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I don’t know why we call it rejection. That’s so harsh. I got a (very polite) form letter, but I believe what it said: that agent just wasn’t a good fit for my story. She had written last October that she might not take on any new sci-fi as the sci-fi market is saturated with dystopian right now. My story is more fantasy than sci-fi, but it does have sci-fi elements. I just really liked that agent and thought I would give it a try. I know my writing is good and that I have a compelling story to tell. Not to say I won’t do any more revisions–I know agent and editor revisions are part of publishing. But I also know the story is ready to shop around.

So, one agent down, ninety-nine to go.

Writing the Synopsis to Find the Heart of Your Story

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I did what I imagine most people do, and I waited to write the synopsis until I was almost done with the book. After all, until I was ready to market, I didn’t need a synopsis, right? Well, I discovered that in honing my synopsis I actually learned more about my story and what the heart of the story was. I would recommend writing a synopsis somewhere in the middle of drafting, when you know the story well enough to have an idea what the theme/core/arc is but before it’s to the point you won’t want to revise if you discover the arc is different than you thought.

I have about 50 synopsis drafts. About half of those are full-on, start-over drafts and not just revisions. The first drafts have a lot of setting and back story. The middle drafts are focused on what I call the external plot—the events of the world. Finally, my last drafts focused in on the internal plot—my character’s inner conflict. That was a challenge. My MC has a couple of inner conflicts, and I had to figure out which is the one that drives the story.

I also had trouble with making his story sound compelling. I think it’s super compelling and heartbreaking, but how to get that into one to two paragraphs and less than 250 words? The MC is a young man who just wants to be accepted for who he is. His whole life, he’s been told he won’t be accepted unless he is as great as his father. He finally thinks he has a chance to do both—to be like his father and to be judged on his own merits. But the man who gave him that chance turns against him. Super compelling and heartbreaking. Especially because I know all the motivations, ha ha. I hope that an agent finds it as compelling as I do!

(Alan Cumyn, I remember more about your lecture than the cheese sandwiches!)

Workshop Invitation

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A week after I submitted my query, I checked my email. I didn’t have an email from the agent, but I did have one from the event coordinator of my SCBWI chapter. She asked if I would lead a workshop this spring! I am so excited. I have wanted to lead some workshops or classes, and this is the push I need.

According to the theme, we’re supposed to include a creative life aspect. I am thinking of including art—drawing or painting or something. I’m an amateur artist, but I love to incorporate drawing into my creative process. I hope that I can do something with it that would be relevant to both PB authors and novelists. I’m contemplating storyboarding, but I’ve actually never done that, so we’ll see. (Unless you count the story being told in scenes drawn in detail over a couple of years as a storyboard.) Maybe we’ll do something on scenes . . .

Query!! (the longer version)

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I am officially in the business of getting published. I don’t say trying to get published because I am confident that at some point (it might take awhile), I will be published. :-D Last Friday, I sent my first query to an agent. I had thought I would be obsessive about checking my email and that I would be worrying every second of every day. Especially because the agent sounds like a really good match. To my surprise, I’m pretty calm. Maybe it’s because I don’t know of anyone who signed with the first agent they queried. I am checking my email every day, just in case.

And I know, I should be submitting to multiple agents. I will. I just have to research some more first. I am so very, very happy about having a decent query that I just had to send it off right away. I hope the query and first pages will touch someone because (of course, I’m biased), I think it’s a really good story that needs to be told. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have written it. But it isn’t just fun. It’s compelling. It makes me cry. And laugh. And that’s after 25 drafts. That says something, doesn’t it?


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As of a week and a half ago, I have submitted my first ever query to an agent! I am officially in the business of getting published. Wowee!!

I will post more when I don’t have to use the phone. :-)

Pretty Sentence

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In revision, I came across a pretty sentence that unfortunately alliterates. I love the imagery of this sentence:

Black smoke from its stacks stained the cerulean sky.

This isn’t a poem, so alliteration–especially accidental–isn’t a good idea. I really wanted to keep that imagery. Here’s how I revised it:

Black smoke from its chimneys stained the azure sky.

Not quite as pretty, but hopefully it still works.

The Chapter That Ruined Everything

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So I got through all the major revisions of the Epic Novel Part I. I’ve been doing one of the last read throughs checking for flow. Everything was going really well. A sentence here and there needed tweaking, but overall, the story works.

And then, I came to Chapter Eighteen. (da da DA!) I would really like to just forget about that chapter and its problems.

A) For the first time, the captured spies are mentioned. While not major characters, they are somewhat pivotal plot points.

B) For the first time, the enemy general is mentioned by name. He is pivotal to the plot and is a major character.

C) A critical conflict between the two POV characters is suddenly and unexpectedly centerstage after being mentioned only once in passing several chapters earlier.

Noooooo!!! I thought I was done with major revisions!

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