Pique Their Interest!

1e7cba28f25210164154825f3d16c176Ninety-nine out of one-hundred new writers make the same major mistake. I know I did.  They fail to plunge their hero or heroine into trouble at the beginning of the novel. If you don’t pique the interest of your reader from the start, they won’t make it through the first chapter.

This was one of the issues with my novel. It started out slow. I thought I needed to provide some background information prior to introducing conflict. If my reader would hold on for the first few chapters, they would get to an amazingly interesting story.

Well that might have been true, and I may have been exaggerating a little, but the fact that I failed to start the story with interest and intrigue, resulted in rejections of my novel.

Editors and agents are readers too. When they read your submission, they expected to be gripped and held within the first three pages. If you don’t grab them in that first one thousand words, your manuscript is tossed to the side.

What! You can’t believe they would do that? It’s a great novel and they just need to hold on a little longer. Well it may be a great novel, but they will never know. You have to start out with the good stuff and not expect them to navigate the swamp to get to it.

Published authors think it’s a mistake to believe you have three pages to get your reader’s attention. A wise novelist will approach each book with the goal of proving himself within the first page.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

 

 

Pique Their Interest!

Edit, Edit, or Edit?

 edit-icon-hi

I know I’ve posted this before, but it’s been a while, and I thought it was worth being revisited. When you’re a newbie like I was, you don’t even think you have to edit-much. The publishing company has people that will go through and correct your work, making you look like a pro, right?
About a year ago, I ran into an article in Writers Digest that talked about the different types of editing. Yes, there are different types, and as a novelist, you need to know what they are.

Developmental Edit – better known as the content editing, story editing, structural editing, or substantive editing. This edit looks at the big picture of your novel and focuses on:

  • character arcs/development
  • pacing
  • story structure
  • pot holes or inconsistencies
  • strong beginning, middle and end
  • plausibility/believability
  • clear transitions
  • point of view
  • showing vs. telling
  • dialogue

Copy Edit – is the one most of us think of when we hear edit. It is completed after the developmental edit and cleans things up. This edit is the line by line with a focus on:

  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • spelling
  • redundant words
  • inconsistencies/continuity errors
  • awkward sentence structure

The proofread- I never thought of a proofreader as an editor, but in all reality he is. The proofreader checks your manuscript for lingering errors, missed commas, and typos. It may be tempting to skip this step or do it yourself. Keep in mind, you’ve read the book so many times you will be blind to many lingering errors. You need an unfamiliar eye.

I’m not sure where you are in the writing process, but you do need to know the proper steps to take before submitting your work. Remember as stated above, you don’t see the errors. You are so familiar with your work the errors become invisible. Your brain actually fills in the holes as you read.

I didn’t have this information and submitted my work to several different agencies after I ‘edited’ it and had a few friends read through it. Needless to say I got nothing but rejections. I followed up on suggestions, and that’s when I realized just how bad the manuscript was. I couldn’t believe I sent such shoddy work to an agent. I was embarrassed and glad I hadn’t met the agents in person.

Hope this helped!

-Jan R

Edit, Edit, or Edit?

Five Tools For Showing

screen-shot-2013-11-20-at-3-24-03-pmSpoiler alert! If you were one of the eight people that read this blog two weeks ago, you are experiencing deja vu. I thought it was a good blog, but one thing I’ve learned over the last two years, is the title can make you or break you.

It was initially titled ‘Show Don’t Tell’. I guess that sounded kind of boring, or maybe just to repetitious. Goodness knows how many ‘Show Don’t Tell’ blogs are out there. So I’m reposting it under a new name 🙂

Here goes!

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrase-show don’t tell. You probably saw the title and questioned even reading this blog. Everybody knows you are suppose to show and not tell. 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 seems. 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 did 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

Five Tools For Showing

Strong Nouns?

scan0006We’ve talked about weak and strong verbs, but did you know the same holds true for nouns? I never really thought about it, until I took an online class that talked about strong and weak nouns. My first thought on weak nouns; the instructor has to be referring to pronouns. Well he wasn’t and that is a subject for another day.

Strong nouns can help us picture what/who the writer is talking about immediately. He doesn’t have to describe the person, place, or thing. We get it. The more specific the noun, the clearer the picture.

If I wrote city, dog, or car in a sentence, you would picture your version of a city, dog, or car in your mind. While these nouns aren’t bad they could be made stronger. An upgrade would be; New York City, German Shepherd, or Ford Mustang. While you may want to make that mustang candy apple red, it doesn’t need much more detail to get a clear picture of the author’s intent.

Names are also strong nouns. Cinderella, Clark Kent, and Harry Potter, all conjure up strong images in your mind.

Weak nouns require additional information to create a clear image in your mind.  The weaker the noun, the more information you will need to provide.

Most weak or dead nouns end in ‘tion’. Examples would be publication, devotion, recitation, adaptation.

These nouns tend to way your sentences down and as stated above, require more detail to produce a clear image. The best way to address these weak nouns, is to change them back into verbs, and rework the sentence.

The couple’s separation occurred at the end of the year.

The couple separated at the end of the year.

Just something else to think about while you’re writing that best selling novel 🙂

-Jan R

 

 

Strong Nouns?

How Do You Do It?

1b9274d0012bdfeccde1fef6c6e083deSo how do you do it? It’s so easy to write blogs on finding time to write, or finding motivation to write. All of the tips and recommendations sound great, until you’re in the same boat as those people you are trying to help.

I’m sitting here in my apartment of one week, following a move that seemed to take a month, and I just want to quit. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but a break would be nice.

In the past month, I have sold two homes, bought a really nice piece of property and parked in an apartment until our new home can be built.

If that’s not enough, my granddaughter is scheduled to be born (C-section), and I will be bringing her 3 year old energizer bunny brother back to our tiny apartment for the week. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I do love baby brother by the way. I’m just finding it harder to keep up with him 🙂

With all of this craziness, the one thing I know for sure, is I have to plan. When am I going to be able to write without distractions?

It’s Sunday afternoon and pretty quiet for the moment. The calm before the storm. With that in mind, I decided to take advantage of my free time and write my blogs for this coming week. Goodness knows I want have time when little man visits. I can put them in queue and post them on my scheduled days during the week.

Would love to hear from you. How do you do it?

-Jan R

How Do You Do It?

You Have To Make Time!

untitledI love reading Jerry Jenkins blogs. I always take something away from what he has to say. I don’t know that he offers anything different or new, it’s just the way he says it. I read what he’s written, and a light bulb goes off.

He offered some profound information in the last email I received, and I wanted to share it with you. First, he said we all make time to do what we really want to do. Then he followed that up with a comparison of make and find. You won’t ever find the time to write. We all have the same 168 hours per week. The only way to add hours to your calendar is to sacrifice hours from it.

In order to make the time, you must carve something else out of your schedule. It all starts with your priorities. How desperately do you want to write, finish a book, become a novelist?

Only you can determine your priorities. What are you willing to give up to pursue your dream?

TV?

Movies?

Parties?

Concerts?

Sports?

Hobbies?

Social Media?

Jerry Jenkins worked full time and helped his wife raise their three young sons. He wasn’t about to sacrifice his family for writing time, so he scheduled his writing from 9:00pm-12:00am.

What did he sacrifice? TV time, social gatherings with friends, and a couple hours of sleep.

What are you willing to sacrifice?

-Jan R

You Have To Make Time!

Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

imagesEX1UP1B8I’m preparing to send my manuscript out to literary agents again. This is the second time it is going out, the first time resulted in rejections, so I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive.

I saw a blog I had written almost a year ago and decided to republish it. It is exactly where I am right now and serves as a reminder to control my inner critic. You know, the one that tells you your work isn’t good enough or ready to be sent out. Most of us writers have one.

No one wants to be humiliated or rejected. Your inner critic will paralyze you by telling you just how bad your work really is (even if it’s not) .  Don’t listen!!! If you’ve gotten this far, you have hopefully addressed all areas that could be in question, and the novel should be pretty doggone close to perfect. If you haven’t done you due diligence and know your work has flaws, fix them before sending it out-common sense right.

I remember doing a Bible study on the battlefield of the mind. Though it’s primary purpose was dealing with spiritual warfare, it also related to many of the issues that we deal with in our everyday lives. Our mind is a battlefield. In writing for example, all of us worry about looking dumb and never getting published. Fiction writers make a business out of being scared, and not just looking dumb.

It took me six months from the time I started writing my novel, to tell my husband what I was doing. When I finally told him, I was a mess. I knew he would be excited for me and encourage me in my endeavor, and I didn’t want to let him down.

For the longest time I treated my novel as a hobby. That’s not a mindset that will get you published. When I finished and sent it out to literary agents, I was more than a little anxious, but the first few rejections confirmed my beliefs. I just wasn’t good enough.

Note that I said, “I wasn’t good enough.” Well that’s not exactly true. The truth is the novel wasn’t good enough. The fact is, it was filled with grammatical and structural errors, there was some serious head hopping going on, and my on-the-nose writing was all but bringing the story to a complete halt.

I don’t know that the inner critic will ever go away. So how do you combat it? You keep moving forward and growing in your craft. Don’t stop writing. I still question my novel, but I know, that I know ,that I know, that it’s a lot better than it was after the unofficial first draft. I’ve learned the hard way and hope you avoid some of my pit falls.

-Jan R

Don’t Believe Everything You Think!