I can’t speak highly enough concerning Karlyn Thayer. I “met” her through Writer’s Digest University while searching for a professional editor. I’d submitted my short story a few times, and received rejections, so I thought I would try this service. After working with Karlyn, my story was published with the first magazine I’d submitted it to. Yes, she’s that good, AND her fees are incredible. So here she is, Karlyn Thayer!
You have several short stories and a novel published, which did you write first? Why?
The answer seems as obvious as big, red balloons. We have to learn how to walk before we learn how to run. I see many writers skipping over the walking stage, with predictable results: books that fall flat. Learning to write short stories is an amazing gift you can give to yourself. I can give you an actual formula for writing a successful short story.
By “successful” I mean structurally sound. The story idea must come from you. Keep in mind, though, that writing is not a magical process. A story has a shape and structure that can be learned. You don’t have to write blindly and hope for a miracle. You can follow a step-by-step process. I can show any writer how it’s done.
What’s your opinion concerning outlining and why?
Here’s another big, red balloon. You need to know where you’re going before you try to get there. You don’t need an elaborate outline with Roman numerals and letters, but you need some form of planning ahead. Joyce Carol Oates wrote, “The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” Even if your outline is written in eyebrow pencil on a cocktail napkin, you’re still ahead of the writer who has no outline at all
How did you begin your editing career?
I was tremendously fortunate to find work with Writer’s Digest School. Over time, I’ve been privileged to review thousands of manuscripts. A person interested in editing could join a writing club and learn to edit the work of fellow writers. What techniques succeed and which ones clunk?
What is the most common mistake that most new writers make in their attempts to become published?
The most-common mistake is the failure to THINK before starting to write. Does it make sense to use your time and energy to write a story, only to learn you have no market? That’s fine if all you want to do is exercise your typing fingers. If you want publication, find a market and write specifically for that market. I strongly recommend Duotrope for finding a market for your work.
Does personal preference ever sneak into the editing process?
Of course! I’m not a fan of vampires, werewolves or witches, which are tremendously popular these days. I try to remain objective. I try to look into the true nature of the writer to determine what motivates him or her. I look for the positives.
What are the biggest rewards and challenges of your field?
Do you mean for me or for the writer? For the writer, the biggest challenge is in understanding what editors want, and then delivering. The biggest reward, for anyone, is always going to be the acceptance of a story, even by a no-pay on-line publication. Someone says, “I want to publish your work,” and you’re sky-high for a time.
How does an editor handle dialect?
It depends on how garbled it is, and how much it detracts from the quality of the narrative. In my opinion, it’s almost always better to write, “He spoke with a strong southern drawl” instead of writing, “Howdy, y’all. Whachoo bin up to?”
Are there other options than using dialect?
Ask yourself how important it is to include it. Maybe you can solve the dialect problem by eliminating it. Every time you use dialect, you risk distracting your reader from your main message.
If you were to give advice to a fledging author what is the best advice you could give, to assist them towards the goal of being published, what would it be?
As mentioned above, the writer needs to THINK about what she’s doing before she starts. So often we hear, “Wow, that would make a great story!” More often than not, we hear those words from someone who doesn’t understand the fiction process. Think about a story you liked and ask yourself why you liked it. Then put together your own version.
You can’t go wrong in THINKING. Writers don’t like to think. It’s a left-brained process while writing is a right-brained process. But like it or not, it’s a necessary process. Are you the boss of your brain or is it the boss of you? Make yourself the boss. Make your left brain work for you. After all, you feed it and care for it. I owes you!
What one piece of wisdom, writing or other, you would like to share?
I can share what others have written. Harper Lee advised us, “…anyone who aspires to a writing career…would be wise to develop a thick hide.” Ray Bradbury shared, “I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.”
I fully agree. We can spend a lifetime worrying, or we can get on with business.
Learn Karlyn Thayer’s story-writing methods through her course, “Writing Fiction that Sings.” Her website is www.ConstructiveCritiques.com
Thanks so much for your time today Karlyn! I have also completed her “Fiction That Sings” online class, and at completion, I had a ready to submit short story. Karlyn walked me through every step with one on one coaching. It’s invaluable, and so is she.
Until Next Time…