Reader Friday: Share Your Wisdom

With each new story we grow as writers. What’s one new thing you’ve learned recently?

A fascinating nugget of research? A new spin on an old writing rule? It could be anything.

Dazzle us with your wisdom!

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About Sue Coletta

Member of MWA, Sisters in Crime, and ITW, Sue Coletta is an award-winning, bestselling crime writer of psychological thrillers. She also writes true crime: PRETTY EVIL NEW ENGLAND is anticipated to hit stores in Fall 2020, published by Globe Pequot (Rowman & Littlefield). In 2017, 2018, and 2019, Feedspot awarded her Murder Blog as one of the Top 100 Crime Blogs on the Net (Murder Blog sits at #5). Learn more about Sue and her books at

15 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Share Your Wisdom

  1. For me it was something I re-learned: that I’m the worst judge of my own work.

    I finished the second novel of my challenge about a week ago and sent it off to my first reader. But I delayed sending it for a full day because I kept thinking the ending wasn’t right.

    The climax was there, and the resolution, but it could have been better. Or something.

    Finally I remember the old saw about writers being the worst judge of their own work (even when they think it’s bad), held my breath and sent it off.

    In the meantime, another wonderful person out there in Readerland emailed me, requesting to apply as my first reader. So on a lark, I sent a copy to that person two. So now the book was out to a female and a male.

    And yesterday, I received an email from one raving about the book, how tightly plotted it was, that the character growth and change was excellent, nd that the ending was magical.

    What? Magical? Seriously?

    I was doubting the abilities of the first reader to spot a stinker when s/he saw one when my phone rang. It was the other first reader. “I’ll get this back to you by tomorrow,” s/he said, “but I just wanted to say you’re one hell of a writer. Keep ’em coming.”

    Yeah. I almost choked. Maybe the ending wasn’t so bad after all. I’m so glad I didn’t allow my own insecurity to lead me to “fix” something that didn’t need to be fixed. (grin)

    • Wow, Harvey. That’s awesome. I pick the ms to death before I allow anyone but my editor read it (I’m brutal on myself). It’s only after the first round of edits that I send it to first readers. With doubts about the ending, that would have made me crazy. You’re much braver than I. Congrats on completing book 2 of 10!!!! You’re my hero. 😎

  2. Here is a quote I discovered recently on LinkedIn:
    “Accept, embrace and stop complaining. Just do it and watch everything fall into place.” — Will Wheeler (Founder/director of
    I think it applies to everyone and everything, including writing.

  3. Closed a deal on three new thrillers. Yay me. (New small publisher but regardless, a huge win for me, so I need to shorten my euphoria here to stay somewhat professional.) For one of the three thrillers I wanted to use characters from a novel published last year, but that novel is with a different publisher. Good plot, good voice, AND already written. Nope, new publisher doesn’t want that, won’t work, etc.
    “Can you rewrite it with different characters?”
    “Um, no, nope, can’t be done.”
    “Okay. Well, regardless, we want the next book in the series in five months. It will help us and you create the brand, better sales will come with the second book, strike when the iron’s hot, yada-yada.”
    “But… but… but I haven’t started any research yet, no outline, only a glimmer of a plot…”
    “Tough s—.” (For dramatic effect. Same message without the s—.)
    “Really? Five months?”
    “Five months works best for us.”
    All of a sudden re-writing a novel by making the protagonist a different gender in a different town with a different boss and a different POV all seemed to fall into place. (Same emotional baggage, ’cause it’s really special, so readers will need to indulge me on that part.) Voila, a three-book deal, with friendlier second and third delivery dates. Necessity is the mother of invention, or cornered-rat magic, take your pick. Either way, I feel better now.

  4. My WIP protag was about to see something horrid. I delayed a little, described some detail totally off the wall, then finally had him see the terrible image at the end of the paragraph. I read the page over and found myself holding my breath, oh the dread!

    So . . . delaying the discovery a bit ups the tension. That’s what I learned. (Is that a writing-basics thing? I’m still a newbie, so it was new for me.)

    • Excellent, Priscilla. You’re exactly right.

      A murder, say, isn’t suspenseful. The snapping of twigs as our character stumbles through the darkened forest, knowing the killer could attack at any moment, is suspenseful. Or the squeaky floorboard on the second floor when the character is home alone. The phone ringing in the middle of the night. A knock at the one door the character never uses. Footfalls gaining on the character when they’ve wandered off the hiking trail. Tires screeching around the corner, the headlights appearing in the rear view mirror seconds later.

      By delaying the outcome we build suspense and keep the reader glued to the pages. 🙂

  5. Sometimes, what we write is for ourselves, not the reader, and that’s okay. I started my first novel after I lost my dad to cancer, a grandmother to a stroke, and three pets to illness and old age in under a year. The novel was what is now called supernatural suspense. The main characters built a partnership and a family to fight against some seriously dark sh*t, and they won. Those who have read it and know me have never connected it with my family history, but I know. This book and the next two of its trilogy are my go-to books that I read when I’m deeply unhappy, or a death anniversary strikes a bit deeper than usual. If what you are writing or have written speaks deeply to you, it’s a success whatever happens to it with readers.

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