Stand Up To The Challenge

Cb3l1HoVAAEOgtTI’m a procrastinator. At least I am when it comes to writing. I know that sounds bad, and I know that it has held me up. I’ve been told by agents as well as published authors that the key to success is simple. Don’t give up!

We don’t start out thinking I’m going to give up. It festers and builds slowly in our psyche and often we don’t even realize it’s happening.  We begin to procrastinate. We lose interest, get tired, or become discouraged. Nothing seems to work. Allowing any of these feelings to take root, can all but terminate a work in progress.

We move on to another project thinking we need a break but never return. This may be a good idea in some instances, but a lot of times this break is used as an excuse, an escape if you will from our fear of failure.

I’m embarrassed at times to tell people how long I’ve worked on Always and Forever. Why has it taken so long? I’ve allowed myself to become discouraged. I have taken breaks – sometimes necessary, but other times to get away from a project that has become overwhelming to me.

I’m at the point where I have to decide what I’m going to do. We all have a limited amount of time. Am I going to waste mine procrastinating and running away from things I want to do but don’t because they appear to be too hard, or am I going to stand up to the challenge and face my nemesis head on?

My decision is to stand up. I hope yours will be too.

-Jan R

 

Stand Up To The Challenge

Are You Providing That Emotional Experience?

forbetterforworseimageI can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrase, ‘show don’t tell’. We all know you’re suppose to show and not tell. Why? You want the reader to experience the scene as if they are one of the characters walking through the story beside the hero/heroine.

If you’re like me, you know what you’re suppose to do, but you don’t really understand what to do to make it happen. How do I show and not tell? It’s a lot harder than it sounds. Once you start writing that novel, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

There are 5 tools for showing:

  • Dialogue
  • Action
  • Interior dialogue
  • Interior emotion
  • Description-Sensory

If you’re doing anything that’s not one of these 5 things, you’re not showing.

Why is it so important to show versus tell? Showing provides your reader with a powerful emotional experience. If you want to be a best selling author, that’s what you have to do.

It doesn’t matter how great you do everything else in that novel, if you’re missing that emotional experience, you lose. If everything you do is bad, but you have a great emotional experience, you may still win.

It all comes down to the take away. Every great novelist will tell you, you have to give your reader that powerful emotional experience, or they wont be coming back.

Something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

Are You Providing That Emotional Experience?

Queries – You May Be An Amateur – But Don’t Make It Obvious.

imagesI have to admit I’m guilty of a few query don’ts. Okay, maybe a lot 🙂 I didn’t know any better. Like many of you, I just thought I did. You don’t know what you don’t know. I hope you are researching and doing your homework at every stage of the process. You don’t want to send out queries with the following blunders.

  1. Queries with typos in the first sentence.
  2. Queries that start with a nugget of wisdom: the submitter trying to be cute or philosophical. “Every step we take in life moves us in a direction.” Really!
  3. Queries that use very small type or brilliant colors in the background. Maybe if you add a fancy font it will jump off the page. Remember-the agent probably suffers from eyestrain. They live on the computer. Keep it simple-follow the rules.
  4. Queries with overcomplicated directions for replying. It’s great that you are confident you will receive a response, but the agent/publisher doesn’t want your travel plans. A simple street or email address will do.
  5. Queries longer than one page. Remember –  concise, clear, straight to the point. If you waste words and wonder all over the place during the query, the agent/publisher will think you do the same in your novel.
  6. Queries with more than one agent in the “To” line. Each query has to be individualized to the agent you are querying.
  7. Queries that start, “I know you receive hundreds of queries a week.” or “I know how busy you are so I’ll get straight to the point.” By writing this, you have already taken up a full sentence of their valuable time. Don’t state the obvious.
  8. Queries that make grandiose claims. My writing is comparative to Nicholas Sparks, or I would expect my novel to sell 150 million copies since that’s how many women live in the United States.
  9. Queries that state, “I worked very hard on this novel.” So! That doesn’t necessarily make it good.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Queries – You May Be An Amateur – But Don’t Make It Obvious.

What’s Your Biggest Obstacle?

signsmall_thumbI’ve stated in previous blogs, that there are a lot of reasons why your manuscript was passed over, and many have nothing to do with the manuscript itself, but I thought it would be nice to hear it from an agent.

You just submitted a query for an awesome piece of work. You’ve had several agents request full manuscripts and one even gave you a call, but just like that it was over. What happened?

You may have submitted an amazing piece of work, but the submission before yours hit the ball out of the park, and the one after yours did likewise. Those two works raised the bar and affected the impact you novel had on the agent.

Maybe you presented a very well written novel, but the market is saturated with the genre you are offering. Agents may have manuscripts for the particular genre you submitted on hold for the next few seasons.

You made it to the personal phone call. Where did you go wrong? Maybe you were missing the synopsis or logline for your next novel. Agents don’t want to just sell a book, they want to represent a career. Another guess would be that you were resistant to editorial thoughts presented by the agent.

The biggest obstacle one can have in getting a novel published is quitting. If you’re going to do a little bit right, have that little bit be the fact that you don’t quit. – Barbara Poelle, agent

Something to think about.

-Jan R

What’s Your Biggest Obstacle?

Third-Person

rsz_alternate_pov_showcaseI write in third person. It just comes natural to me. I like the ability to get into each of my charater’s heads at some point. Not all at once, mind you. That’s called head-hopping. Something I have been guilty of in the past. I use Shifting Limited? I never heard that phrase before. I just called it Limited, since I was in one head at a time.

Third-Person is an excellent choice to build suspense and create tension. Remember, If the POV character doesn’t know what’s around the corner, you don’t either. If the POV character trusts a person, that you have determined to be dishonest, the tension will build.

What are the different types of third-person narrative? Here’s a refresher for those who have been around the block a few times, and an enlightenment for the newbies.

Omniscient – This narrative is all-knowing, allowing the author to enter the minds of anyone they want. It is the preferred narrative in classic literature.  The works of Charles Dickens would be good examples.

Cinematic – The author describes events as impartially as possible. Consider yourself a fly on the wall. You see everything going on around you, but you can’t hear the character’s thoughts. Ernest Hemingway used this narrative.

Moments of high drama and physical violence, or the necessity to compress time are better served from this more distant perspective.

Limited – The narrative is limited to a single person’s perspective. If the character doesn’t know something, then the reader won’t either. This is the most prevalent approach to writing literature.

Third-Person Limited is much like First-Person with one crucial distinction. You aren’t trapped within the character’s perspective. You can look into the character’s head and know their thoughts and then back away when you would like to mute them.

Shifting Limited Or Multiple Limited – The point of view changes throughout the novel.  To avoid head-hopping, the point of view character should be limited to one per chapter,  scene, or some other easily definable chunk.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Third-Person

Query Do’s And Dont’s

imagesVJWWCJKOIf you’re a serious writer, or serious about becoming a serious writer, you probably know what a query letter is. In case you don’t, it’s simply a letter you would send to an agent or publisher requesting representation of your novel.

And while it is just a letter, it’s a very important letter that has to catch the attention of the agent it is addressed to and convince him/her that you have something to offer. It is your foot in the door that will hopefully make all your dreams come true.

When you have finished your masterpiece and are ready to pitch your work to an agent, remember, there are query do’s and don’ts.

Do

  • Check the agent’s or publisher’s website to verify contact information. You want to make sure your query get’s to the right place.
  • Play by the rules. The agency or publisher will be specific about what they want included and how they want it presented.
  • Track your submissions. You don’t want to send queries to the same agents every quarter. They notice.
  • Proof your email on different email services. As a test, you could send it to a friend or significant other to ensure there are no formating issues. I like the way one agent put it. “Your beautiful document could look like a ransom note on the other end.” I never thought about that 🙂

Don’t

  • Be coy.
  • Teasers don’t belong in queries.
  • Send anything to more than one person at the same agency. They talk and will find out. It makes a bad impression.
  • Send queries out to companies at large. Be specific in who your query is addressed to.
  • Follow up on an unsolicited query unless you think it didn’t arrive. If the agent didn’t respond, they aren’t interested.
  • Use a mass mail service or mass mail your own query. Keep it personal and individualized to each agent you send it out to. They are not looking for a generic letter. We all hate form letters.
  • Offer contrived empathy, such as “I know that you must be overwhelmed by submissions . . .”
  • Describe more than one project at a time.
  • Attach materials to your query unless specified by the agent your are querying.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Query Do’s And Dont’s