I Thought I Knew A Lot, Until I Learned A Little.

Enough already! At least that’s how I feel sometimes. I’ve been through my book more times than I can count. In my own defense, no one taught me how to write. I had a great story idea and decided to give it a whirl.

I thought it was ready, and then real life happened.  My wonderful work was rejected by the five agents I sent it to. One of the them must of seen something promising, she took it upon herself to provide me feedback about what I was doing wrong (there was a long list), and what I needed to do to improve my work.

I was totally humiliated. Grammatical and Structural errors are kindergarten stuff and completely unacceptable. Even I should have gotten those right. I could understand  my issues with head hopping and on-the-nose-writing. Those terms were totally foreign to me.  I wasn’t a professional novelist. I thought all you had to do was put words on paper and create a wonderful story that everyone wanted to read. How was I to know there were rules?

And what was the deal with dragging dialogue? My people were talking. How was I suppose to know dialogue moved the story forward, or had to have some significance?  I couldn’t believe I sent an agent such inferior work!

When you’re a newby, you don’t know how bad your work is, because you lack the knowledge and skills necessary to produce publishable work. While there may be a few prodigies out there, chances are, you aren’t one of them. Sorry!
Like myself and many others, you’re going to have to pay your dues and learn the craft. Then you will be ready to write that New York Times best seller.

One of my favorite saying is, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m not sure were I picked that up from, but it’s true. I wasn’t intentionally sending out bad work. I just didn’t know.

I Thought I Knew A Lot, Until I Learned A Little.

Don’t Make Your Reader Wade Through The Mud!

d63d56ca3a55bcf3abe7ed97f24b4eb0I picked up my first completed manuscript yesterday. It had been hibernating in my computer for almost a year. It’s a beautiful story, but for some reason wasn’t getting any traction. I have to admit, I was a bit discouraged. Something all writers go through at some point.

So I have to decide if the story is worth my time, or if I should put it on a shelf and move forward. I’m not a quitter. In all fairness, I can be pretty stubborn. That square peg will fit in the round hole if I push hard enough 🙂

The first thing I did was delete the first two chapters. I know that sounds pretty radical, but I decided to take my own advice. I’ve spent the last six years learning how to write a publishable novel. When I started writing this manuscript, I knew nothing, except I had a great story.

The first few chapters are hum drum everyday life stuff. I wanted my reader to have a little backstory, so when they got to the action, they would have a better understanding of what was going on and why my characters were acting the way they were.

According to Jerry Jenkins and other published authors, beginning with boring is not the way to go. As a matter of fact, it flags you as an amateur. You sprinkle those little details in as you go. I’ve known this for a while, but ignored their wisdom.

I thought the story was so good people would wade through the mud to get to the other side. Problem-people are not going to wade through the mud. They will never know how good your story is if you don’t get their attention from the get go. Solution-make sure the good stuff is up front and pepper the boring, but necessary details in when you can.

Just something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Don’t Make Your Reader Wade Through The Mud!

Are You An Opener Or A Finisher?(Repost)

Hare-and-Tortoise-300x156I read an article a while back that described openers and finishers. I had never really thought about it, though if I had to identify with one of the two, it would definitely be finisher.

An opener is someone with grand ideas, too many grand ideas. They get bogged down and jump back and forth between projects, never to finish one, or they allow themselves to become discouraged and quit before crossing the finish line.

A finisher as you may have all ready guessed, finishes what they start. They primarily stick to one project at a time and move at a slow consistent pace until they have completed their work or met their goal.

When I read this article, I couldn’t help but think about ‘The Tortoise and The Hare’.  The Hare was enthusiastic and fast but he allowed distractions(other projects for my analogy) to get in his way, and he looked for shortcuts to help him catch back up. Of course, we all know how that went.

The Tortoise on the other hand, stood at the starting line with one thing in mind, finishing the race. He didn’t try to take any shortcuts(which could result in inferior work). He was in for the long haul. He wasn’t giving up.

Since my adventure began six years ago, I have read numerous stories from well known authors about their journeys to becoming published.  The one common theme in all of their stories was perseverance. I put so much time and effort into my craft, I can’t help but feel discouraged at times. It helps and encourages me to know that I am not alone but in great company.

If you have a high quality, marketable piece of work, persevere, and you will eventually find an agent and get published. Kathryn Stockett wrote, ‘The Help’ over a five year period of time, then had three and a half years worth of rejections-60 in all. It was agent number 61 who took her on. The book spent 100 weeks on the best seller list.

The agent that took the time to work with me, always ended her critiques with don’t give up.

We all know who won that race. Are you an Opener or a finisher?

-Jan R

 

Are You An Opener Or A Finisher?(Repost)

Do You Wannabe?

booksWhen I first decided to write my novel, I was so excited. My thought was how hard can it be?  I had a great idea, all I had to do was get it down on paper. I’ve read a lot of books and my story was every bit as good or better than some of them.

So I wrote my first novel. It was over 90,000 words. I thought I did a great job conveying the gist of the story. I had family members read it, and they thought it was great. So I sent it out to agents.

Only one of the agents I submitted to responded with why my book wasn’t publishable. My dialogue dragged, I had on-the-nose-writing, and I was head hopping. Well what the heck was all of that suppose to mean. I didn’t realize there were rules other than grammar.

Well there are rules, and if you expect an agent or a publisher to take you seriously, you’d better learn them. If you haven’t heard the terms mentioned, I would suggest googling them. I have blogs that cover the highlights. Visit me as well, and I will give you the Cliff-notes version.

My initial thought after receiving the rejections, was to throw in the towel. I must admit, I was pretty bummed. I had worked on that manuscript for over a year, faced criticism from family and friends, and developed some unrealistic expectations along the way. But I am a wannabe, and I have no intentions of becoming a wannabe that won’t.

What are the main characteristics of Wannabes that Won’t?

They take their own counsel-That’s a nice way of saying they thought they knew it all. They convinced themselves that they were experts in publishing which led to numerous mistakes. One of my favorite sayings, is you don’t know what you don’t know 🙂

They go rogue-Instead of doing their homework and getting counsel from editors and others in the business, they plunge ahead, falling all over themselves. I’m guilty of this one. I took my own counsel. So I guess I’m guilty of the first characteristic too 🙂

They follow a trend-It takes more than a year to get a book to the market(traditional publishing) and that’s after you find an agent who sells it to a publisher. By the time the book is released the trend could be over.

They believe in overnight success-Overnight success happens about 1 in 1,000,000 times. When the wannabes synopsis or proposal isn’t received with enthusiasm, they quit.

They start their career by writing a book-This may be surprising, but it is highly recommended that you begin with short stories and articles. You have skills to hone and polish, and a quarter million clichés to get out of your system. Another thought is to start a blog 🙂

They are imitative-One of the most common traits of destined quitters is their attempts to imitate famous writers. They quickly grow discouraged and quit when they realize they can’t keep up.

Writing a novel that is publishable is hard work. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are no shortcuts. If you won’t to be successful, you have to learn your craft and not give up.

-Jan R

 

Do You Wannabe?

9 Out of 10 Wannabes-Won’t Be

When I first decided to write my novel, I was so excited. My thought was how hard can it be?  I had a great idea, all I had to do was get it down on paper. I’ve read a lot of books and my story was every bit as good or better than some of them.

So I wrote my first novel. It was over 90,000 words. I thought I did a great job conveying the gist of the story. I had family members read it, and they thought it was great. So I sent it out to agents.

Only one of the agents I submitted to responded with why my book wasn’t publishable. My dialogue dragged, I had on-the-nose-writing, and I was head hopping. Well what the heck was all of that suppose to mean. I didn’t realize there were rules other than grammar.

Well there are rules, and if you expect an agent or a publisher to take you seriously, you’d better learn them. If you haven’t heard the terms mentioned, I would suggest googling them. I have blogs that cover the highlights. Visit me as well, and I will give you the Cliff-notes version.

What are the main characteristics of Wannabes that Won’t?

They take their own counsel-That’s a nice way of saying they thought they knew it all. They convinced themselves that they were experts in publishing which led to numerous mistakes.

They went rogue-Instead of doing their homework and getting counsel from editors and others in the business, they plunged ahead, falling all over themselves.

They follow a trend-It takes more than a year to get a book to the market(traditional publishing) and that’s after you find an agent who sells it to a publisher. By the time the book is released the trend could be over.

They believe in overnight success-Overnight success happens about 1 in 1,000,000 times. When the wanna bees synopsis or proposal isn’t received with enthusiasm, they quit.

They start their career by writing a book-This may be surprising but it is highly recommended that you begin with short stories and articles. You have skills to hone and polish, and a quarter million clichés to get out of your system.

They were imitative-One of the most common traits of destined quitters is their attempts to imitate famous writers. They quickly grow discouraged and quit when they realize they can’t keep up.

Writing a novel that is publishable is hard work. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are no shortcuts. If you won’t to be successful, you have to learn your craft and don’t ever give up.

-Jan R

 

 

9 Out of 10 Wannabes-Won’t Be