Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, December 11, 2009

Keeping the door open

When you are about to embark on the path of writing a nonfiction book, there's no telling what you will experience on this journey. It'll be a series of ups and downs, highs and lows, a test of patience and a challenge to your organizational skills.

One thing I have learned in writing nonfiction books is that you can't really close the door to new information. Even when it seems like you don't need anything else for a chapter or a section of the book, it still doesn't hurt to be open to what new information may come up with that topic.

For me, I thought I was all full for the fiction section in the Revisions book. I had plenty of quotes, interviews, book excerpts and short how-to pieces for the end-of-the-chapter material. But after I started to see that there are fiction writers out there who have good information and experiences not covered in the book, material that could still be quite useful, I decided that I'm not going to close the door to that new information. Why not include it? One more quote or idea about revising your fiction won't hurt. Same goes for the rest of the sections of the book: Poetry, nonfiction books, articles, etc.

At first, I was concerned that there was just too much material in the book. Too much stuff in certain chapters. It would create information overload for readers! If not the writers using the book. But I was chatting with an Acq. Editor who is considering the proposal for this book, and she said, "The more, the better." She explained how the excess of good, helpful material would assure the reader that theirs was money well-spent on this book. It made me think of all the info in this book that I'm so anxious to share with other writers. The contributors have provided some excellent, solid advice and suggestions for revising your writing, and I'm so pleased that this will be available to the reading public soon. (This is just one reason why I love to write nonfiction books. I'm getting new, helpful and inspiring material out there to the reading public!)

In a FOB article I submitted to Writer's Digest Magazine, I suggested to writers who have completed and submitted books to keep that door open for new information. Don't close the door to news and ideas on the material you've written about. Besides, if the book gets rejected, you can update your information with this news you have come across. Keep that door open and allow the news and information about your topic to keep coming in.

Martha Jette and I may have finished the haunted houses book, but it's not like we don't stay active in the paranormal community or shut the door to news and ideas about haunted houses. (As it is, I HAVE to stay active in the paranormal community, on account of the OTHER paranormal-themed book I have coming out next year.) And I may have finished the Tips book some time back, but I'm still devouring everything that has to do with writing. I read magazines and newsletters, TRY to participate at AW, and network with other writers.

And, finally, I may have finished a book on deaf parenting, but now I'm adding new material based on new events. I'm reading news items related to deaf parenting and deciding on how that news and recent events should be reflected in my book. (I don't think we writers ever "finish" books!)

My point is, we should keep that door open to new ideas and new information relevant to the topic our books cover. Whether it's a chapter, a sidebar or the entire book itself, I think it's important to "stay in the know" and keep our fingers on that pulse. Who knows? The new information about your topic just may make what you've written stand out even more.

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  • At 12:43 AM , Blogger Angie said...

    I agree. It's not so much a matter of finishing, as it is getting to the point of diminishing returns in one's dinking, at which point it's time to send it off and let the editor have her/his say. :)

    And with nonfiction, good point about continuing to collect info. Aside from updating before a next submission in the case of the book being rejected, you might do a second edition later if the book is popular, or another volume on the same subject if you end up collecting enough new info, or updated info if the subject is one which changes with time. [nod]


  • At 7:29 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thanks for commenting, Angie. :) I love the points you have added to this discussion.


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