Sunday, July 12, 2009
We’re all dying. We’re all running out of gas, and the full manuscript policy makes no sense. While spending years (in many cases) working on a full manuscript, the unpublished writer isn’t honing the craft, really isn’t learning how to make the book better. He’s just learning how to get to the finish line.
He’s proving he’s serious and dedicated enough to finish a book. And by the time the manuscript is submitted, years have passed. And this is the point where he hears the bad news, the crushing news.
Truth is, a story can be evaluated pretty accurately in 30 – 50 pages. That’s because those early pages are some of the most important pages in the book, and also the most difficult to write. And 25 pages is approximately the spot where agents, editors, and judges stop reading if the material isn’t working.
I would like to see more agents accept fifty pages of material. I’d like to see this broad rule of full manuscripts disappear.
Demand of a full creates a misconception and skews the writing process. The goal becomes the full, not the craft. When writers finish that last page, they’ve accomplished what they set out to accomplish. And one, two, three years have passed while they toiled away in their cozy little bubble. Now it’s time for the material to go out, and they soon discover that it’s not going to sell. For many, the journey stops there. Time is up. Some might go through this process one or two more times before calling it quits. All the while the clock is ticking.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
So the Kindle thing ended up being kind of a bust. I think with conversion software it would be a lot easier, but I haven't been able to find any such software that runs on a Mac. It seems the only way to end up with correct indents (even when everything looks fine from my end) is by adding html to entire manuscript, or by hiring someone else to format. Someone who can run conversion software.
I hope the time spent editing wasn't wasted. Even before wrapping up the edit of Bad Karma, I was questioning the wisdom of putting it on Kindle. Right now I've scrapped the Kindle idea completely and am talking with an ebook publisher, so we'll see what comes of that.
As far as Kindle goes, I would say if you have a Mac, or know nothing about formatting, hire someone to convert your material and expect to pay a minimum of $200.00.
In the meantime, I'm making my nonfiction visible again on this blog. Still can't decide what to do with it!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Someone asked me to put together a little advice for new writers. I've been doing some freelance editing, so I decided to address the problems I see on a regular basis.
There are so many how-to books out there. We've all read them. Turned down corners, highlighted important stuff. Read the books more than once and committed some of it to memory. And yet again and again I see writers making the same avoidable mistakes.
*Failure to establish character goal and motivation right out of the gate. This is very basic story structure, and yet it's often ignored.
*Failure to set up conflict in opening pages, failure to stick to the conflict, failure to ride it through to end.
It's not enough to have interesting characters, amazing descriptions, beautiful prose. Give your story a strong foundation and let reader know protagonist's goals and obstacles within the first few pages. I'm not saying this is the only way to write a book, but adhering to traditional structure will increase your odds of selling.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Once Upon a Crime: An Anthology of Murder, Mayhem, and Suspense Nodin (Baker & Taylor, dist.), $16.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-932472-85-1
From Publishers Weekly:
The warmth felt by the contributors toward the Minneapolis mystery bookstore that gives this all-original anthology its name is shown in the high quality of many of its 24 entries. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith who haven’t encountered Michael Stanley yet will be grateful for the introduction after reading Stanley’s whodunit set in contemporary Botswana, “An Issue of Women and Money.” Anne Fraiser’s “Santa’s Little Helper” is a bit of a misfire, a very short procedural about the gunning down of a man dressed as Kris Kringle whose shock ending might have been more effective if the story had more meat on its bones. Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins offer a new wrinkle on the spoiled city woman stuck in the sticks in “Flyover Country,” with a foreseeable resolution that still packs a punch. Other contributors include C.J. Box, Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Sujata Massey and S.J. Rozan. (Sept.)
Friday, July 3, 2009
Three years ago I had the honor of co-hosting The Clarity of Night Lonely Moon Contest.
Some great writers have participated over the years, one being Jaye Wells, co-host of the current short-fiction contest.
from Jason's blog:
Compete for a signed copy of RED-HEADED STEPHCHILD. Compete for eternal bragging rights. Compete for cold, hard cash!! (Well, Amazon gift certificates...as good as cash.) $170 dollars in prizes will be awarded.
The contest will open on Wednesday, July 8th and will be open for one week. As with past contests, the limit is 250 words. Any genre or form is welcome so long as it is inspired by the "In Vino Veritas (Truth in Wine)" photo. Rules have been posted here:
CLARITY OF NIGHT