Welcome to week 3 of our Top 10 Writing Tips by… feature.
Next up for the challenge is historical fiction author, Elizabeth Bell.
Top 10 Writing Tips by Elizabeth Bell
Elizabeth Bell has been writing stories since the second grade. At the age of fourteen, she chose a pen name and vowed to become a published author. That same year, she began the Lazare Family Saga. It took her a couple decades to get it right. New generations kept demanding attention, and the story became four epic historical novels. The first book, Necessary Sins, debuts August 7, 2019: https://books2read.com/NecessarySins
After earning her MFA in Creative Writing at George Mason University, Elizabeth realized she would have to return her two hundred library books. Instead, she cleverly found a job in the university library. She works there to this day.
Elizabeth was a Finalist for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and won Second Place in the Maggie Awards for Excellence. The opening pages of Necessary Sins were published in the inaugural issue of the literary journal Embark. Elizabeth is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, and she loves chatting with fellow readers, writers, and history buffs.
Here are Elizabeth’s top ten tips:
- Read. Read. Read. In your favorite genre as well as outside it. Read craft books about writing. Never stop.
- Participate in at least one writing workshop, whether it be in college, at an independent writing center, or online. Critiquing other writers’ work will help you recognize the flaws and strengths in your own. These workshops will often be the source of lifelong writing friends.
- Start networking now. Find your writing tribe through workshops, local writing groups, and social media. These people will critique your work honestly, commiserate when you’re rejected, and celebrate your victories. Give back to your tribe and never take them for granted.
- Be nice in real life and on social media. Always.
- Your first drafts will stink. This is normal. It takes time to learn how to write well and to develop your own voice. Be patient with yourself. Failure and frustration are part of the process.
- Don’t think that if you don’t write every day and meet a certain word count, you’re not a “real writer.” Some of us need to set aside several days, shut off the real world, and immerse ourselves in our fictional world in order to be truly productive. Everyone’s writing process is different. Find what works for you and make time for it.
- Save everything. Back up your work constantly. Keep your previous drafts. Return to them later and be amazed at how much you’ve grown as a writer. You might also find phrases or whole scene ideas you can resurrect, revise, and reuse.
- Never follow 100% of anyone’s writing advice, including mine. Some people just like to come across as “smarter than.” Some people want to remake every story in their own image. Others mean well but won’t “get” what you’re trying to achieve in a particular piece. This goes for agents and editors too. They are not gods who can do no wrong; they are human and fallible like the rest of us.
- Conversely, most critiques will have at least a grain of useful truth. Your gut reaction to criticism will often be to dismiss it, especially if it’s going to require a lot of work to implement. Don’t go with your gut reaction. Return to that advice in a day or two when you’ve got a cooler head. Those changes may be exactly what your story needs. If multiple readers are giving you the same feedback, pay attention.
- Decide if you’re going to write for the market or if your passion for your characters and subjects will determine what you write about. Some authors are lucky enough to achieve both simultaneously, but most of us will have to choose between money and love. Being a writer isn’t easy. But it is sublime.
Huge thanks to Elizabeth for sharing her top tips with us. If you want to check out her new release, Necessary Sins – out TODAY, then click HERE.
In antebellum Charleston, a Catholic priest grapples with doubt, his family’s secret African ancestry, and his love for a slave owner’s wife.
Joseph Lazare and his two sisters grow up believing their black hair and olive skin come from a Spanish grandmother—until the summer they learn she was an African slave. While his sisters make very different choices, Joseph struggles to transcend the flesh by becoming a celibate priest.
Then young Father Joseph meets Tessa Conley, a devout Irish immigrant who shares his passions for music and botany. Joseph must conceal his true feelings as Tessa marries another man—a plantation owner who treats her like property. Acting on their love for each other will ruin Joseph and Tessa in this world and damn them in the next.
Or will it?
NECESSARY SINS is the first book in the sweeping Lazare Family Saga that transports readers from the West Indies to the Wild West, from Charleston, Paris, and Rome into the depths of the human heart. Passion, prejudice, secrets, and a mother’s desperate choice in the chaos of revolution echo through five generations. If you enjoyed THE THORN BIRDS or the novels of Sara Donati, dive into Elizabeth Bell’s epic historical fiction today.