Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reinventing the Wheel...

I love getting feedback on my Twitter stream. It helps me know what you guys are needing and how I can help.

The only time I cock my head and go 'huh?' is when I get negative feedback about structure.

I mean, structure? Some people even say they don't 'believe' in story structure.

Um... ok, #awkward. Story has structure. Whether you wish to use it as a guideline is up to you!

Now what I think these people are trying to tell me is that they fear I am somehow hampering or squashing their own creative input.

That somehow I want to take away their creative license and flatten their story into a cookie cutter novel.

Not true!

First off if you are doing great, then ignore my tips. Most of my tweets are aimed at people struggling to write and need as many tools in their toolbox as possible to help them when they get stuck.

Second of all... I would respectfully ask you to simply think about whether or not you would like to reinvent the wheel.

Archetypes and the mechanism of the Hero's Journey are what makes a story universal. They are simply the underpinnings of EVERY great story. But the underpinnings only. The rest is up to you.

Simply when I was struggling with writing and writing every day and then writing well every day, I found structure to have my back. Even now, if I feel stuck, I simply look to where I am in the story, trace my archtypes and go 'Oh! Crap, I got lost in the plot and forgot about story.' This usually gets me back on track immediately.

So feel free to ignore my advice about story structure and archtypes. No hard feelings :-)
However, if in the dark of night you simply run out of gas and can't figure out how to get your Hero from the Tentpole to the Climax... go ahead and read my blogs about Act I, Act II, and Act III.

Don't worry. I won't tell anyone :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You are hosting a WHAT?

Yep, that's right. I have decided to take our relationship to the next level...


While I love the quick tips I am able to give out over the twitter stream, I have so much to say about so many subjects (as you could probably imagine).

So after we went live with the @indiebookibc radio show on marketing (if you have a blog and/or book - and everyone #should - check out the #IBC show as well for tips and tricks on how to sell your book), I thought, how perfect would a radio show be for my writing stream!

Our first show will air October 30th (this upcoming Saturday) at 2PM PST (you can sign up for an automated reminder for the show here). I figure what a great way to get everyone motivated and ready for their new writing week than on Sunday to get their booties kicked - I mean to hear some tough love... no, I mean to be embraced by warmth and light #ok #fine #Iammoreofawhipcrackingkindofgirl

Want to talk about your Hero? Great!
Need help with a plot point? That's what a call-in radio show is ALL about!

I am telling you if you like our tweets and our blog you are going to LOVE the radio show!

So click here to 'follow' the show and don't forget to sign up for Blog Talk Radio's automated reminder so you don't miss a word!

Can't wait to actually 'talk' to everyone!

#now #gowrite #Imaybeexcited #butIhaven'tlostmymind :-)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Year...

Another novel?

Unless you can answer yes to that, then go on with your day.

However, if you bow your head in shame and mumble 'no', you need to meet me at camera 3 (or if you don't watch Jon Stewart you can just read the rest of this blog).

Did you have hopes and dreams and aspirations of getting your first (or second or fifteen) novel written?

What happened? #no #seriously What?

Writing a novel is no big deal. I know, I know I can hear the wailing from here, but really if the task itself didn't seem so epic and your very soul did not hang in the balance, the actual physical act of writing a book is no big deal.

On average you need 350 pages (more or less for each genre). There are 52 weeks in the year. Just the simple math means that you just needed to write 6.7 pages per WEEK. Not day. Not hour. Per week.

That breaks down to less than a page per day.

I mean, come on. I know we get busy and life is hectic but less than a page per day?

Not that, that is doable.

As I have stated before, consistency is the key. Writing every day. Thinking, plotting, and editing becomes a routine part of your life. There is no more 'carving' out of time.

Why did I write this blog now? You know rather than Dec 31st?

Well because NaNoWriMo is coming up in November. It is an event where you write a book in a month. While it is not my cup of tea, it has helped jump start people by getting huge chunks of a book or a complete book done.

But what about it you can't throw your life to the wind for an entire month?

Just remember that 0.96 pages per day will get you a book in a year. 0.96 #totallydoable

Do you really want to be here next October having to hang your head in shame saying that yet another year has gone by without your book done (or marketed, but for advice on that head on over to @indiebookibc).

So for anyone not participating in NaNoWriMo this year, how about you accept a different challenge?

My 0.96 pages per day challenge.

For accountability please make a pledge down below in a comment. I will have a blog once a month to see how our 28.7 pages per month are going.

Don't let another year slip by! #duh

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Embrace the Journey

I am here to tell you a fact...

You will ALWAYS wish you wrote better. It doesn't matter at what level of success you are. Award winning. NYT Bestselling. Your childhood sweetheart finds you because of your book and falls madly in love.

You will ALWAYS wish... Damn, I wish I had turned that phrase better. Or I wish my characters had more depth. Or that final battle could have been more dynamic. Or my dialogue in that scene could have been crisper.

I have heard all those concerns from writers at every stage. No one is immune to introspection. And nor should we be. If we do ever get to the point where every word we write is golden... well... you know those authors and how badly their writing declines. #dontbuyyourownhype

My point though is, most writers feel that somehow they will reach a point in their writing where 'everything will be alright.' That somehow a magical moment will occur and everything you write you will be thrilled with (not to be confused with the truly magical moment you cross the 1,000,000 word threshold - check out my blog on that truly special moment).

So why not embrace the journey? Why not relish every moment you get to write? Whether you get to write well, poorly, or absolute crap? Why not just hug your inner writer and say 'job well done!'

Because it was a job well done (even if you delete every single character and then do a wipe of your hard drive to eliminate any trace those words were ever typed). You wrote. And the only way to become award-winning or best-selling is to write (check out my other blog "Writing Through It" for more help if you are struggling).

Every day you get to write is a great day. How about we all start to act like it????? :-) :-) :-) #notetoself

Sunday, October 3, 2010

If you are getting 100% Rejection Notices...

I hate to be the one to tell you, but it is guaranteed your query letter and first 3 chapters aren't strong enough.

I know, I know, there are some that are going to rail against such a notion, but as writers we must put aside our ego and our love for our project. We must listen to our audience and in this case our audience is the 50 agents you sent out to then subsequently rejected your work.

Now, your writing may be fine. It could be that you are sending out to the wrong agents. Your query may not 'sell' your project as much as you like. Or your writing just isn't 'there' yet.

No matter the reason for the rejections, you received them for a reason.

It is now for you to decide why.

Before we get much deeper into the causes I want to remind you I am on YOUR side. I want you to succeed. I believe in you. And I am here to tell you that rejection letters truly are a gift.

They cause us to reevaluate and really look at our work with fresh eyes.

The first place I want you to look is your query letter. A great query letter should get you about 10% response back to read the entire manuscript, or at the very least a nice note that they liked the work but it just wasn't there thing.

If you aren't getting 10% or more requests for more pages, then your query could be your problem.

Is it dynamic enough? Have you excited someone enough to read more? Are you knowledgeable enough of the market? Are you realistic enough that your work belongs in this agent's hands?

Your query letter is a MARKETING document. It needs to sizzle. It needs to excite. Workshop your query. With people who know your work (to make sure the letter is representative of your story) and people who are not. Did they 'get' it from a cold read.

Take in those notes from people. Punch the query up. Don't send a single one out until you are just blowing people's minds with your query letter.

Now let's say your query is rocking the house and you are pretty sure people are reading those first 3 chapters (and yes, I recommend you send them if they say they don't want them. Especially with digital queries, there is no wasted paper etc).

Again, this query/1st 3 chapters should get you about 10% requests for the whole manuscript.

So now you need to workshop those three chapters. Especially the first 3 pages. If you can't hook an agent, you won't be able to hook a book buyer or the public.

You need to let go of your 'baby' and get honest, constructive criticism. Are these pages not just publishable but do they scream 'buy me.'

Unless the answer is 'yes.' You are going to be waiting for that phone to ring... for a very long time.

Now what about the final category of people. Those that do get 10% or more requests for the full novel but then still get a final rejection (no matter how nice)?

Well, it depends on the reason. If you are getting specific notes back in your rejections that sound similar, then it is worth a re-write. If however the agent's notes are all different or you get back 'great work I just can't take you on right now," then you might want to look into self-publishing.

The number of books that actually get printed versus the number of great books out there is just a fraction. Digital eBooks are making up the difference.

Head over to @indiebookIBC if you are even entertaining