About the Author: K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She is the author of A Man Called Outlaw and the recently released Behold the Dawn.
She blogs at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors and AuthorCulture.
Synopsis: Marcus Annan, a tourneyer famed for his prowess on the battlefield, thought he could keep the secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him find justice for the transgressions of sixteen years ago, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade.
Wounded in battle and hunted by enemies on every side, he rescues an English noblewoman from an infidel prison camp and flees to Constantinople. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.
The sins of a bishop.
The vengeance of a monk.
The secrets of a knight.
Behold the Dawn, my second historical novel (this one set in during
the Third Crusade in the Middle Ages) was released earlier this month. As I catch my breath from all my happy dancing and sighs of relief, I’m able to look back at some of the lessons I’ve learned over the course of two published novels and share them with you:
1. Finishing is the single most important factor in writing anything. If you have any intention of succeeding in this writing game, you have to be prepared to apply plenty of bum glue. A novel that’s never finished will never be read by anyone.
2. Don’t skimp on the planning/researching stages. Recording ideas, charting outlines (however lightweight or in-depth), and researching in the early phases of writing saves so much work in the long run. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.
3. Messy first drafts are okay; that’s what revision is for. Don’t fuss too much over plot holes and sloppy writing in the first draft. You can always go back and fix mistakes later, once you have a completed draft under your belt.
4. The story needs to dictate the word count, not the word count the story. While you’re writing, let the story flow as organically as possible. Most stories have a way of finding their own perfect rhythm and length. You can work on trimming or padding the word count later.
5. Don’t worry if the story becomes something unexpected. Few stories end up looking like we think they will. They all have a way of evolving as we write them—and that’s almost always a good thing.
6. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. When it comes time to revise, be merciless. Look extra hard at your favorite scenes, characters, and lines; if any one of them is less than perfect, they’ll have to go, no matter how much you love them.
7. Objective beta readers are vital. Writers will never obtain complete objectivity about their work. It’s important to find two or three trusted, experienced readers who can go over your early drafts and point out your blind spots.
8. Let the novel sit for a while after completion. I find that I can never really see a completed project clearly unless I throw it into the back of the closet and ignore it for at least a couple months. Start work on a new project and forget all about the first one, until you’ve had time to gain some objective distance.
9. Don’t hoard your work. When we pour our heart and soul into a story, it’s often a bit difficult to hand it over to the judgment of strangers. But a book that is never read isn’t much better than a book that is never finished.
10. A completed novel is always a triumph. Every completed novel, no matter its intrinsic value, is a success. It doesn’t have to be published; it doesn’t have to garner a huge advance; it doesn’t have to sell a million copies. The very fact that you had the guts and the skill to finish a book is huge accomplishment in itself. Don’t forget to bask in that for a while, before moving on.
Thanks for the great post, Katie. Good luck on your tour.
~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.