The two most important things a writer needs to do to improve his or her craft are to write a lot, and read a lot. Reading the classics is an important step every writer needs to take as he or she refines their skills. It is important to know what precedes him or her as a writer, who has written what. Writers can learn the basics of style and plot and storyline from the classics, even writers whose style is not at all classical.
My memories of books go way far back--my mother read to us all when we were very small. I was in a book club when I was about three, and read incessantly. In fact, my mother has a small Hummel of a little girl reading, called "Bookworm," that she bought because it reminded her of me. It was always books for me.
Wes DeMott, author of the successful political thrillers, VAPORS and WALKING K (both from Admiral House Publishing), answers some key questions about the components of a successful novel based on truth. DeMott, a former FBI Agent and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team member, writes from his own experiences, and enjoys helping fellow writers improve their craft.
Most recent acquisitions include SEA OF HEARTBREAK by bestselling author Bruce Henderson (a nonfiction book about the disastrous Sydney-Hobart race), NOT BETWEEN BROTHERS, an historical epic by David Marion Wilkinson, and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, a movie companion guide to the upcoming movie "The Blair Witch Project."
My mother, a children's librarian, read to me in the womb, so my relationship with words and books dates back to before I was born. Frances the badger (BREAD AND JAM FOR FRANCES, A BIRTHDAY FOR FRANCES, etc., by Russell and Lillian Hoban) was my favorite.
I was working as a theater director and supporting myself, first with proofreading, then with copyediting, then with line editing. One day, after eight years of tinsel and sawdust and squalor, Random House offered me a job as a senior copy editor, and the next day I had medical and dental.
My first job after college was at Allure Magazine where I worked as an editorial assistant. I left there to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. While at Columbia I took a book writing and publishing course which led me to the decision to pursue a career as a book editor. After graduating I worked at Scribner as an Assistant Editor and then I moved to Pocket Books.
Nancy S. Miller, Senior Editor Pocket Books, New York Director, Washington Square Press, New York Imprints of Simon & SchusterJanuary 1, 1999 7:49 pm
There have to be common- sense reasons to acquire a manuscript--that it will find its market, that there are creative ways to reach that market--but I also feel I have to fall in love with it on a gut level, or there really won't be a way to make it work. I can say that I have that gut feeling about almost every manuscript I acquire.
When I was ten, my grandmother died. To assuage her grief, my mother started reading romances by the dozen. I discovered her drawer full of them, and from then on, was an avid reader of romance.
When I was in my second year at the University of Virginia, my father hinted that I should winnow my list of bearable professions. Publishing consistently found its way to the top of the list. After that, I threw myself into publishing internships and the Radcliffe Publishing Course with zeal.