Writing is a Team Effort
Behind every good writer is great feedback. An initial draft might be penned in an isolated shack, but it takes a team to elevate those first scribblings to publish-ready manuscripts.
Like making a film, a book requires more than just a script. A director’s vision translates a script’s basic ideas into a fully realized project. But directors don’t work alone either; they enlist consultants to improve accuracy and believability. Set builders flesh out the story’s world. Actors bring the dialogue to life. Once the draft is completed, editors ensure the scenes work together as a whole, and special effects teams add flourish so crucial moments pop. Finally, test screenings make sure the material resonates with its desired audience. A writer’s work deserves the same focus and attention.
Simply put, if you want your book to be great, you need a writing community. These are the people who can offer you constructive, objective opinions. Make sure they understand the genre; tricks that are acceptable in poetry, for example, may not be appropriate for mystery writing. Cultivate a network that encourages your success, because feedback can sometimes sting. But, by seeking out beta readers, critique groups, and editors, you’ll learn whether your story is coming across the way you intended or not.
Once you have these insights, you can start revising your manuscript. This usually focuses on broad-strokes: plot, character development, structure, or fleshing out settings. If you’re unsure how to implement these changes, professional developmental editing will highlight specific areas to focus on and suggest how to fix them. The technical quality of your writing can be enhanced by professional editors.
As a writer, your job is to create the story; your writing community is there to help polish it. With diligence, you’ll create a more compelling narrative with tighter writing. In short, you’ll have a manuscript that’s ready to begin its journey to publication.
Team Member Spotlight: Teresita Hernandez-Quesada
Teresita Hernandez-Quesada is a Book Designer here at FriesenPress, but to many of us she's actually a magician. The designs she pulls out of thin air are truly astounding. It's not uncommon for her computer screen to double as a tractor beam, pulling in unsuspecting passers-by with a beautiful cover.
When she's not bringing our authors' visions to life, Teresita is camping, reading, making art, and watching movies with her kids.
I was born in Havana, Cuba.
You’ve created so many fantastic covers for our authors, spanning virtually every genre there is. Is there a particular genre or book type that’s the most fun for you to work on?
I enjoy all genres, but definitely the most fun are photography, cooking, juvenile fiction and fantasy books.
Best part of your day?
First thing in the morning. The office is quiet, and I've just sat down with a cup of coffee.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role here at FriesenPress?
The creative part! A close second is whenever an author is happy and satisfied by the cover and layout I create for their book.
Tell us the best book you’ve read in the last year.
The English version of The Catcher in the Rye. I read the Spanish version 20 years ago.
What are some memorable books you’ve helped our authors publish?
- You’ve got another full-time job - Mom! Do your little ones know that Mom designs books for a living? What do they think about that?
My little ones are 2 and 3. They still have so many things to learn - including, for instance, what designing a book means. But we definitely share our passions together, like story time and arts & crafts. Maybe one day they'll become graphic artists or writers!
- Finally, do you have any Book Design tips or advice that you wish more authors knew about?
I will say that a good quality image can make a huge improvement on any project. Whether it is high quality in terms of resolution/colour/brightness/contrast, or an artistic and inspiring image, they can really make your book to stand out. Finding the prefect image to enhance a project really can make a difference
Writing Tips and Tricks from the Greats
The American novelist Ernest Hemingway once said: “My writing is nothing, my boxing is everything.” Writing a book is like a boxing match. You’re constantly sparring with yourself, thinking of the right hooks and the perfect punch lines. But what happens when you have a tough round with a chapter and run out of inspiration? How do you get back in the ring and knock out your next idea? Finding inspiration can be tough – especially when you have already smeared blood and sweat onto your pages. First things first: put down your pen and step away from your manuscript. Let’s turn to the greats for some ideas – they were great after all.
Read and Recycle Material
Reading is knowledge and knowledge is power. The Irish poet W. B. Yeats understood this oh too well when he got stuck writing “The Circus Animal Desertion.” In his poem, he catches a bad case of writer’s block and recycles old themes, heroes and heroines from his previous works. He discovers that his junk shop of ideas is indebted to the broad sweep of English literature. Not every writer will agree, but you do need to know what good writing is if you want to write well. Reading other material will empower and inspire you. T. S. Eliot once said, “Good writers borrow, great writer’s steal!” If your circus animals – your ideas – have deserted you, then seek out old themes, heroes and heroines and make them your own.
Inspire and Share with Others
As we’ve learned, the greats didn’t exactly come up with their ideas alone. They had help. In early 20th century Russia, poets and writers, such as Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Marina Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Blok and Osip Mandelstam, would meet at St. Petersburg’s hottest dive, the Stray Dog. They would discuss politics, art, gossip around town, and of course, their work. Join a league of writers and share your work with them. Not just for feedback, but to get inspired too. Bounce ideas off each other and see what you can conjure up after a discussion. If you’re unable to find a group in person, then find one online through writing forums or Facebook groups. The Internet is marvellous that way. You connect with other writers in a digital minute!
Find Solitude in Nature
For centuries, writers have used solitude and nature to kick their imaginations into gear. It’s no mystery why the English Romantic poet John Keats spent so much time in his garden. He found poetic inspiration and passion from the trills and whistles of nightingales. He then transformed the little bird’s song into his masterpiece “Ode to a Nightingale.” The great outdoors and a breath of fresh air does wonders for burnt-out brains. It’s like hitting a restart button. Otherworldly truths are hidden in the chasms of our minds. So take a hike. Get in touch with your senses and see what kinds of treasure nature can offer you. New ideas might be unlocked by simply going for walk.
Feel the Energy in the City
What is the opposite of solitude? Multitude! The American poet Walt Whitman could walk around the streets of New York for hours. He embraced the chaos. He found inspiration in the currents of people rushing through Manhattan, the Homeric-like ships docked along the bay of Brooklyn and the buildings that skyrocketed into the clouds. Fall in love with your city and become one of the scattered men and women scurrying through the streets. Spend an hour in a café, museum, shop, or the library. Dare to look away from your smartphone and watch how people walk and talk. Listen to the cadence of slang and mispronunciations and try to interpret them. And remember, people do far more than just slouch, nod, stare and smile. We forget about the rich and diverse life beyond our desks, and sometimes, stepping outside is exactly what we need to reboot.
Technology and Science
We’re living in a time when technology makes previously impossible things easy, and yet we quickly lose our sense of wonder. The American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson was in awe of technology and advised that we “Turn the eyes upside down.” Bend over and look through your legs and see the world from a fresh angle. It’s a great way to make your overly familiar world new and strange once again. Technology might feel mundane now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not amazing. How can metallic, man-made birds, or a four-wheeled machine that drives you to work every day not be inspiring?
Getting Back in the Ring
Every writer has a unique creative process. Boxers follow their instincts – writers should too. Write what haunts you, so your plots and twists haunt your readers. The struggle to find inspiration is real, but remember that your imagination is powerful. Flex your muscles, put those writing gloves back on, prepare yourself for a fight and show your readers what you got!
This Month's Writing Tip
Not everything we write needs to be part of a major work. To develop our skills and stretch in new directions it’s important to practice with “throwaway” pieces.
Writing prompts are a great way to get the ball rolling, but prompts don’t necessarily need to be word-based. Wonder and curiosity can turn almost any situation into a writing prompt. Photographs are especially useful. Try scrolling through an online image library like Flickr, Jay Mantri, or Barn Images. Look for people engaged in activities. How did they get there? Where are they going? What are they thinking and experiencing? With a little curiosity, you can create an interesting scene, character, and situation. And even if you never use what you’ve written, you’ll be a better writer for having written it.
Did you know that nearly 25% of authors who choose to publish with FriesenPress were referred to us by other authors? That’s why we have such a great referral program in place.
When you refer an author that decides to publish with us, you get $150 in cash or a $250 FriesenPress credit and the referred author receives a 10% discount on their package price.
It’s a great way to help a friend while also rewarding yourself. For full details click here.