Saturday, September 6, 2008

WORD: Top 3 Teen Mistakes

by Gabrielle Linnell

This summer I've blogged a lot about how to structure your time and schedule your life so that you have time to write and know who the fourth judge is on American Idol. This fall, I'll be writing more about everyone's favorite topic: how to get published.

I always put off reading The 38 Most Common Fiction Mistakes because it sounded so negative. I picked it up a few weeks ago and was totally shocked. Jack Bickham is right on the money. So what mistakes do teens make in getting published, and how can you avoid them?

Mistake #1: They hate editing.

This comes from a writer who hates to have anyone else edit her own work. Seriously, I hate it unless I'm getting paid. But this works out okay for me because I edit my work. Many teen writers don't edit. This includes:

- proofreading for grammar and spelling
- improving the story after writing it once
- tightening dialogue and points
- making stories shorter

How can you fix it? Start a habit of editing your own stuff as if it was written by your cheating, no-good, son/daughter-of-a-hooligan ex-Significant Other. Ooh! Don't you feel the anger mounting? Edit your stuff as if they wrote it. It will drastically improve.

Mistake #2: They don't research the magazines they submit to

You don't have to read every magazine or website you submit to, but you do have to know what type of submissions they accept, what style they prefer and what money they will pay you or not pay you for your work.

If you do this, your acceptance rate will shoot up and you'll be happier because you know what you're getting paid, what you're writing and how you write it.

Mistake #3: They don't experiment with other genres

We're teens. We are historically proven to be experimenters, usually with disastrous results. But the same people who try dubious plants in pipes and eating seven hamburgers in one sitting refuse to expand from fiction to nonfiction, from essays to articles or poetry to prose.

Try a little bit of everything. I never use to write nonfiction but it's 80-90% of what I publish now. So of course, I dabble in fiction to keep all my guns polished. Experiment! If you do, you'll learn what you like and don't like and you'll get published more often.

There are many mistakes you'll make in life, and most will help you out in the end. Just don't make these mistakes in your writing.

Gabrielle Linnell has made many mistakes and somehow come out without a police record (kidding, kidding.) She's been published about thirty-five times and is in love with school. The wedding will be announced shortly.

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