Posts Tagged New Author
Greetings lovely reader!
I’ve been building a query letter and putting the finishing touches on my novel for several weeks. Wow! What a challenge. Here I was, all excited to have my revisions completed and ready to query agents. It was all downhill toward the gravy train of publication.
WAS I WRONG
I wrote a query letter. And another. And then another. Still it wasn’t correct. One letter should be easy, right? I mean, two paragraphs that sum up the book in a tight, exciting package.
Ah, NO. Not easy at all.
However, I learned something very valuable in the process. Writing a novel is hard work. Sweet, immersive pain. Capturing the story is the easy part. Refining it for clarity is more difficult. Shrinking it into two paragraphs is tough – especially words designed to capture the attention of an agent.
I did it, though. After three weeks of intense concentration and refinement, I completed a set of paragraphs I’m proud to say should sell my story. Finally finished, I pulled up my list of potential agents and then…
1-2 PAGE SYNOPSIS REQUIRED.
Ah, Christ! I’d completely forgotten about that. I had an outline, but it was pre-book – written before I began the novel. Now, I had to go back and summarize the entire book into two pages or less. Needless to say, I had a mountain of work to complete. With the submissions no longer ready, my excitement drained into the gutter like oily rainwater sliding from an asphalt parking lot.
However, I moved beyond and lifted my joy right back where it needed to be. My synopsis is almost done and then, if the Fates allow, I’ll be ready for submission. So, if there was one thing I’d offer that might help you on your own writing adventure, it would be this:
Rewrite your outline immediately after completing your first draft. 2-3 sentences for each chapter of your book. (I didn’t, by the way)
For my next novel, (yes, there will be more) I will do this. It shows where the plot holes are, what needs to be revised and how the story can be enhanced. THEN, when you’re finished, you’ll be well ahead of the game when it comes to writing a synopsis. It makes it easier, makes it more fun and you can take what’s most important and add the required emotions.
So there you have it, writing fans! I hope these thoughts will keep you from the gutter, soaking your faded glory in the dark depths of a rum bottle.
Fair Winds and Following Seas, my lovely readers, Wherever Your Horizons beckon!
Stephen R. Gann
Hello Lovely Readers,
It’s me, back again after a semi-long absence. But I was away on a most important, juice-squeezing quest.
As the title states, that’s what they’re all about. Getting the best from the best, then capturing it on paper.
I’ve just finished the 3rd revision to Beneath the Willows, my historical romance novel set in antebellum New Orleans. The story is strong, the pacing solid and the characters are happy. Which, of course, is most important as it was they who shared the tale with me in the first place.
And then there’s Frank and Francine – my ideal readers. They’re pleased as alcoholic punch. I even received a congratulatory post card from Frank’s vacation in the Caribbean. It was nice, as the picture was of him lifting a peach-colored, pineapple cocktail in toast.
So what have I learned?
Well, I’d have to say that the process of writing makes writing better. As I moved through the novel, I noticed a tighter and smoother flowing story the deeper I went.
The beginning was sort of rough, while the end was near polished and dynamically charged. Therefore, more work was needed in the beginning.
Which is perfect, as the beginning is what makes you, the reader, want to continue onward.
Next, I’ve realized that I’m cursed with repetitive words. You know, words that repeat several times until you’re repeating yourself over and over repetitively? Those.
Fortunately, it just takes a little squeeze of the juice, and they’re caught in the cheesecloth. Gone, though some slip through. Maybe they’re even tasty.
And finally, there’s death.
Some characters and side tales, while delightful and filled with color, simply. Must. DIE.
Gone. Tossed into the bin of irrelevant threads, where those story arcs we love must find their way. “Kill your darlings,” King says, and they are sweet. We adore them, fascinated by their stories as if watching a street busker juggle chainsaws. We’re sucked in, then lose our way. Probably a fiver, too.
They, too, get caught in the cheesecloth.
So there we have it, writing fans! A few thoughts on revisions, and how to get juicer juice from the pineapple juice. (I meant to do that)
Cheers, and until next time,
Fair Winds and Following Seas, my lovely reader, wherever your horizons beckon…
-Stephen R. Gann
Hello Lovely Reader!
Yes, I know. It HAS been more than 7 seven days since I last posted. Perhaps even… TWO WEEKS (insert dramatic music here).
I’ve been busy.
Stealing, in fact. or borrowing – depending upon which side of the fence you are. Frank prefers the dynamics of theft. More action oriented, dangerous-sounding – INTENSE. I mean, borrowing is so slow, long and passive. You can borrow a book, a lump of sugar or a sock. Well, maybe not A sock. Two would be better.
Woohoo! We’re onto something here. Call the police, summon the SWAT teams – raise an army! Highway robbery, carjackings, cat burglars and jewel thieves.
Perhaps a bit ‘too’ dramatic? ::nod:: But intrigued? ::shrug:: Maybe…
You see, for the past several days, I’ve spent my time stealing TRAITS: faces, nabbing names, wahooing gestures and looting looks. Filling my bags with all of those details that bring people to life, provide clues into their souls and gift us with knowing. It’s been an exhilarating experience, and believe me when I say that my bags are stuffed to the lip.
I was curious about something that I’d heard from a friend of mine when she described another person. As we stood at the helm of a hostess desk just inside a Mexican Restaurant in Vancouver while waiting to be seated, I overheard my friend tell another friend about someone who was “Filled with Joy.”
It certainly sounds amazing, right? Who wouldn’t want to be filled like that?
But here’s the question: “How do you KNOW that someone is filled with joy?”
Really take some time with this one, because it’s what brings your story to life. How do you know? Most people go into feelings of some sort, while others might describe it conceptually. However, if you were to imagine yourself sipping coffee at a cafe patio, watching someone walk down the sidewalk filled with joy, how would you describe it?
It’s those sort of details that I’ve been stealing. I watch people stroll the streets, give them states and describe those states in such a way that my readers can really experience that state as if they were there.
So see? Stealing is GOOD and that’s okay. Theft is good as well, much better than borrowing. Be a trait thief, and steal some images – bringing your characters to life. It’s intense and your readers will thank you.
Until next time…
Fair Winds and Following Seas, my lovely reader, wherever your horizons beckon…
Stephen R. Gann
Hello Lovely Reader!
Good morning, good evening and good night. It happens to be morning here.
This will be quick, maybe, since the idea just appeared and demanded to be released. No pills required, just write this blog, and ‘poof!’ there it goes into the nether world for you to enjoy.
Amazing how that works.
I ‘may’ have touched on this before, but I feel the need to do so again. Yesterday, I wrote about being in the flow. Like a raging river of ideas roaring past in surging, whitewater rapidity. I also mentioned writer’s block (or maybe not. ::shrug::), which so many people discuss as being problematic.
Here’s how I see it: You can sit by that torrent and hope to be splashed with an idea. That’s writer’s block. Maybe, if you get close enough, a salmon will leap out and land in your lap. Then you have a winner. However, the wait might be a V E R Y long time. Do you know what the odds are of a salmon leaping from a river to land in your lap? No? Well, first you have to be NEAR a salmon river. Second, there actually has to be salmon in said salmon river. And third…. well, I’m getting a headache trying to imagine it.
Simply step into the water, into the flow and let it carry you away. Sounds nice right? trust me, it is.
Now here is the key point. Pay attention, because the current’s swift.
Last night, the topic was “then what?” Asking questions around then what to move your outline forward. However, for it to be truly powerful, for it to flow, you have to imagine the scene AS IF you were there.
Catch it? Slippery as a salmon in a raging river.
Imagine for a moment, that your notebook, laptop, tablet – whatever medium you use to capture your ideas, is a portal to the world/reality in which you are writing about. That this world/reality actually exists, and when you put pen to paper, fingers to keys, you are stepping into that world.
As you do so, imagine AS IF you were there. What do you notice? what do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? What if you were to imagine AS IF you were the main character? Where are you? what are you doing? How do you feel? How do you KNOW all of this?
Trust what comes and capture it. Don’t wait for the salmon to jump into your lap. Instead, go swim with the fishes.
AS IF = FLOW
This is where the magic lives.
Fair Winds and Following Seas, Lovely Reader!
Stephen R. Gann
Hello Lovely Readers!
I’ve officially passed the 1/4 completion marker on my novel and pushed on to 28K words. I will hit 30K by tomorrow with the end goal being 100K. I can’t explain how, nor why I’ve been able to pump out so much, but suffice it to say that I am quite pleased.
When in flow, do not question it’s origin.
Speaking of flow, I have to admit that the very thing I pushed myself away from on a previous project, I actually DID on this one:
No, not the I.i. A.a. type of outline. That’s like beating me in the head with a baseball bat. The mere THOUGHT of it locks my world into a procedural nightmare from which there is no escape; the eternal pit of writer’s block damnation. It even makes Frank spill his coffee. And that’s worse.
Besides, he hates em, too.
HOWEVER, lovely readers, I found a way that worked for me, which is why I write this blog tonight:
Outlines – paragraph style . Paragraphical outlines; My word.
It came to me one morning while sharing coffee with Frank. It was a nice, sunny summer day in Vancouver just a few weeks ago. I had just sat down to write ‘something’, when Frank demanded a Romance. I’ve written about that already, so I won’t go into detail here.
However, once I chose to take the challenge, I wrote the opening line to The Willows and then heard my ideal reader ask, “Then what?”
Well, this lit me up. It’s the very same process I used to build my coaching practice. In fact, I like it so much I shared it with other coaches, too. Here’s how it works: you write out what it is that you do, then explain how you do it. Step by step, always asking, “Then what?” until there is no more ‘what’ left.
So, after answering Frank’s ‘then what’ question, I found that I had to explain my answer. Something like, “Tomas sits on the bench pondering his life, trying to figure out what he is going do now that his father has passed away and left him The Willows.”
“Then what?” Frank asked. I answered.
“Then what?” Frank asked. I answered, each time in the form of a small, descriptive paragraph.
“Then what?” Frank asked, sipping coffee and watching my creative juices overflow with excitement.
“Then what?” Frank asked, and I wrote, “The End.”
I leaned back, wiping sweat from my brow, and tears from my eyes. I lived the entire story in just under two hours, and the proof was there in a multitude of paragraphs. So much so, that I THEN wrote the entire ending to a book I had yet to write – only its outline.
And you know what? I think it’s pretty good.
So, in honor of Frank’s amazing question, I offer it to you as well. When deciding what you will be writing about by asking the magical question, “What if?” Why not follow it up with, “Then what?” and continue onward until you reach, “The End.”
Even better, especially if you are not a procedural by-the-book outliner like me, put the answers into a descriptive paragraph and see what happens. Who knows? You might just fall into the flow of creative juice and before you know it, be swept away into the magical land where novels live.
What if that were to happen?
Mhmmm. I Thought you’d like it.
Fair Winds and Following Seas, my lovely reader. Wherever your horizons beckon…
-Stephen R. Gann
Hello Lovely Reader!!!
Fifteen thousand words and climbing! Tonight, I should cross 20K and then, it’s on toward glory.
Frank’s tickled pink, I must say; pleased as punch and happy as a church mouse in the cheese wheel. Or any other happy-like cliche you wish to toss into the fire.
Suffice it to say, I am giddy, too. As well as change will allow me, that is.
Fantasy was tough. I loved it (still do), but connecting with the story was difficult for me. It seemed that for every step forward, I took two steps back trying to explain (and understand) what it was that I had just written. It was time consuming, and in certain moments, down-right misery. I love reading it, I am not so certain I care to write about it. At least not in the genre that it appears.
But Romance…. ::sigh:: For some reason of which I am not yet certain, stories have flown from my fingertips onto page like water from a fire hydrant. I am in the groove and feeling it, as if I’m living vicariously through my characters. The more I research New Orleans, the richer my words become, creating vivid images and characters for you to experience once completed.
So why the title, you ask? Is it the change from fantasy to romance that hurts?
Nope. It’s the changes one experiences in life through growth and new awareness. We exist in a state of change, though most of us fail to see it as it occurs. When we understand the truth behind the statement, “Change is inevitable,” we can more easily move through it by recognizing its existence.
That’s the theory, anyway.
Some changes take time to swallow, time to process and time to accept. What once seemed fair and good, now passes into shadow and memory – fading into the backdrop of life before disappearing all together. The music changes and a new dance begins.
Sit or twirl, that’s our choice.
I’ve chosen to Dance. I might step on some toes, bump a few people along the way – maybe embarrass myself from lack of ability. But, as a friend of mine recently wrote, “Life’s long if you wait to Dance.” How true…
Frank agrees. So long as it includes finishing this book. And it does, which makes him happy as a peach.
So, now that is off of my chest, I can get back to the project at hand: The Willows.
So until next time, lovely reader. I bid you goodnight and adieu!
Hello Lovely Reader!
Today marks a milestone on the highway to completion. Just this morning, while sharing coffee with my good friend, Frank, I crossed the ten thousand word milestone marker. All words for the novel which does not count historical reference material, outlining or backstory.
Frank is pleased. He especially enjoyed the coffee at Waves in Vancouver, my local haunt for the past two weeks. Every morning at 7:30am, we’d get busy. Well, I would get busy. He’d watch over the top of his mug as if expecting me to finish that very day.
It’s interesting how the vibrancy of an active city stimulates creativity. I’ve often wondered about that. Here, I was writing on an outside table while people walked by, cars roared and honked their horns and sirens blared. It did nothing to break the trance of creativity. I might offer that it helped.
What’s interesting about being out in public, is that I pick up bits and parts of people to mix into the character slush. What comes out are uniquely designed beings that live life on the pages that I write – filled with life and color. This is especially true of the heroine, Simone Plachette.
Two people especially contributed to her beauty, and one loaned me her name – all of whom shall remain nameless until we roll credits. I imagine they’ll come to know who they are if they read the book, perhaps even pick up a few hints along the way. Maybe it will make them smile.
Speaking of smiles, Simone has the brightest you could ever imagine. It not only lights up her face, it brightens her eyes to the point of radiance. When characters experience it, they find themselves uplifted – like being smiled at by an angel. You don’t forget.
Difficult to describe, it’s so easy to see.
Frank likes this, too. Being able to really SEE a character keeps him enthralled and wanting more. A good thing, I think.
What he also wants is drama. Lots and lots of drama. The type that people pay big money for at the box office, while real life lovers try to avoid like the plague. It’s also good for books. EXTREMELY good for Romance novels.
So, where does one find drama? Look no further than Frank.
My dear, beloved ideal reader brought it right to my doorstep and let it loose. Sunday, while out for drinks (he still had coffee, which baffled me), he carefully unfolded drama on the table and allowed it to dance.
Who knew Frank could be so helpful? I mean, I could have easily created something from scratch, maybe even imagined it while sitting at the table on Robson Street in Vancouver. A blueberry muffin on one side of my Surface, a maple machiatto on the other. Easy, right?
Nope. That’s not what Frank wanted. And we all know that when Frank wants something, he wants it done right.
And man, did he deliver! He gave me so much juicy stuff, that I’ll not sleep well for days trying to decompress from his gift. And that STILL might not be a short enough time to recover. Frank has certainly done a number on our New Orleans lovers, I can tell you that. Simone and Tomas are in for a treat, and after this, they might not ever talk to me again because of it!
However, so long as they still talk to one another, then that’s all that matters. Maybe by the ending… just sayin’ ::wink:: ::wink::
Of course, I won’t get into the details. You have to read the book to learn that. But suffice it to say, it’s pretty good. Or bad, depending upon your point of view.
So there you have it. As promised in the title, Drama galore. A gift from Frank, light bless his over-caffeinated soul.
So until next time, lovely reader:
Fair Winds and Following Seas, Wherever your horizons may beckon you…
Why this Blog ExistsOne niche of my coaching practice revolves around providing support, guidance and confidence for new and emerging writers.
There's something about working with people involved in such a solitary creative endeavor that I find completely delicious!
So, after deciding to write a book of my own, I hired a coach. I'm creating this blog to document the experience of an emerging author, what it;s like to be on the other side and provide a few coaching tips for others.
Have fun, enjoy the ride and please feel free to comment. My in-box is always open.
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