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Number one tip for writers

Often when authors are asked to give their number one tip to aspiring writers, they reply with ‘Read, read, read’.

I know that reading is important, but I think rewriting is even more so.

When you read a book you are looking at the finished product, and in most cases it’s the result of a lot of rewriting. I watch an insane amount of movies, but that doesn’t mean I’d be any good at making one.

Just like a budding filmmaker has to get off her couch and out with a video camera, as an aspiring writer you have to venture right inside the writing process. You have to try things out, move chapters, delete paragraphs, add plotlines, scrap characters, change sentences and change them back again.

I wrote three drafts of my first novel Angel Kiss before I sent it out to agents, and I found rewriting tough. But it was an exhilarating kind of exhaustion and when I saw my book improving with each draft, I knew it was worth it.

During the rewriting process I asked a few people I trusted to read my book. I considered their opinions, listened to the advice of published writers, went with my gut instinct and didn’t stop rewriting until I knew my book was the best it could be.

When I got a publishing deal there was even more rewriting to be done.

Since signing with Puffin last November I’ve been steadily working with my editor, making changes to my book. People often ask if I mind changing things. Initially it was difficult, seeing all that red pen on my manuscript was a little disheartening. But now I absolutely love the editing process. Every piece of advice my editor gives helps to evolve Angel Kiss into something I’m really proud of.

These days it’s very easy and very tempting to diverge from the traditional publishing path, and thus risk bypassing the editing process. I naively thought that an editor’s job was just to check things like grammar and continuity, but since signing with Puffin I’ve realised the extent of the invaluable direction an editor gives.

Just like a rising actor can’t excel without a good director, I believe that an emerging writer needs the guidance of an editor. They are the Tim Burton to your Johnny Depp, and they are definitely worth holding out for.

So what’s my number one tip? ‘Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.’

Laura Jane Cassidy writes supernatural crime for teens and her first novel Angel Kiss was published by Puffin in summer 2011. She blogs about writing, reading and other stuff at First Three Chapters.

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