May 23, 2011

Crash and Burn

I hope you all enjoyed the week dedicated to me, including the excerpts from LET ME OUT. Since summer semester has started, I've been disastrously busy with homework. I'm not even able to continue revisions on my current WIP. I'm saddened, but also a little relieved. This MS is a beautiful disaster. A wonderful mess and all other adjectives and adverbs I can think of. It's been hard to get through.

I'm moving ahead with my career goals by working on a bachelors degree. I've been focused on my career 100% this year, but to be honest...I'm feeling a little burned out. I'm sorry I don't have much to post on, but here is a bit of what I'm working on right now.

Like a Virgin

            So you want to write a novel. It’s always been a goal of yours and you have an amazing idea that readers will eat up. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as thousands of writers have learned, but you have to begin somewhere. Before you write that first line though, ask yourself:
Do you have the time to invest hundreds of hours on one project? Oh yes, my friend. HUNDREDS of hours will be spent, not only to write that first draft, but to revise it as many times as you need to before submitting the manuscript. It will be hard. It will be time consuming and take more patience than you have at the moment. If you are serious about writing and have children, school, work or other obligations, you’ll want to make a writing schedule. Even fifteen minutes a day is progress and sometimes you will even need to force yourself to do it. It won’t be easy. You will get frustrated and you’ll need to power through.
Do you know where to start? You might think this is the easiest part of writing your novel. You already know what your characters look like and maybe a basic (or detailed) plotline, but there are a couple more items to consider.
First, you need to ask yourself if you are going to have a prologue. Now days, prologues aren’t that popular. They usually consist of backstory, which is a giant NO-NO to start your book. If you find yourself writing nothing but memories, set up or flashbacks in a prologue or first chapter, cut them out and put them someplace else if they are that important to the plot.
Second, what is your first suspenseful scene? Make that your beginning. Sometimes it won’t happen until 50 pages in, but you want to drop your main character (MC) in the middle of the action to reach out and grab your reader (or agent) so they will never want to stop reading. You will want to do this for every novel you write. It does not have to be a shoot-em-up scene, but your MC will be involved and the stakes will be crystal clear to keep your reader intersted.
Do you have tough skin? I’m sorry, but nobody thinks you’re serious about writing. You can tell family and friends how much it means to you, that you must write because you can’t not write and they still won’t care. They will view it as a hobby that you’ll give up soon or a phase. My husband still thinks “it’s a phase” that has been going on for almost five years. These realizations are going to hurt, but that’s when you need to suck it up and make new friends. Writer friends. Writer friends think you’re serious and they’ll give you support. Find a local writers group or friends on the blogosphere. They are more than willing to give you the support you need for the next hurdle.
The next hurdle being the agent. Agents are a wonderful guide through the publishing world. That is their job. They help you negotiate contracts, they pitch your book to editors and publishers and they give advice. Sure you can do it alone with some publishers, but you probably don’t know much about contracts or haven’t made the effort to study the industry.
You need an agent. What you need tough skin for: rejection.
It will happen many, many times and with every book you pitch. It’s just a fact. However, you must realize, and this took me a while to learn, that it’s just good business. It may seem as a personal attack, but it really isn’t! This person/agent has never met you before, they haven’t read your book and they have another thousand query letters to slosh through. You are just a letter that didn’t keep them interested. It hurts, I know. I’ve cried many times throughout the process, but if you are not willing to go through rejection, you are not ready to be a writer. What you must do, especially after rejection twenty, is to dedicate yourself more. Revise the query letter, send it out to other writers for critiquing and submit. Rinse and repeat again, and again, and again until there is an agent out there who can support you. The worst that can happen is an agent or publisher saying, “No”.
Are you willing to learn? I learn something new about my style of writing and my craft every day. I am not right all of the time and my willingness to try new things has made me a better writer and taken me one step closer to being published.
You must admit to yourself that you are going to make mistakes. How else will you learn to be a better writer without making a few?

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