Advice from Phillip Thomas Duck

Dear (Newbie) Writer,

1. Starting your story in the wrong place is without a doubt the biggest problem for newer writers such as yourself. Your story opening is peppered with ‘backstory’—providing all of the details that most readers would prefer to discover over the course of a well-paced story instead.

2. Responding to bad reviews is not a good idea. The writer’s life is one of both criticism and approval. The writer focused on a long career had best learn to deal with the highs and lows with the same level of detached understanding—some will appreciate your work and some won’t.

3. What do you mean the last book you read was by Dr. Seuss? And your mother actually read half of it to you? Great writers were first great readers. Period.

4. Not focusing on the marketing and promotional aspects of your writing career is akin to suicide. Publishing, like most things, is powered by an economic engine. If you don’t understand the business demands of success, of which marketing and promotion is likely the greatest variable, you are doomed for failure.

5. Not taking pride in your grammar/spelling and editing is yet another mistake. Beta readers and editors are crucial to the development of a well-conceived product, for certain, but leaving all of the corrections to others is sloppy and unprofessional. You should be ashaimed of yourself.

6. Not having a clear theme for your story doesn’t inspire my confidence in your ability to tell it. If you don’t know why you’ve written your story, or the greater significance of the events that unfold during its telling, then why should a reader invest their time? Quick answer: they shouldn’t.

7. Everyone should have a “drawer” manuscript, including you. Remember that very first novel you wrote? The one with flying rabbits and talking pigeons? The one your mother and significant other have told you, time and time again, is absolutely fabulous? It isn’t. Learn from it. Drop it in a drawer to collect dust. And begin again.

8. Writing that isn’t sensual misses the mark. Give me something I can see. Something I can feel on my fingertips. Something I can smell, taste, and hear. And give me these things every few pages.

9. Not understanding the market, what genre you’re going to write in, and what are the expectations of the readers in that genre labels you as an amateur. Once wrote a story about a boy wizard that fell in love with a vampire. After more than a hundred years of courtship they finally married and our lovely vampire gave birth to a son that looked suspiciously like Fabio. Because of the Fabio thread and the length of the relationship that produced him, you’re inclined to pitch this story as a romance. Not.

10. Kill your darlings! See # 7. Everything you’ve written is not Hemingway. Revising is the most wonderful part of the process in creating a publishable story. Of course it isn’t easy to excise that fantastic chapter that no longer fits with the flow of the story, but it must go. Let go and revise. Go ahead…you can do it. Let go…


Phillip Thomas Duck straddles the line between two worlds. For paranormal fans, no he isn't a vampire or werewolf, but instead an accomplished author that has published works with traditional publishers (Harlequin and Simon & Schuster) as well as independently. The author lives in New Jersey with his daughter.

One Quick Kiss (Sexy Short Stories) 99 cents -
Excuse Me, Miss (Romantic Suspense) (EMM #1) 99 cents -
Modesty (Romantic Suspense) (EMM #2) $2.99 -


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