Rushing To Get Published?

resumewritingoverusedwordsIf you’re new to the process, you’re going to make mistakes. I’ve made them all. Well, I haven’t tried to self-publish so maybe that was an over-exaggeration, but not by much:-)

Everybody wants to get published. Once my story was written, I didn’t hesitate to send it out. I knew it had a few grammatical errors. There’s no way you can catch them all. That’s what an editor is for – right? My story was so good, or so I thought, an agent would jump on it and make sure mistakes were corrected and it was ready for publication.

Well, that wasn’t exactly what happened. I’ve written numerous posts outlining the errors I made in that first very rough draft. When you begin your writing career, odds are you don’t know what you don’t know.

I received a rejection letter from every agent I submitted to with the exception of one, who I like to think saw a promising new author in that mess somewhere. She rejected my work as well, but praised what was right and pointed out what was wrong.

Her list was long and I was more than a little shocked once I realized how rough that first draft was. She used words like head-hopping, writtenese, and dragging dialogue. That didn’t even count the grammatical and structural errors. You know, the ones the editor was going to correct 🙂

Do your homework and remember, that the first draft is the first draft. Get it done, then get it good.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Rushing To Get Published?

Love, Joy, and Peace – Sounds Good, Reads Bad – Revisited

conflictI pray often for my home to be blessed with love, joy, and peace. For those who are wondering, it is. Who wouldn’t want a peaceful stress-free home environment, especially after a crazy day at the office?

However, I don’t want love, joy, and peace, in the novels I read. I want action, adventure, and adversity. Who wants to read a humdrum book about a couple meeting, falling in love, and getting married? That’s sweet, but it’s a little too sweet.

Without conflict, your story is going to be rejected. We all want the happily ever after ending. So make sure you have it, but it’s the conflicts and challenges your couple faces along the way that keeps your reader turning the page.

Keep in mind, conflict shouldn’t be something that shows up at the climax of your novel, you are going to lose your readers before they get that far.

Conflict should be evident in every scene and practically every page. It’s the engine that propels your story forward and keeps your reader engaged.

Most novels have one major conflict, but then each character will have one or two of their own conflicts. All of these conflicts go hand in hand to create an even bigger problem.

When you do introduce conflict,  it has to be a natural extension of your plot or your character. The conflict has to be something that prevents your hero or heroine from achieving their goals. It can’t be something you just magically pull out of the air.

It’s okay to have a flat tire or an unforeseen traffic jam that prevents your character from making that all-important meeting. Just remember, too many coincidences like these are not directly related to your character or plot and can sound contrived.

One flat tire is acceptable, but if you are going to have more, then you had better find a way to make it a part of your story. Maybe someone is purposely flattening the tires of the main character to prevent them from meeting their goal.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Love, Joy, and Peace – Sounds Good, Reads Bad – Revisited

Thursday Thoughts

resumewritingoverusedwordsDid you get rid of the filler words? Search for the words there, here, and it followed by a verb like is, are, was, and were. Those weaken your writing by diluting it and taking focus away from the object and often make your sentences longer.  Estelle Erasmus, Writer’s Digest

Examples:

There are many people who write. Vs. Many people write.

It was a great party.  Vs. The party was great.

Something else to think about.

-Jan R

Thursday Thoughts

Underlying Elements are Essential

flawopportunityThere are four main dramatic elements to your novel. You probably never thought about it, but if you did it right, they are there. If they’re missing, you need to revisit your work and make some adjustments.

That’s one of the nice things about writing. Nothing is set in stone, and when equipped with time and knowledge, you can change anything.

So back to the blog and the elements that I was referring to.

  1. Passion – yours not the Novels. Write something that you are passionate about. If you’re not passionate, it will come through. What’s important to you?  What are you trying to get across? What do you want to be the takeaway?
  2. Theme – what your reader takes away from reading your story.  Yes, the theme and passion can be the same thing and probably are in a great many cases. Examples of theme would be, belief in yourself or all things work for the good of those who serve the Lord. 
  3. Flaws – your character must have flaws. They don’t have to be exaggerated or grotesque but face it, nobody is perfect. Talk about a boring read.                                  The flaw could be as simple as a lack of confidence or the inability to put the past behind them.  The character doesn’t have confidence,  so the theme would probably be, believe in yourself. Note how they can work hand in hand and build on each other.
  4.  Premise – What if a (flawed character)(encounters some problem) and had to (overcome the flaw) to (solve the problem). You know your story. Fill in the blanks. Does it make sense? Is it enthralling or boring?

One of the things that the agent wrote to me after rejecting my work, was I had a great premise. It was a silver lining to a dark cloud that sprung up after the initial shock of being rejected. And while I thought the passion and theme were there, my characters were not flawed, which means that my passion and theme were probably weak.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Underlying Elements are Essential