Never Done

Seven years ago I decided that I had a story burning up inside me that I needed to get out. So I wrote over 100 pages and went to get feedback.

It wasn’t pretty.

So I decided to take a writing course. That helped shape me up. I rewrote the story, got stuck, so write an entirely different novel, applying all the good notes I received from my course. I used said without fear, made sure the character’s scenes were conflict motivated, beefed up my setting description but not over doing it.

This time when I handed my manuscript to beta readers, I got more line-by-line tweaks since I had improved my basic building blocks of writing a compelling story. Now that I am starting to feel good again about my abilities as a writer I read a blog and now I question my sentence structure. Am I varying them enough? Am I boring the readers?

Even though I’m submitting my work to agents to get this book published, should I stop and rework the entire thing, for the 12th time? I know that each time I work on the manuscript it is getting better but when can I just let it go? When will I stop working over the same material but from different angles?

My guess is once this is goes to print. *sigh* That seems like that is so far away. At least, I don’t feel sick of working on it but I sure wish I could stop feeling self conscious of it and just feel done with it. Well, that could be my motivation to get this done and printed. So I can truly be complete with this manuscript.

Back to the little red pen.
The Dutiful Writer

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Focus

My creativity, well most likely my life, is being super squirrelly. I’ll get these great ideas and I’m excited to do the work. The words flow out of me and onto the page. It feels me with joy and struggles to capture it all. And then nothing. I slam into my own back hole. I’ve never had this happen to me before it’s like I’ve been robbed of the sun.

Maybe this is because I’ve still got other pieces that are in various stages of pruning and shaping that I can’t seem to focus so my mind keeps wanting to wrap up the other works first? Naw, that sounds like an excuse. So how do I keep my eye on the long-term goal of getting the actually writing down and finish a project?

Well, I do know of one thing NaNoWriMo is around the corner. I’ve been wanting to do it for a few years but I’ve normally been neck deep in editing when November has came around. So this year I’ll make sure I’m pumped and ready to write starting November 1st. I love me a good deadline so this idea works with my goal oriented brain. So between here and November I’ll make sure I’ve got the structure of what I want to happen and the characters a bit more fleshed out than what I normally have before I start writing and see how it goes for me.

To the plan,

Melissa

On Safari

Our ammunition is the query, synopsis (of various lengths), and  first pages or chapters of our book. Our bullets are stuffed into either an envelope or email and our hopes ride on them finding the target and bagging an agent.

Picture of unseen person wearing a safari hat and binoculars peeking through grass

Yet how does one make their bullets powerfully enough to hook that agent’s overwhelmed eye? Well, isn’t that the book-contract-question? If I knew the magic recipe I’d have done it already. So it’s back to the basics.

The two most important things to snag an agent:

  • R.I.F
  • content.

R.I.F. (Reading Is Fundamental): Search for agents and only submit to the ones who want your type work. Did you write a killer spy novel but blindly submitted it to a romance agent? Boo on you. Be respectful of the agent’s time and yours. Read what they want, how they want to be submitted to and then follow their wishes.

Simple, yes but don’t get your material thrown off the to-do list because you didn’t feel like cutting your synopsis down from the ten-page monster you are in love with down to the requested two-page one.

Content: Again a no-brainer yet you can’t over state the obvious. Clean up your work. Get feedback from people who are actually submitting and doing the work. Befriend someone who is a grammar stickler. Ask for help. Always look for ways to be a better writer.

So while it’s tough being on safari and polishing your guns for that big hunt over and over again (and you feel like everything you write is rubbish), have faith. And if you don’t have faith in your work, keep writing, learn how do better, and find support around you to keep going when the brushes seems to snare you.

Remember one of the best author out on an agent hunt story I’d hear was Kathryn Stockett. You know her little book called The Help. She had over 60 rejections letters from agents and it took her over 5 years to finally down a live one. But she decided that her book and her work were worth it. So don’t get too discouraged just keep reloading and putting yourself out there, in the hunt.

Shh, did you hear that twig snap? They must be close; look alive and release the hounds.

Tallyho,

Melissa

Adrenaline Shot to the Heart

Since September I’ve been sending out my manuscript, query, and synopsis to literary agents. It’s been a bit disheartening and hard to keep my own personal moral up. I don’t mind the thank-you-no-thank-you letters/emails, it’s the no word ones that kind of tie me up.

By them not even sending a note, I have to wait the entire 2-8 weeks before I feel comfortable sending my paperwork out to the next set of agents. I know I don’t need to but it feels unprofessional to do otherwise. So I send out to agents in batches and then wait and wait to hear nothing except my calendar inform me that I can begin the process again.

Yet this time, I got a little tug on my line. An agent actually requested to see the first five pages of my manuscript. I know it’s not much, it’s not even 2% of my book, but it makes me feel great. Which is exactly what I needed to keep my edits and writing humming back on track. Even if this isn’t the agent for me, I appreciate that her asking for more, it lifts my spirits and juices my drive to hit the pages harder.

To the work!

Please let me channel the Energizer bunny behind the keyboard,

~The Writer

Big Game Hunter

I’ve been hunting for the elusive literary agent. They seem overwhelmed by the changes in the publishing world and overworked from everyone and their mother seeming wanting to be represented. So what can one lone safari tracking writer do?

Write the best story they can.

That’s it. Our job is to write because it is in our heart and soul to do so. Getting a literary agent or publisher to find your work is just due diligence & a mountain of patience. I know people have tip lists and rules of thumbs to find the right one but it all comes down to what you can control and that is what you write. So be fearless; continue to write even in the face of thank-you-no-thank-you canned email responses.

My advice may not be rock science but good old grit and determination. Believe in why you started down this path. For me, it was because if I didn’t write the story, they would be stuck in my mind with the characters screaming to get out until I slowly stopped believing in them and then they would start to die of neglect. Now is that anyway to treat my imaginary friends?

So I continue to write and take the time to continue to search for a way to share my character’s antics with the world by submitting to literary agents.

Which by the way I should be doing right now.

Onward to the hunt,

The Writer

Tiny Pushes

It’s funny when your tank and creativity is dry and you feel like the most unoriginal writer in the world, when you receive a kind word from a random person. That one drop is like water to parched land; I feel better and it gives me the fortitude to continue the work.

Without these tiny nudges to remind me that I doing what I’m meant to do, I doubt I could go on. So I thank all of those who read my early work, read by blog, or just random people who I meet and when I tell them, “I’m a writer,” they aren’t dismissive but instead are genuinely excited that they know someone who is blazing a path to capture their dreams. I don’t know where I’d be without all of your love and support; I’m more grateful than mere words could express, which is a great concession to someone who adores words, but my hope is that I am able to support you to in return.

All My Love & Gratitude,

~The Blessed Writer

Mood Shifter

I love coming up with new ways to describe things. It may be odd to make something what is black and white like a typed story into imaging what it would be like if we could describe it with other senses. So here’s my question: is your story like a cozy hot tottie by the fire or maybe so cute that a gaggle of kittens would fart fairy dust? And if it’s not what you want, how can you change it?

A few elements that can change the readers images/sense of the story are sentence structure, word choice, and mood.

Sentence Structure – short simple sentences are like crack for most readers, they move the story along at a fast clip. Dense sentences are great for reflective times where the author is slowing down the pace.

  • My feet slapped the pavement. I gave in. I stopped and leaned against a wall. My breath was ragged and raspy to my ears. There’s no way out, my brain protested.
  • With my breath raspy and ragged in my ears, my feet slapped the pavement. I gave in, leaned against a wall, and thought, there’s no way out.

Word Choice – is paramount because this can change the feel of everything in a story so once you know what mood you’re going for it’s easy to see if a word doesn’t work to create a mood.

  • The fire shot up, pushing the night’s darkness to the edge of the campsite.
  • The fire snaked up into the sky, gobbling up the black sky, and shadows danced around the campsite.

Mood – is the feeling the reader gets from the writing. It’s created by using a combination of sentence structure and word choice.

  • birthday decorations before the party:
  1. Cries of not it float through the window, my lips can’t help but smile. Cake with grass green frosting with five red candles are center stage waiting for the singing masses of his friends to bounce off the walls. It’s perfect.
  2. Cries of not it burst through my roiling emotions. The sounds are everyday but they are hollow. Cake with grass green frosting with five red candles are center stage waiting for the singing masses of his friends to bounce off the walls. It seems so perfect but how long can it last?

The first is light and carefree but in the second there is a sense of foreboding and unease. So using these very basic but powerful elements one change the world or at least shake up your character’s world.

So go reek some havoc and have fun playing with these elements to your hearts desire.

Nothing like messing with your character’s minds. We meddle because we care!