Some Tips for Writers

I’m fortunate enough to have a friend who edits a small press magazine, it’s called Morpheus Tales Magazine and it’s bloody excellent. Go check it out: www.morpheustales.com. He’s owes me a fiver now!

I’m also friends with a couple of other editors, as well as editing the reviews section of Morpheus Tales Magazine myself. Occasionally we have moans about writers, just as writers tend to moan about editors. During the course of these moans though certain useful pieces of information come to light. Practical information that will help your writing career. I’ve also used some of my own vast experience, and the experiences and advice of other writers that I’d read or interviewed.

Obviously this isn’t a definitive guide to writing, it’s just some tips, so feel free to add any.

In no particular order:

Be professional: Always read the writers guidelines. Nothing annoys an editor more than a story that’s too long, or not long enough, or simply the wrong genre. Don’t waste your time or theirs.

Learn to format a manuscript correctly. This means using the format menu and the paragraph settings to change the document’s indentations and line spacing, not using the tab and tapping enter twice at the end of every sentence to get it double space. If you format a story properly it’s much easier to manipulate.

Using the correct format, ok this is different from the previous paragraph. Most magazines/editors/publishers require standard manuscript format, find out what it is and stick to it. Some publishers require certain fonts and font sizes (normally 12), most prefer double spaced. If you can’t be bothered to find out how a publisher/editor wants to receive your work, why should they be bothered to read your work?

Write a simple, shortly covering letter/email. Include a brief description of the story too, and possibly a short bio. Some publishers want a synopsis, so include that. Include whatever it specifically asked for, that’s why you read the writers guidelines properly. Don’t include your life history, what inspired you to write the story or any other irrelevant information. Most editors will judge the story on its own merits and won’t even read your covering email unless the story is good enough anyway.

Do your homework. Read the magazine before you submit anything. Do you know what sort of material they publish just be reading the title and looking at the website? No. Find out the editor’s name too, it always helps if you approach the correct person. Some magazines and most publishing companies have specific editors dealing with specific areas.

Don’t give up. Stephen King was rejected hundreds of times, he collected his rejection slips on a large nail in his bedroom. Rejection happens to us all, even me, and although its harsh try to learn something from it. It you get some criticism listen to it.

Proofread your masterpiece, spell-check it and check it for grammer. If you want to be taken seriously then take your work seriously, this is part of being professional about your work. Check it for mistakes and typos. Not everyone’s perfect, including, on occasion, myself, but at least try to send your piece error-free. An editor will reject your work if it will take them some time to make it publishable. If there are too many typos they might not even read the whole thing.

There are more tips on the writers guidelines page of Morpheus Tales Magazine, right down at the bottom. It’s worth taking a look at these too.

Don’t think I’m going to give you the big secret about how to write a masterpiece, that I’m still working on. I can’t give you tips on characterisation or plotting either, I’m developing those skills as you read this! Read a lot and write a lot. As the saying goes practice makes perfect.

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4 Responses to “Some Tips for Writers”

  1. Thank you. I really enjoyed reading that and got some great tips!

  2. Thanks for this. It’s useful to get an editors perspective on things. One thing i would mention is never write in white on a black background. Makes my eyes cross.

  3. Thank you for these tips and guidelines, they are much appreciated.

  4. Great list. Most difficult to do is to read every publication you want to submit to. A lot of time, a lot of money. I’m not saying it’s not a good idea; I’m saying it’s difficult and time consuming.

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