Monday, November 1, 2010

Writer Angst Part 1

    As hard core as our plots can be, or our characters all knowing, all writers have, shall we say... a wimpy side.

    The act of writing a novel, submitting for publication, then review, can be a masochistic endeavor. The best and worst novel to write is the first. Easy to write because it lacks pressure, and you can still be naive about the publication process. The nervous tremors begin when you start searching the Internet for "How to get published" articles. Part one is about the Debut Author.

     If any author, EVER, didn't say or think, "That will be easy" or "How hard can that be?", when they first heard or read the words "Query Letter", has to be a liar or from another planet (Where queries aren't allowed). This is where I add a piece of advice for a beginning author:

    "Resist, avoid, deny, the query letter from your world till you have COMPLETELY finish your manuscript." Hell, even block the word Query in your search browser. This is the point where you first come in contact with what I will call "purpose diffusion". Your purpose is to write a great book at this point, period, not add to the things you need to do later. Concentrate on the work, edit like the wind, and move on to publication worries later. Trust me. There is a limbo in the unpublished author world, where the souls of writers are suspended forever... writing query letters, over and over again. Their fellow "limbo-ites" offering heartfelt advice in the quest for the perfect letter. All the while, their manuscripts sit, because a new writer has come to the conclusion that, "why can't I write a query letter, when I've written words numbering in the hundreds of thousands, but these 250-odd words fry my brain?" It will too. Ground Hog Day lives in the query letter maelstrom.

   Editing, for me, is the toughest part of writing. The toughness starts when you learn about WORD COUNT. At first, you will have a few moments of, "They don't mean me?" People want THE WHOLE STORY, right?Then you will find article after article that re-affirms the publishing world's preference for brevity. You will learn it has to do with printing cost vs return on investment, shelf space in stores and even cast the reading public as having shortened attention spans. Some agents will have different views. Nathan Bransford , for one, is not intimidated by manuscript length, though "The Swivet" has a closer handle on agent's general opinions. I'll stop here about editing because my left eye starts to twitch at the thought, but I will offer this advice to make it easier:

    Have someone else (that means other than YOU) read your work out loud while you listen. You will hear what I call "Bump Sentences". You will hear it, as your friend reads, where something isn't right or awkward. Sure, you could read it out loud yourself, but if you have been pouring through your work, over and over again, you may miss what fresh eyes won't. Plus, it's fun to hear your words out loud and how people in general try to read with an audience. You will hear any confusion in their voices too. A good hint that something needs another look.

   This is memory lane for most authors. There will be some that deny a state of anxiousness ever existed. Leave them be to their super-ego selves. This is the real world of a debut author we are talking about, so be as wimpy as you want...Just don't let anyone see it. Part 2 will focus on agents, editors, and blogs. Until then...