Joeseph Finder’s Tips for Writers

I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture at The Center for Fiction given
by Joseph Finder, The New York Times Best Selling Author. He shared his story
—a fascinating one—of how he went from working for the CIA to writing thrillers.

51e-V7ZwpwL._AA160_He also shared his10 Tips for Writers from which he believes every writer can benefit. Here’s a summary:

1. Rejection can be useful. It can prompt you to do more work and get it to the right      editor.
2.   Be stubborn but be smart about it and be persistent.
3.  Learn to value criticism. It can give you good feedback.
4.  The best fiction is about character, not plot. The plot should arise from the character.
5.   Avoid backstory dump. It takes people out of the story.
6.   Every scene should do some work Ask yourself why is it there.
7.   Reveal. Surprise. Cut out the slow parts.
8.   Never underestimate your readers. Surprise them rather than fool them.
9.   Just write the book. Don’t get hung up in the prose or the words.

10. Get lucky. Hopefully get in front of the right people at the right time.

I’ve read several of Joe’s books and have enjoyed them all very much. His last thriller, THE FIXER, a stand alone, certainly proves he takes his own advice.

How about you? What, if any, rules do you apply to your writing? We’d love to know.

6 thoughts on “Joeseph Finder’s Tips for Writers

  1. I think it was Katherine Hepburn who said, “If you follow all the rules, you miss all the fun.” My mother would have told you that is pretty much how I live my life. (Much to her dismay.) As to writing rules, I don’t think I have any. Oh wait, here you go: I don’t let anyone read my work until it is published, unless I need to make sure I am using technical terms correctly and that only happened in, I think, one short story.

  2. Thanks, Terrie. You’re right, it’s not fun to follow all the rules. I do like the last one though.

    • My personal opinion is that #10 can never be a rule and has nothing to do with writing. 😉

  3. Thanks for sharing this Cathy. They are handy to keep in the back of our minds- or next to the screen – because they are mostly very true and very basic. #9 sounds so obvious, but how many of us know people who never learn that?

  4. I’m a big one for beta readers, those who take a look at it, so that you know the story is working. As Mike Nichols said, it’s the X factor. You never know if it’s actually going to work until others see or hear the story.

  5. Triss, I think it’s easy for people to procrastinate–I’m guilty of that sometimes.

    Dot, I had beta readers for my last manuscript. It was the first time I did it officially.
    I found it very helpful.

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