of that, and understanding that you don’t want to hear me whine and snivel, I am re-posting some advice for beginning authors. It seems like simple stuff, but you’d be surprised how many people miss the mark.

As many of you know, I have been seeking out new authors and their first book to read. I have noticed a few disturbing trends.
Today I want to share with you something that all writers need to be aware of, yet it is far too common in first time authors. I’m not going to preach about vocabulary, sentence structure, dangling what-cha-ma-call-‘ems, adverbs or any of that stuff. I’m going to shoot at something far more basic, yet all too often neglected or just overlooked, but either of these two points can cripple your career as an author.
Point one:
If you want to write a series, by all means write a series. Plenty of writers do it, and some have made a career out of it. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this.
Recently I was reading a first novel and really enjoying it. I liked the characters and the author’s voice. The plot was good and I was having fun until… I turned the page to see, “The End the story continues in book 2,3,4,5 available here.” What the Hell? We were in the middle of the conflict, nothing at all had been resolved, and that’s it? This is how to make a reader feel cheated. No, I won’t buy the rest of the series.
I have found this several times in the past few months and it is such a shame. The proper way to write a series is to have each book resolve it’s conflict and finish off with a proper sense of closure. Yes, it is clear that these characters have more to do, but for the moment, they have a chance to breathe.
David Eddings was a master of this. Read any series of his to see how it is done properly. If you want to see a new author do it right, check out Phoenix Child by Alica McKenna Johnson. Alica nailed it first time.

Point two:
Now this one drives me crazy and I have recently found it in a book by a well-received author. I call it multiple personalities. The author starts off writing the story in the first person. Cool, no problem, but then he starts leaping from body to body.
example: Chapter one starts off, “I am a space faring female robot escaping the Galactic police. I am afraid. Is there no one who will help me?”
Chapter two starts off with, “I am Captain Nogor of the Galactic Police. I am hunting a runaway robot. I will catch her or else I will perish.”
Chapter three starts, “I am Junbi, a farmer on a backward planet. I am in love with and hiding a female robot from the Galactic Police.”
See what I mean? For pity’s sake people. I just started a new book, first chapter is written in the first person. The second chapter is written in the first person. Chapter one is a female character, chapter two is a male character. What the hell are you going to do when they meet? Beat you way through one of these books and you may end up needing therapy.
Here’s how it works, people. One character gets to be written in the first person, the rest in the third person. It ain’t that danged complex.
I didn’t include any examples of the books where they got it wrong, but I urge you to take a hard look at your work and make sure this isn’t you. The last thing an author wants is to annoy her readers.
So, has anyone else out there ever encountered this? Yes? No? Maybe so? Talk to me folks, tell me what you really think. You know you want to. J
And so to ROW80
This week is a complete loss. Barely managed two thousand words and read only a couple of blogs, I hope I can manage a bit better this coming week.

4 thoughts on “Advice for First Time Authors

  1. I've been fortunate enough not to see the multiple personalities mistake, but I just saw a leave'em hanging one. I was checking out a book recommended by one site, when I read that the book ended abruptly, with links to the following volumes. No, thanks!

    Great advice, Prudence!

    Elizabeth Anne Mitchell

  2. Hi Elizabeth,I agree that it's a no thanks issue. It's not that hard to solve the current issues and still leave the reader wanting more from the characters. If your characters are good, the reader will always want more. I sure do.

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