Advice For Writers From Author Cristina Garcia

Advice For Writers From Author Cristina Garcia

The author of "King of Cuba" shares some advice

Advice For Writers From Author Cristina Garcia

Advice For Writers From Writers #1

Last month, author Cristina Garcia spoke at the Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference in New York City. Here are some bits of wisdom.

On Writing:

  • When you are writing, ask yourself--What am I going to give the reader with these details in this specific sequence?
  • Writing is an act of seduction--there is room for no typos, only high quality work. You are seducing one person at a time. Your book is stopping everything else that takes up the reader's time. You're saying--I'm promising you an adventure you won't get anywhere else. You better deliver.
  • Writing in first-person present is the hottest right now. It's more intimate.
  • Don't worry about what audience to write for. Instead, focus on making your work sing.
  • Specificity is important in everything, especially characters.
  • Read poetry every day. It's like a sacred transition into a new space. It prepares us to write for the day.
  • Poetry finds what you really need to write about. Write about what you don't know and about what you know.
  • Buy an anthology of poetry. Flip it open. The right poem will find you at the right time.
  • We're not wasting our day if we're reading a great book. It feeds us.
  • Kafka had one word of advice: Wait.
  • Read your work aloud. Ask yourself: Is it essential? Serving the story? Necessary? Read backwards. Or randomly.
  • Consider the pleasure and obsession principle. If it doesn't give you either, don't write about it.
  • We don't waste time even if what we wrote is not used. Write everything even if it leads to a dead end.
  • Be a ferocious reader. Aspire to write like your favorite writer.
  • Remember to be patient. It took Junot Diaz 10 years to write "Oscar Wao."
On getting your work out there:
  • There are the big publishing houses: Scholastic. Simon & Schuster. Penguin Random House. Harper Collins. Macmillan. Hachette. But try smaller houses first.
  • Ask yourself--What's the point of the story? And boil this down to 30 seconds. Compare it to other works to think about how it can be marketed.
  • Have a strong Twitter presence. Follow other writers and publishing houses.
  • Frequent your local book store and library. Speak to book clubs; set up Skype chats. Set up Google alerts. Contact schools to give presentations. Volunteer to read your work to the elderly and blind.
  • Befriend other authors. Blog or Tweet about each other to show your support.
  • Remember, building an author platform takes time. Show your publisher or agent how you can reach an audience/platform through social media to take some of the burden off them.

Cristina García is the author of six novels, including: "Dreaming in Cuban," "The Agüero Sisters," "Monkey Hunting," "A Handbook to Luck," and "The Lady Matador’s Hotel." García has edited two anthologies, "Cubanísimo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature" and "Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a Literature." Two works for young readers, "The Dog Who Loved the Moon," and "I Wanna Be Your Shoebox" were published in 2008. A collection of poetry, "The Lesser Tragedy of Death," was published in 2010. Her recent young adult novel, "Dreams of Significant Girls," is set in a Swiss boarding school in the 1970s. García’s work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into 14 languages. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and an NEA grant, among others. Recently, she completed her tenure as University Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University-San Marcos and as Visiting Professor at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas-Austin. (From author's website.)

More information can be found on her website.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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