Monthly Archives: June 2015

Agents Day!

Happy Agents Day to all the wonderful literary agents out there! And especially to my amazing agent, Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary.

I read these posts when I was looking for more info on agents, so let me tell you querying writers out there a few of the many things I love about Naomi:

Enthusiasm: Having an agent who is genuinely stoked about your work is the best feeling in the world.

Professionalism: I know I’m in great hands with Naomi. I can trust her with my book and my career without any worries or qualms.

Communicativeness: Naomi is wonderfully responsive, and has an uncanny knack for sending me updates and check-ins at the exact right time.

Creative partnership: Brainstorming with Naomi is awesome. She really GETS my book, and has the best insights for revisions and future directions. And when she’s made suggestions that didn’t feel quite right to me, and I’ve come back with “How about THIS instead?”, she’s always been like “YES! Even better!”

I could go on and on, but I only have a few minutes to make this post, so I have to stop there. Suffice to say, she’s AWESOME.

I’m so glad to have such a fantastic agent in my corner. Thank you, Naomi, for everything you do.

Write Like the Terminator

You want to get published? Here’s how: be like the Terminator.

The more time I spend immersed in the writing community, the clearer it becomes that a writer’s cardinal virtue is persistence. Many other talents, skills, and qualities will help you on your road, but it’s persistence that will get you there.

Anecdotally, it’s very common for the book that gets you an agent to not be your first novel. And it’s also quite common for the book that landed you your agent to not be the one that gets you published. Chances are strong you’ll have to write a bunch of books, each better than the last, before you write the book that lands you a deal. Even after publication, you are not immune to rejection, and there will likely be books you have to trunk and move on from.

This is why it’s so important not to let despair stop you from forging onward. Even if your beloved manuscripts fall by the wayside like cybernetic limbs blown off with an RPG launcher, you must stride inexorably onward—on fire if need be—your glowing eyes fixed relentlessly on your target. You load up your next ms like a fresh ammo clip, undaunted. You are an unstoppable force.

If you keep writing new books, keep improving your craft, keep learning and revising, keep submitting, you will prevail. It may take years or decades, but you’ll get there.

Because you are badass.

Now go write.

Questions to Ask During Outlining (or Revision)

I’m working on a new outline now for my restart of my WIP. For every scene I add to my outline, I’m asking myself these questions:

What changes in the scene? – If nothing is really different at the end of the scene than it was at the start, I probably need to cut the scene or combine it with another one. This question helps me catch “show the status quo” scenes or “establish the characters” type scenes that don’t add anything to the story.

What is at stake in the scene? – One of the big reasons I’m rewriting my current WIP in the first place is that I realized while plenty was happening in the first 15K words, and my characters were learning things and doing stuff, they didn’t really have strong personal stakes yet. It doesn’t matter how action-packed a story is if the characters don’t have deep personal reasons to care about what’s going on.

What will keep the reader compelled to read on at the end of the scene? – This should be an exciting question or situation they want to know more about, and it can’t be the same thing scene after scene. I need short-term dramatic pull to get them to turn the page and start the next chapter as well as an intriguing overall arc.

Does the emotional tenor of the scene follow from what happened just before? – If I murder someone’s parents in Chapter 8, they shouldn’t be chatting about boys with their BFF over cannolis in Chapter 9. But it’s way too easy to do this by mistake.

Is the one-sentence description of the scene similar to that for another scene? – For example, in the outline I’m working on, I had two scenes where my outline description was basically “Character A confides in Character B, and Character B encourages Character A.” Same two characters. When I catch this kind of thing, usually I combine the scenes into one.

It’s easiest to ask these questions at the outlining stage, because then I can catch problems before I write the scenes and save myself work. However, these are also questions I try to ask myself during revision (especially if I’m looking to cut wordcount). If I’m honest with myself about the answers, they’ll catch a lot of problems for me.