Narrative Versus Exposition-They’re Not The Same (Revised)

NARRATIVE4I remember when I first started taking my writing seriously. I did a lot of research and read a lot of information on how to write a publishable novel. Somewhere along the way, I missed the part were narrative and exposition were not the same. As a matter of fact, I used the two interchangeably.

In response to one of my earlier blogs, a fellow blogger commented that she thought I was wrong in reference to a statement I had made concerning exposition and narrative. She, of course, was right, and as a result, I took a closer look at these two concepts.

Narrative

  • Narrative is your voice as the writer sharing information with your readers.
  • It tells the reader instead of showing.
  • Narrative lets you set the scene and give background information.
  • Used for transitions, it moves the reader from one scene to another.
  • It slows the pace.

Exposition

  • Exposition provides the detached, third-party perspective on a story.
  • Shows the reader what is happening, doesn’t tell them.
  • Uses description to inform and move the story forward.
  • Exposition gives the reader more information, more emotion, and helps with active scenes by quickening the pace.
  • Allows us to hear character thoughts.

In a nutshell, narrative is telling, exposition is showing. I found the following example during my research and thought it did a good job of showing what I am trying to explain.

Exposition: Brian stopped and reached into his pants pocket. He pulled out a lighter. Then, he reached into his lapel pocket for his pack of cigarettes and took one out. He placed the cigarette between his lips, cupped his hands, and lit it. After putting his lighter back in his pants pocket, he resumed walking.

Narration: Brian stopped to light a cigarette and resumed walking.

So much info on this subject. It still can be confusing, and it seems everyone has a different opinion. I would encourage you to do your own homework and think twice about using the two concepts interchangeably. They are not the same.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Narrative Versus Exposition-They’re Not The Same (Revised)

Friends Are Friends – Not Editors

download (3)In a recent blog, Maybe You Should Consider Biting The Bullet!  I talked about my experience with agents and my journey towards getting my book published. Needless to say it was disheartening. The response I got back, was it just wasn’t ready.

I thought about using an editor in the past, but didn’t really think I needed one. I’m very bright. I know how to read and work things out, so why should I  pay someone to edit my book for me?

I had friends read my work and point out mistakes.  After all, everybody knows you need another set of eyes besides your own. You are so close to your work, and have reviewed it so often, the mistakes are all but invisible.

If you have a friend that’s trained and knows how to review and edit manuscripts, that’s awesome, but most of us don’t. Those wonderful friends of ours who have volunteered their time, can read our work, and say yay or nay on the premise. They may catch a couple typos, misspellings, or missing commas. They may offer a suggestion or two to make the story a little more interesting. But it’s not fair or realistic to expect them to churn out a publishable piece of work.

I tried this route for years. I would get friends to read, go in and make the corrections they suggested, along with the ones that I found while making their suggested corrections and would send it in again.

As you probably guessed, it still wasn’t ready. It wasn’t until I got the chapter back from a professional that I realized why the agents, who took the time to comment, were saying it wasn’t ready. It wasn’t.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Friends Are Friends – Not Editors

Do You Have Rewrite-itis?

I got tickled when I first saw this word. I have to admit, I have dealt with rewrite-itis. What is it? It’s a severe condition that effects both published and unpublished writers according to The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel. It means your are unable to call a book, chapter, or even a scene finished. So what causes the condition? A fear of failure or success. For me it is definitely failure.

What are the symptoms?

  • Rewriting the same scene, chapter, or book more than ten times
  • Never finishing a book, because you keep going back to polish the first chapter
  • Constantly having others read your book with the hopes they will give you some revisions to do
  • Taking your finished manuscript to the post office to mail, only to return home with it in hand for further revision

So what do you think? Do you have a case of rewrite-itis?

Rewrite-itis has a close cousin – Research-itis. Maybe you have that one too. True research is crucial to any novel, but an author needs to know when to say “Enough is enough.”

So what is the cure? Set goals and deadlines and stick to them. Remember your manuscript is your baby, but sooner or later you have to turn it loose.

Just something to think about.

-Jan R

Do You Have Rewrite-itis?

Are You Giving Your Reader What They Want?

Book imageSpoiler alert! If you were one of the eight people that read this blog following its previous publication, you are experiencing de ja vu. I thought it was a good blog, but one thing I’ve learned over the last few 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 decided to repost 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 understand the expectation, but you don’t really know what to do to make it happen. How do I show and not tell? It’s a lot harder than it seems, or if you’re an overachiever, you’re thinking it’s a lot easier 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

Are You Giving Your Reader What They Want?

Perseverance Is The Key!

Cb3l1HoVAAEOgtTI wrote this blog a few years ago, but for you newbies who haven’t been around that long, I thought it was worth another go round. Hope this offers some encouragement, and a reminder to never give up. For those like myself who have walked around the block a few times, I hope this puts writing into perspective for you as well. I know how easy it is to become discouraged.

I received two rejections this week, and while they were nice well written form letters, that’s what they were. You know the ones that thank you for considering their agency, and assure you that they will give your work a thorough going over before they make a decision. And then they add, if you haven’t heard from us in two weeks, assume we are not interested, and your work isn’t a good fit for us…

I have to admit besides being a little disappointed, I was skeptical and mad. I’ve put a lot of work into my manuscript. I’ve edited so many versions, that it doesn’t even look like it’s former self.  It really is that much better than the original completed work. So what’s the problem?

I’ve heard over and over not to take it personal. It’s business, and truth be known, it may have nothing to do with your manuscript. If there are no obvious flaws with your work, send it out to other agents. Just because you were rejected by one agent, doesn’t mean you will be by the next.

The New York Times best selling author of “The Help”, was rejected by 60 different agents. You read that right. Her 61st attempt was a success. The book was on the best seller list for the entire year and eventually made into a movie.

So why do books get rejected?

Maybe your manuscript just isn’t ready.

  • The author can’t format, spell, and doesn’t understand grammar. The result is  incomprehensible sentences that leave the reader confused, pulling them completely out of the story.
  • Dragging dialogue, head hopping, poor character development, plot holes, info dumping…
  • Maybe your work isn’t that bad and with competent editing, it’s publishable. Staff editors don’t have the time and sometimes don’t even have the necessary experience to clean your work up. Hire an editor before you send your manuscript out for consideration if self-editing isn’t an option.

Maybe your manuscript is ready but….

  • The agent/agency has an abundance of the genre you just submitted, and they are not accepting anything new in that genre until their inventory decreases.  You really weren’t a fit for what they were looking for.
  • Maybe the agent/publisher reviewing your work is in such a bad mood, they would turn down  Nicholas Sparks “The Notebook”,  even if it was handed to them on a silver platter – twenty four did. Agents make mistakes.
  • Maybe the storyline/subject matter you’re writing about isn’t selling right now. Zombie books are getting old. People want something new.
  • The publisher could literally be in a cash crunch, and no matter how great your book is, they can’t purchase it right now. They have a freeze in place until some books start selling, and they can build up their reserves.

What I’m trying to say, is there are a lot of reasons books get rejected, and they may have nothing to do with your work. I’ve read more than once, that perseverance is the key.

If you have a great, publishable piece of work, don’t give up, submit it to other agencies for review. If you have less than perfect work, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Don’t expect someone to fix it for you. They won’t.

Don’t give up!!!

-Jan R

Perseverance Is The Key!

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things :-)

imagesJO883V0VWhat are your favorite reference books on writing? We all have them. I learned following my first very rough draft,  that I didn’t know a thing about writing a publishable novel. I thought I did, but the rejections and the one agent who responded set me straight.

Like many of you, I learn from my mistakes, but I am totally hoping I can keep some wannabees from making the same ones that I made.

If you follow me, you know I’ve said many times, ” You don’t know what you don’t know.” So needless to say, I began to research various sites and successful authors. I had to learn how to write a novel.

This led me to three of my favorite resource books.

  1. The Elements Of Style                              William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
  2.  How To Write Best Selling Fiction       Dean R. Koontz
  3.  Eats, Shoots & Leaves                              Lynne Truss

I found The Elements Of Style and Eats, Shoots & Leaves at a library book sale. They cost me a dollar. Unfortunately, the Koontz book is highly recommended but nowhere to be found. I purchased mine from a dealer on eBay for $65.00. I do believe it was worth the price, but you can find all of the information contained in the book on the web.

I didn’t include the Dictionary or Thesaurus. I think they are a given.

These are a few of my favorite things. Yes, I do like Mary Poppins 🙂

-Jan R

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things :-)

What’s Your Biggest Obstacle-Revisited

signsmall_thumbWriting can be both rewarding and frustrating. I’ve been around the block a few times and have had my share of rejections. Don’t judge me, get used to it. If you are out to write that best selling blockbuster, and I’m cheering for you, you’re going to have to develop some tough skin.

I’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-Revisited

Speculative, Upmarket, Dystopian?

huhI’ve been reading literary agent biographies and blogs in an attempt to narrow my search and find a few I think would be a good fit for my novel.

While researching, I found myself going on-line and doing searches for words and abbreviations that were totally foreign to me: MG, Dystopian, MS, Upmarket, and so on. I guess I still have a lot to learn.

At any rate, I thought I could save you some time by sharing a list of not so common words and abbreviations that I found during my research.

  • MS:  Abbreviation for manuscript (the plural being MSS).
  • MG:  Middle grade-ages 8-12.
  • YA:  Young adult-ages 12-18.
  • NA:  New adult: features a protagonist 18-25 and focuses on the first struggles of adulthood.
  • Speculative Fiction:  Fiction that encompasses supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.
  • Upmarket:  Fiction with a commercial appeal (book clubs) particularly women’s fiction.
  • Dystopian:  A futuristic, imagined universe, in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technical, moral, or totalitarian control.
  • Literary Fiction: Serious fiction, style and technique are often as important as the subject matter.
  • Commercial Fiction:  Written with the purpose of attracting as wide an audience as possible. It includes westerns, romance, mysteries, and horror genres.

I’m sure I missed a few. Who knew there were so many different categories?

I guess I’m old school. In my day it was westerns, romance, mysteries, comedies, and horror. Oh yeah, you can throw children books and youth in there as well.

-Jan R

Speculative, Upmarket, Dystopian?

Are You Providing That Emotional Experience? (Revisited)

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 with the hero/heroine.

If you’re like me, you know what you’re supposed 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 takeaway. Every great novelist will tell you, you have to give your reader that powerful emotional experience or they won’t be coming back.

Something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

Are You Providing That Emotional Experience? (Revisited)

Writers Live The Life – Right? (Revisited)

read on beachMost people think writers live the life. Writers lay around in pajamas writing stories and making millions of dollars. They control their schedule, and of course, travel to exotic places all over the world.

I can picture it now. I’m sitting on a lounge chair, drinking a cold glass of lemonade, and looking out as the waves roll in before I turn my attention back to my computer and start typing my flawless manuscript. I can’t believe I got it perfect the first time 🙂

Only a handful of writers live out even part of that scenario, and that’s because they have become so successful they can afford to visit or live at those exotic places, and of course, sip their drink of choice while laying on the beach typing their next bestseller.

For the rest of us, reality is very different.  If you want to become a writer, it’s a tough road.  I wanted to take a few minutes to give you a reality check.  I have listed a few things a writer has to do other than writing.

  • Writers are continuously reading books in their genre and how-to books/tips on writing. We analyze what works and what doesn’t work. How can we use this information to improve our own writing?
  • Writers have to plan. What other books are we going to write? What’s next? We develop a strategy and create outlines for our books.
  • Writers have to do research, especially if the storyline takes place in a different time period or location that we are unfamiliar with.
  • Writers have to network. Someone’s eyes, other than our own, must read our work. This is accomplished through participation in critique groups and attending conferences.
  • Writers edit, analyze, eliminate redundancies, and then edit some more before they even send work out to critique groups.
  • Writers have to market and promote their work. Another reason to attend conferences. You will also find writers on Facebook, Twitter, and keeping up with an active Website.
  • Writers have to learn to accept rejection. Unfortunately, it’s a major part of the business. Writers receive many more rejections than acceptances.
  • Also just like everybody else, Writers live. They have families and many have full-time jobs.

So if you’re thinking writers live the life, think again. Writing has to be your passion. It’s the motivator that will get you through and ensure your success.

-Jan R

Writers Live The Life – Right? (Revisited)