N is for Novice—Are you?

A while back, someone on my writers’ group posted Randy Ingermanson’s “levels” of writers. (Yes, Randy Ingermanson of Snowflake Method fame.)

Freshmen are novice writers. They often have very fine content, but their craft is unpolished and they usually don’t have any contacts at all. . . .

Sophomores have a bit of writing under their belts. They’ve improved their craft and probably also their content and they’re starting to get restless. . . .

Juniors have gone even further. They’ve become strong writers. They’ve submitted some actual proposals at conferences. They’ve had an editor say those magic words — “Send me that proposal.” They’ve gotten that unmagic letter — “We’ve studied your proposal carefully and it does not meet our needs at the present time.” . . .

Seniors are those few who are ripe to graduate. A Senior is writing excellent stuff. Explosive. Powerful. Moving. But still unpublished. Seniors are worried sick that those mean editors are never going to notice them, that they’ll be submitting proposals forever. Seniors don’t realize that the editors are watching them, hoping to see the perfect proposal that can make it past the committee. Seniors are closer than they think. . . .

(I guess if you’re published, you’re a grad student.)

But no matter what your exact current level, Ingermanson says the key is to be patient. I think I’m pretty solidly a junior—and Ingermanson says he spend eight years at that level. Well, yeah. That’ll help teach you patience. (But I also have kids for that…)

So what do I lack yet? In Ingermanson’s paradigm, it’s the perfect idea. (Sounds a little like a breakout novel. Only a debut. Yeah.) And perfecting my craft.

And friends.

Facebook aside, who doesn’t want more friends? Why don’t you introduce yourself? What do you write, and what level are you at? (I’m Jordan, I write mystery/suspense/thrillers with or without romance, and I’m a Junior. Your turn!

Photo by Mike

5 thoughts on “N is for Novice—Are you?”

  1. Hi Jordan. Daniel here. I’m definitely a Freshman. I’ve been writing non-fiction for years, but just started my first fiction novel in February. I’ve been consuming information about fiction writing like Garfield consumes his dinner. One of my strategies is to follow the blogs of other fiction writers and make connections. I have my own blog, to which I post about once per week, but there’s not much action over there yet.

    I’m writing a fantasy novel: the good old swords-and-sorcery type.

  2. I’m self-published, but graduating next month. A small publishing house is releasing my second novel. I miss the excitement of being a junior. I miss the enthusiasm of being a senior. I had no idea marketing would be more work than writing is.

  3. Hi Jordan. I’ve published essays and articles the traditional way and self-published a memoir in 2009. I’m working on my first piece of fiction after 30+ years of nonfiction. Nice to “meet” you thru the a-z challenge.

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