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Showing posts from October, 2008

Pounding out a manuscript (NaNoWriMo)

Tina asks me about my writing day and NaNoWriMo (just around the corner!)

The publishing industry in a disastrous economy

Agent Terry Burns gave a talk at the Glorietta writers conference on The publishing industry in a disastrous economy and it's really worth a read.

It's a bit sobering, but it's also got some solid advice:

I guess what I think it says is that we’re going to see a more cautious approach to acquisitions over the next months and see it taking longer to get decisions. The advice at the beginning of this talk to stay calm and have patience is appropriate. That gives us time to make that submission as good as possible, because the competition is going to be stronger than ever. Books that are simply “finished” won’t get it done, because the market is looking for books that are excellent. Should we quit writing and quit submitting? Of course not! Just keep doing business as usual . . . with a little more patience.

Thanks to agent Terry Whalin for the link to the article.

Setting the Stage in the First Page

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In this article, originally published on Suite101, I'm giving tips on how to plunk your reader into your story world on page one without confusing them or making them feel like they've been drop-kicked into an alien culture. This is important because you want to introduce the setting and make the reader feel at home, and often you only have the first page to do that. It's not impossible!

Immersing the Reader in the Novel Story World

Skillfully drop the reader into the setting of the story by intriguing them without confusing them.

The hardest place to set your reader down into your story world is the first page. But the reality is that readers in a bookstore and editors paging through thousands of manuscripts will usually only give you one page to catch their interest.

One page.

That first page must hook the reader and orient them in the novel story world without confusing them. It’s a tall order, which is why it’s best for novelists to spend the most time revising your f…

Crafting a Riveting Opening Hook

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In this article, originally published on Suite101, I'm breaking down a good opening hook into four types of hooks. Does your opening hook fall into one of the four categories?

Grabbing the Reader’s Attention From the First Paragraph

A novel needs to start with something so captivating that the reader is compelled to move on. This is called the Opening Hook.

These days, the Opening Hook is important not just to hook readers, but to hook editors. In an informal survey of more than 50 editors and agents, author Cheryl Wyatt reports that 99% of them admit to only reading the first page of a submitted manuscript. If the story does not intrigue them in that first page, they won’t read on.

That puts a great deal of pressure on unpublished writers to have an astounding first page. If the editor, who reads thousands of manuscripts a year, is not hooked, then that manuscript will only garner a form rejection letter.

Work Hard on a Killer First Line.

Lots of writers pooh-pooh having a killer …

Making character voices distinct

I’m guest blogging at Love Inspired author Missy Tippens’ blog about how I make my character voices so distinct.

The Inciting Incident - Getting a Story Underway

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This article I wrote, which originally was published on Suite101, is for any of you who might be wondering about some of the key elements to keep in mind as you start your novel. It can also be a checklist for your novel's opening.

Getting a Story Under Way

In popular fiction, every story should start with some sort of Change to indicate to the reader that the story problem is beginning.

Dwight Swain (Techniques of the Selling Writer) says, “The function of your story’s beginning is to let your reader know there’s going to be a fight ... and that it’s the kind of fight that will interest him.”

Swain doesn’t mean a literal fight, but something the character is fighting for. The Inciting Incident is the Change that propels the hero to fight for his External Goal.

Most people, whether we like change or not, understand that when something changes, we can expect a new era or time of life to begin. The same principle applies to a reader—when he sees change in the story, he knows the cha…

The Five Basic Story Elements

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This article I wrote originally appeared on Suite101.

The Key Elements Needed Before the Novel is Written

In order to craft a more cohesive story, writers should make sure they have these five elements in mind before they start or very soon after they begin writing.

There are many different ways to write a story, and no one way is the “only way.” Some writers write as the story comes to them. Some plot out each step before they start writing. Some do a combination of both.

But there are five main elements of a commercial story that are crucial for ensuring a strong storyline. Writers should try to nail these elements down before they get too far into the novel. If they don’t, they might end up writing themselves into a hole, or the story might end up being very aimless and episodic.

1. Introduce the Main Character

Make sure there is a focal character or hero.

Even if there are two main characters, there is always one who is more important to the story, or whose journey is slightly more…

Characterization and archetypes

I talked about characterization and archetypes on MaryLu Tyndall's blog

Blog Marketing

I wrote an article on Blog Marketing at Christian Fiction Online Magazine:

Blog Marketing

I don't know how long the article will be up for, so read it quick! LOL

Time Management

I wrote about time management on Christa Allan's blog.

Character arc

This article originally was published on Suite101.

How to Plan a Character’s Journey

In popular fiction, every protagonist goes on a journey, whether physical or emotional.

In Techniques of the Selling Writer, Dwight Swain wrote, “Anything endangering survival or happiness creates fear.” And the point of creating fear is to introduce tension.

Tension is what hooks readers.

A protagonist’s character arc should progress from happiness to fear to tension (for most of the book) and back to happiness. It’s cyclical.

Create a Short Setup

This establishes who the character is before the events of the story. A writer should show what the character desires, what constitutes happiness for the protagonist.

Keep this section short, or incorporate the information within the action of the first chapter or two. Most editors prefer a quick start to the story.

Hit the Protagonist With the Inciting Incident

Also called the Catalyst, this is an external event that propels the character into the story.

I…

Quote - Writing is a business

“Never be: Afraid. Aggressive. Arrogant. Unhappy. Difficult. Depressed. Make an editor roll her eyes. Too much artist, not enough business.” --Brenda Schetnan (writing as Molly Evans) in her article, “After the Call--The First Year”

Remember, writing is a business. Much as art is a part of your writing, you also have to put on a business hat and think logically. Think market. Think audience. Think improvement.

How many manuscripts should you have in your "inventory"?

This question came up on one of my writing loops, so I'm shamelessly stealing it for this blog post.

How many completed manuscripts should you have under your belt before you query? 2? 5? 20?

How polished should those manuscripts be?

And what about series ideas and sequels and prequels?

Camy here:

The more I talk to agents and editors, the more I realize that they want to hear lots of IDEAS. Polish of the manuscript can come later, but if they don't like your first pitched idea, it doesn't matter that the book finaled in contests and is polished to a high pitch. You better have another idea to pitch to them if they say no to the first pitched idea.

This is what happened with my Sushi series. The pub board hated the first book idea (an old version of Trish's story), but they wanted to see the second book idea/manuscript (Lex's story in Sushi for One).

I have several writer friends who have between 5 and 10 finished manuscripts. Don't freak out, many of them have been w…