Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing Advice from Jim Cangany

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Jim Cangany, IRWA's awesome Token Dude, is offering his advice to new writers today.

Hi, Jim! Great to have you visit again! What wise and wonderful words do you have to share?

Thanks so much for having me today, Mellanie. I'm thrilled to be here. You know, I spent days trying to figure out what knowledge I could possibly have that would be worth imparting to someone just getting into this writing game.

I was considering offering my take on writing truisms like "write what you know" and "do your research," when something happened with a book my agent is currently shopping. After a round of editing, she told me liked the characters and loved the story, but was concerned that the romance might be a little too quiet. Because of this, she sent my manuscript to a romance consultant with whom she works to get a fresh take on the story. I won't bore you with the details of what the romance consultant's comments were, but I will say that fresh set of eyes gave me some invaluable insight that helped make a better story.

The reason I share this story with you is to illustrate a point about writing that, I believe, all too often gets lost in the shuffle--writing a book is truly a collaborative process. I know, I know, we read things every day that reinforce the image of the solitary writer, alone at his or her keyboard, with the door shut, wearing sound dampening headphones…I'll grant you, there is quite a bit of truth in that scene.


It you step back, the picture begins to change. Maybe the writer is fixing a problematic scene after talking about it with a friend or spouse. Possibly the writer is working on the manuscript after receiving feedback from a critique partner, or a beta reader, or an agent, or an editor. It's quite possible the writer just received the book cover from the publisher or a free-lance artist and is writing a blog about how gorgeous it is.

What I'm trying to say is this, when it comes to publishing a book, it really is a group effort. For an indie author, the group may be as small as a single critique partner and a cover artist. On the other hand, it could be as large as a small group of critique partners, a few beta readers, an agent, an editor, a personal assistant, and a publicist.

The thing to keep in mind, regardless of how big or small your support group may be, the members of it want one thing and one thing only. They want you to tell the best story you can. They want you to succeed. They are on your side.

So keep that in mind on those days when a critique partner questions your heroine's motivation, or your editor asks you to cut a scene you love, because those days will happen. On those days, it hurts to be a writer. But you know what? Being a writer is hard. As the saying goes, if it was easy, everybody would do it. It's the hard that makes writing great.

It's also those people in your corner who will help you reach that greatness. Yes, it will be your name on the cover of the book, and for that you should be quite proud. Just do me a favor, and when it's time to publish, be sure to thank all of those people who helped you along the way. After all, the more people you have to celebrate publication with, the better!

Jim Cangany started writing when he could no longer ignore the persistent voices in his head who demanded to be let out. He was a hundred pages into his first manuscript when he realized he was writing was a love story. He went with it, and has found his niche writing sweet, contemporary romance novels.
He lives in Indianapolis with his saint of a wife, Nancy, sons Seamus and Aidan, and the princess of the house, kitty-cat Maria. You can find him on the web at

More awesome advice, don't you think? I'm gathering quite a collection!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!


  1. Thanks again for having me, Mellanie! It's always a treat visiting.

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  3. What excellent thinking this is, Jim, and you're absolutely right.

    1. Thanks, Liz! It really does become a group effort, doesn't it?

  4. I totally agree with you, Jim. At some point, you really have to get other people's perspective because they have a distance that the writer lacks. Great post!

    1. Thanks so much, Jennifer! You are so right about needing that distance and perspective. Appreciate you stopping by. :-)