Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Hold these Truths to be Self-evident

Post originally published in February of this year.

Hello everyone. Today, I’m talking about truths and myths in writing. 2010 marks the 2nd year I’ve been writing for publication. It’s also the 2nd year that I’ve been working with editors and I have to tell you, I’ve learned some stuff.

I’m reminded of the line from Pocahontas: “If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” Boy, I never knew I didn’t know so much about writing until I became a serious writer.

Now keep in mind, these are just things I’ve learned. Your walk might be different.

Myth 1:
“If you write about a plus-sized heroine, you’ll never get the book published.”

I find this one funny and fascinating all at once. Let’s face facts, folks. Most of us women aren’t slim. Do we wish we were? That’s debatable. Who better to write about the struggles, joys and triumphs of a chubby girl than, well, a chubby girl? Women have hips. We’ve got curves, and ya know something else? Men like it. And what’s more? These like-minded women find it refreshing to read about a curvy heroine.

Busted: A good portion of the heroines I write about have meat on their bones and I’ve found publishers for each one of them.

Myth 2:
“If you choose to go into e-publishing, you’ll shoot your career in the foot before you even start.”

Someone told me this before I’d ever signed my first contract and the advice came from a print author that’s seen pretty good success. Needless to say, I was devastated. I agonized over this conversation for weeks. In the end, I said screw it and so began my career. I may not be deemed a success by her standards, but then, the last time I checked, she wasn’t signing my paycheck. The e-pub business is a bright and shining star on the horizon. There’s never been a better time to be an e-pubbed writer.

Busted: visit my website if you don’t believe this one.

Myth 3:
“The use of ‘was’, ‘ly-words’ or ‘ing-words’ are strictly forbidden in writing today.”

Think again baby! Everything in moderation. Sure, if you have a paragraph littered with ‘ly-words’ and ‘ing-words’, it’s gonna stick out and maybe you’re weakening the impact. Reevaluate the writing. You can use these things. Don’t clog your narrative with them. Think less is more and choose your words wisely. These things are like glittering jewels. The greater frequency you use them, the gaudier your prose. Just saying.

Busted: listen to your editors. They’ll let you know when enough is enough

Myth 4:
“If you find a storyline that ‘works’, keep doing it. Just be sure to change the names and location.”

Nothing will kill a writing career or make your readers grow bored with reading your stuff faster than seeing the same thing over and over again. I know there have been plenty of times when I’ve bought a new paperback book from a best selling author or bought an e-book from big names or small that I’ve looked forward to only to get two chapters in and say “Haven’t I already read this before?” Sometimes I’ll half-heartedly scan to the end and sure enough, predictability all the way. Sometimes, I don’t finish the book. That’s sad.

Busted: Not this time. Always stay fresh in your writing. It’s vital.

Myth 5:
“Can’t figure out the plot of a story? Dump sex in it and no one will notice. You’ll sell tons!”

This may fly with some people, but readers are getting smarter about where to spend their dollars. I know I’ve been ticked off spending bucks on a book that seems to be one sex scene after the other with no “meat” in between. I need to know why the characters are doing it, what drives them, how it’s going to help or hurt their relationship, will there be something lasting afterwards. Sometimes I read a book and at the end I’m asking “What was the point of all that?”

Busted: Not this time. Think up a plot then fit the rest in accordingly. The book can still be hot, but in the end, it’s always a story. Beginning, middle, end. Period.

Myth 6:
The “you can’t do that” theory. People will tell you “you have to write darker”, “you can’t use humor in every situation”, “you can’t make your hero an xxxxx”, “if you’re not writing this way, it’s not correct”, or (my personal pet peeve) “if you read this person, you can really improve your own writing.”

My answer to this? It’s my story and I’ll write how I want to. Writing is as unique to a person as a fingerprint. You have to find your own voice and style. Don’t model someone else. Be different. Be fresh and realize truths about yourself. Sit down and find out what you really like to write. What makes you happy? For me, I’m a comedic writer. I’ll always be this way. I believe that making someone laugh can go a long way in helping through the ills of life. Can I write dark? Yes, but it doesn’t make me happy and it sounds stilted and forced. This is me. And it’s okay.

Busted: Absolutely! Don’t be someone else, because ten to one, they’re trying to be someone else, too. Find your niche and let your imagination soar. You’ll be glad you did—maybe not now but someday.

Well, thanks for reading along with me today. Do you have a myth of your own to bust or have you found a solid truth over the years? I want to hear it!

Update today: I wouldn't change a thing from this post. Everything I have up still stands. :-)

As always, if you comment you'll be entered into the daily drawing. Please check back tomorrow to see if you won.


stacey said...

I believe that Myth's are meant to be brocken. people think two much.go whit what you fill.


Anonymous said...

Oh I love this post and many of those myths were made to be busted!!!!

in Germany

Rebecca Royce said...

Hi Sandi. Nice post!

Kristabel Reed said...

Sandra Sookoo, MythBuster! Thanks for the tips, I'll be sure to keep them in mind as I continue to write.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks ladies :-)

Annie Nicholas said...

Great blog, Sandi

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Great post, great topic. One of my favorite myths was that readers aren't interested in reading about women over the age of 40.

The Wild Rose Press published my contemporary with an over-40 heroine in 2008--and I'm still getting notes from readers thanking me for spreading the word that just because we have a few lines and "the girls" have started heading south--we're not dead!!

Love the post!

P.L. Parker said...

Good message. Enjoyed the post.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Nicole--that's a good one. One of the next projects I want to do for next year is a heroine turning 40. :-) Looking forward to it.

P.L. -- thanks for coming!

Thanks Annie!

carrie said...

Great post Sandi! Stomp some of those myths into the ground! =)

Adam said...

Great list, Sandra! :-)


Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I always love a challenge and would jump on the chance to bust any myth within my specialization!

Very nice blog post. I enjoyed your myths. Miranda

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Carrie :-)
Thanks Adam :-)
Glad you enjoyed it Miranda :-)

Anonymous said...

Great mythbusting Sandra. Great blog post. Enjoyed it very much.

Nerine Dorman said...

Thanks for the myth-bustin'. It's because of folk like you I'm happy to grow my backlist with the cream of the epublishers.

Stacey Kennedy said...

Marisa Cherney has proven the myth about if you are epublished it will ruin your chance at getting traditionally published to be totally wrong!!!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Jill. I appreciate you coming by!
Thanks Nerine :-) I feel the same way.
Yes, Stacey, there are alot of e authors out there that sell tons. I just couldn't believe a print author told me that before I'd sold anything. I'd love to send her that book and say "how do you like me now" LOL

Debby said...

Some interesting myths. That are indeed that myths! debby236 at att dot net

joder said...

I really enjoyed your post. The truths you wrote are very true. As for me, I've learned to never believe what doctors tell you but believe what your gut tells you. As a quadriplegic, many doctors have said I'd be dead in six months....but after 35 years of being disabled, they haven't been right yet.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks for coming by Debby!
Joder--I'm firmly convinced that 90% of what people tell you is wrong. Believe in yourself and that's all you need.

Brandlwyne said...

Thank you for writing the post. IT was very interesting!!!

Sherry said...

This was a very interesting post. I can't wait to see if there's any more Myths to bust.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks for coming by Brandlwyne.
Thanks Sherry!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Good morning! The winner of the weekly drawing is Nicole McCaffery. Please send me your mailing address at

One more chance to win from me next Wednesday.