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January 9, 2013

Michele Richard: Writing Against the Grain

Writing against the grain.

What does that mean?

For me, it’s staying true to the story no matter what. Like any published author, I’ve been asked to adjust my books or been told you can’t do that by editors. Call me headstrong, but I refused to change the very essence of my storylines. I don’t believe any author should sacrifice the story to suit a particular person or publishing house.

That by no means means you should ignore your editor on grammar, punctuation, or detailing. I’m a firm believer anyone who is going to publishing a book should invest in editing. If you’re going to write it, do it right. You should never slap words onto a page and publish it.

I’ve been asked many times over the years if I am an outliner or do I fly by the seat of pants. For those who don’t know what that means: do I plot out my story or just let it flow. Without a doubt I am a flyer. I know where it begins and where it ends, the rest is just as much a surprise to me as the readers. I’m one who thinks the characters should narrate the book and share their story.

One of my quirks is that I also don’t write in chronicle order. Too many times to count, I’ve had the ending chapter written long before I am half way done with the middle chapters. My newest release Mocked by Faith ~ Affirming the Faith was no different.

It was actually written to be the end of Mocked by Faith ~ Healing the Faith. Actually the whole series was meant to be one book. Once the characters came to life, there was no stopping them. Their stories demanded to be told.

How did I know when to end each book?

I listened to my editor who said this has to end here.

Now for a few tips to help make the editing easier:

  • Words that end in -ly are a huge deal. (Most authors don’t know there is a publishing standard on this.) 1:300. That means: you should only use one -ly word for every three hundred words you write. Mine by choice is 1:1000. That means only one for every thousand words. But that’s a personal preference.
  •  Avoid the heavily overused words that trap so many. Was, and, has, had, and I if writing in first person.
  • Too many details are always better than not enough. It’s easier to remove than to add as you go.
  • Count the sex scenes in your story. Did you know more than four in a book makes it an erotica? Again that’s a publishing standard.
  • Are you writing in the third person? Did you know there is a point of view standard for shifting the view? That’s right, there is. No less than one shift per a page or an estimated 600 words. So keep those flip flopping to a minimum.
  • Lastly: Don’t give up if a publishing house turns you down. There may have been a very good reason such as it just wasn’t what they were looking for at the time. Or perhaps the manuscript needed more work. Were your characters unique and well developed?

I hope this helps any authors out there looking to have their books released by a publishing house.

Thanks for letting me stop by today and ramble. I hope you’ll check out my newest novel Mocked by Faith ~ Affirming the Faith.

About the Author:
Michele Richard lives in a suburb of Boston, Mass. She’s the mother of two pre-teen daughters and the wife.

Michele Richard has created the Mocked series. From Mocked by Destiny to the trilogy Mocked by Faith, she writes what comes from the heart. A wife and the mother of two preteen girls, she spends her days spinning tales about what happens when what you believe in mocks your every turn.

When she’s not writing, her days are filled with her family, her bunny Geneva, and friends. Her greatest passions are learning new languages and traveling. She currently resides in the northeastern part of the United States however; her family members live down the east coast as far as North Carolina.

She’s currently learning French and Spanish, and one day hopes to be fluent in both. Learning new things is always something she enjoys.

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  1. How interesting! I didn't realize there were publishing standards for those things. I'm not an author, but as a reader I find the "behind the scenes" tidbits fascinating. I have a huge appreciation for authors that make it look easy.

  2. Sounds like my writing style is similar to yours. One of my polishing tricks is to search "ly" using the Find feature of my word processor, with a goal of eliminating 2/3 of words ending in ly.

    I don't write in chronological order, either, which is a real pain when I'm trying to puzzle the final draft together. I just bought writing program called WriteWay that lets me jump from scene to scene, and move the scene order around without copy/pasting. I still compose in MS Word, but now I'm doing all my editing in the new program.

    Thanks for a great post!

  3. Overused words is a biggie for me as a reader. It will almost jump off the page at me and be very distracting.

  4. This was an interesting post for me since a friend of mine just said that the publisher she was thinking about working with wanted to change 50% of her book. Her response was basically that if they changed that much it wouldn't be her book any more. I think she is going to keep looking for a different publisher.

    1. I think this is happening more. It reminds of what writers use to say about movie adaptations - the movie looks nothing like the book. I guess the powers that be are starting earlier.

  5. One of the area's that we work very hard on is not to take the voice away from our authors. If a scene or even a simple sentence doesn't make sense, we'll ask them to rewrite or clear it up, but it really needs to be their words. It's their stories after all. Thanks to everyone who read Michele's post!

  6. Thank you everyone for such wonderful comments. I'm glad to see so many could connect with it. As always it's a pleasure to visit Donna's blog and her wonderful followers!