the writer's arsenal: 5 tips to take your revisions further

National Novel Writing Month calls them the "Now What?" months. I like to think of them as an opportunity to direct that jolt of ambition we seem to get at the start of every year toward something constructive. Whether you wrote a book in November for NaNoWriMo or are dusting off something older, the early months of the year are perfect for revising (or finishing up, then revising if, like me, there weren't enough hours in November for you to finish a full first draft). Regardless of where you are in the process, it is indeed a new year and there's no better time to hit the ground running with whatever you're working on. This may very well be the year you take that project to the next level, but you can't get there without first doing the work, so let's talk revisions.

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the writer's arsenal: digital baggage

Writers today have a plethora of digital tools at their disposal to (ideally) make their lives easier when it comes to mapping out ideas and writing anywhere, anytime. But this is one of those cases where too much of a good thing can potentially be a bad thing, or at least, a complicated thing, involving too many software and service options.

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the writer's arsenal: pitch, query, back cover copy

Call it whatever you want--as a writer, at some point, you're going to have to sum up your story in a few short, hooky paragraphs. Starting out, you'll need this fine-tuned pitch or query blurb when you're approaching agents, then publishers (though once you have an agent, they will often help you position it to perfection!), and ultimately, if you land that elusive book deal, it will likely be the beginning of what copywriters will eventually turn into magical back cover copy a.k.a. those enticing lines on the back of book that make you decide to pop it in your basket instead of returning it to the shelf.

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the writer's arsenal: the fly on the wall

Write what you know. It's one of the most common bits of advice writers are given. And no, it's not just meant to save you time on research, though that's a nice bonus. Write what you know doesn't necessarily mean write your life story (though for some people it does, and those stories can be quite compelling). Authors write about all kinds of things that have never happened to them personally, but that doesn't mean they aren't writing with an authenticity that keeps the reader believing they could have.

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the writer's arsenal: you are not an island...

Why do you write? Okay, maybe that's too big a question to answer. I know my reasons for writing make a very long list, with "because I can't NOT write" probably near the top. Maybe a better question is, what's your writing goal? Do you write for the pleasure of it? For yourself? As a hobby? Or do you write with the goal of being read by others? Of being published? Today's post is for anyone who falls in that last group-authors who write with the goal of being published, and it's in regard to how they conduct themselves in public spaces (yes, social media included). Admittedly, it’s a topic that’s been covered elsewhere, and covered well, but I want to add my two cents because good advice bears repeating.

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the writer's arsenal: room for interpretation

In my post on Query Letter Dos and Don'ts, I touched on the fact that you shouldn't praise yourself in your query. I want to expand on that a little because I see writers doing it wrong all the time. The rule of not praising yourself is twofold: don't praise yourself and don't praise your writing. Just lay your cards on the table and leave it to the agents/editors/readers to judge for themselves.

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the writer's arsenal: revision--because seeing it once isn't enough

There are a lot of blogs covering the topic of revisions at the moment. It makes sense given that the new year is usually when writers who completed a novel in November are either adding on (since 50k is a little shy of most mainstream novels, MG and some YA aside) or fixing up the ramble-fest they created during the feverdream that is NaNoWriMo.

I'm not going to retread too much on what's already been said--and said well--elsewhere, but I do have a few thoughts on revisions that I'd like to share. These are from personal experience, both revising my own work and going through the editing process on the work of others. Take what you will from them.

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the writer's arsenal: query letter dos and don'ts

Ah, the query letter, something that seems like it should be straightforward, and a quick Google search on the subject will tell you there's certainly plenty of information out there, but in my experience, much that info is conflicting or amounts to few concrete takeaway tips. If you're looking to sell someone on your manuscript, be it an agent or an editor, you need a good query letter. It's your first impression. Your pitch. And it's one of MANY in their overfull inbox. It needs to stand out. In my many years reviewing submissions, I've read A LOT of query letters. I've seen ones that worked, and ones that definitely didn't, and in today's post, I'm sharing my best tips in a clear and concise manner that I hope will help as you refine your own query. And if you need a second set of eyes to make your query as strong as possible, we can help with that.  For the sake of this post, I'm going to stick to tips that mainly apply to querying fiction. I'll cover non-fiction in another post, as it's a whole different ball game. 

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the writer's arsenal: organized vs. overkill

Welcome to The Writer's Arsenal, a series of posts about writer's craft and this adventurous business we call publishing. This industry can be brutal, and every aspiring (and published!) author needs the right tools if they want to survive. I'm not talking about a computer or pen and paper (though those are important too), I'm talking about skills, habits, and mindsets--those things that you can't just stock up on the next time you're at Office Depot. A writer needs a lot of tricks up their sleeve if they want to survive.  I've learned quite a bit about both sides of the business over the years I've been in it, and what good are tips and advice if you don't pass them on? 

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