Show, not Tell

There are 3 rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

Archive for July 2010

Lesson 4

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I like lists and I have now decided that lesson four should be that getting published is no different than any other goal. Have a plan. Know what you need to do to get it accomplished. This is our list! Yes, things are in order (somewhat).

1. Idea!

2. Motivation… or your idea will remain an idea.

3. Make a synopsis or summary of how your idea will play out in a book… or you’re going to flounder around as you write without a direction.

4. Write.

5. Write some more.

6. Write even more.

7. Revise.

8. Revise some more.

9. Revise even more.

10. Revise like your life depends on it — because it does.

11. Find a critique partner. Revise some more.

12. Revise even more.

13. Revise like your unborn children’s life depends on it — because it does.

14. Search for at least 40 agents to send your query to. Rank them in amount of awesomeness… and how much you’d like them to represent you.

15. Write your query letter.

16. Rewrite your query letter.

17. Rewrite your query letter again.

18. Rewrite your query letter again, this time using Google-fu to immaculately conceive it.

19. Get someone to critique your query letter.

20. Revise your query letter.

21. Send out a batch of queries to 5-7 agents. Pick a few from each of your lists of varying degrees of awesome.

22. Wait.

23. Wait some more. (You could write another book right here. Start at #1!)

55. Wait more.

56. If you were offered one of the following things, go to #870: a partial request, a full request, representation. If not, move to the next step.

80. Revise your query letter. Try it from another angle. Repeat steps #15-56 until you succeed or proceed to the next step.

81. Forget you ever wrote the book. It was a good experience. If you’re too discouraged to try again, stop now and don’t quit your day job. If you’re not discouraged, proceed to the next step.

90. Repeat steps 1-80 until an agent asks for a partial manuscript, a full manuscript, or representation. Proceed to #870.

150. Give up. This obviously isn’t working for you.

300. Rekindle your desire to write. Repeat steps 1-80.

500. Read: agent blogs, publisher blogs, insider news, other books. Bestsellers, nosellers, self-published, Hyperion-published, classics, books in the genre you are most interested in, books in a genre you despise, books in a genre you think you could benefit from. Read and learn.

688. Critique other people’s work. That is all. Read and learn.

800. Repeat steps 1-80.

870. You are on the right track! If an agent asked for a partial, go to #890. If an agent asked for a full manuscript (wow, you must be really good), go to #900. If an agent asks to represent you without even reading your book then you don’t need this list. Go to step #1001.

890. Your query worked! You have baited the unbaitable! Get a celebratory drink and then sober up really fast. Wait a few days — maybe a week (you may not want to follow this advice) — to see if another agent asks. Send out what they want. What do they want? They want your query again (so they know who you are — you aren’t that special yet that they would remember who you are), they want part of your manuscript (this is what they asked for, after all… and you want to give them this), and they want your professionalism. They also want your soul, but they will not ask for this just yet. They may also request other things of you, like a synopsis. Give them what they want!!!! Even if they would like you to hand-deliver them a turkey sandwich made in Barcelona, do it. If you are not sure what they want, at least send them your original query and your partial and then ask if they would like anything else. Be nice. Be courteous. Make sure your manuscript is formatted correctly if they accept attachments! If they do not accept attachments do not even attach your e-heart to it. You must woo them without them realizing this is what you are doing. Go to #1000 if you are asked for representation. Go to #900 if they ask for a full manuscript. Go to #909 if they deny you with a form rejection. Go to #919 if deny you with a personalized critique.

900. You are so amazing. Except you have to do the same thing as those who were requested only a partial in #890. Do what what is outlined in #890 🙂 except send your full manuscript, of course… but you knew that! You were smart enough to get this far, after all!

909. I’m sorry. Life is hard. This happens to a lot of people so do not fear. You must’ve done something right along the way. Go back to step #15 or #21! I have faith in you!

919. I’m sorry. Life is hard. This happens to a lot of people so do not fear. You must’ve done something right along the way. If they suggest changes, make them and send it again. Agents know everything and you should learn from whatever sparkling advice, suggestions, or critique they give you. If they liked it enough to spend time doing this for you, then make the changes and send it out again to them. It could be the push they need to offer you representation! If they still say no, you probably are headed in the right direction for another agent to represent you. If after making changes the agent offers you representation, go to #1000. If they still reject you, go to #15 or #21 again!

1000. Congratulations, you have played the game of chance and you may have won! I can’t give you any more prophetic advice at this point but a few things: build a relationship with your agent because you will be stuck together for awhile, be patient because editors are just as busy as agents, and do not weep if things do not work out. Just start back at #15 or #21! Or even maybe #1!

1001. You are a published author and you should be giving me advice!!!!

Written by Jessica Lei

July 28, 2010 at 7:05 am

Posted in Humor, Lessons, Publishing

Lesson 3

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Here is our third lesson. We had an inkling about this lesson a few days ago but it didn’t really sink in until today:

Do not do revisions until after you are finished writing. It’s probably okay to pass around your first chapter for major critique before writing the rest completely, but if you are being thoroughly critical of everything you write, as you write it, it is slow and often discouraging.

I think we’ll stop revising after chapter three and just write like I know we want to. Free fingers, spin your tales and your lies!

Written by Jessica Lei

July 27, 2010 at 1:34 am

Posted in Lessons, Revising

Lesson 2

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I came across our second lesson today. While it doesn’t really pertain to us (although we’ve gotten a few comments on how our writing is a bit too adult even for adults (we don’t know how)), we think it’s pretty valuable all the same:

This is going to be short.

If you need to use a thesaurus to find words to use to sophisticate your writing, then please don’t use a thesaurus. The chances that you don’t know how to use these more “sophisticated” words is pretty high. Using these more “sophisticated” words instead of words that you know use will detract from that “sophisticated” tone you were aiming for.

Stick with what you know. If you need to know more to write what you want to write, then learn more! Mary Shelley did not write so well at the mere age of eighteen because she used a thesaurus; she was a stunning writer because she was incredibly and indescribably well-read!

Written by Jessica Lei

July 23, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Lessons, The Saurus

Lesson 1

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Here is our first lesson as we start writing our first novel:

When you’re writing a novel to be published, it is incredibly important to find outlets to share your novel with before letting your baby out into the big bad world. Just like you nurture own baby, you need to nurture your story, too. It needs the proper clothing, the proper subsistence, and the proper environment to grow up well. We all want our babies, and our stories, to bloom into a successful adulthood.

For writing, I think finding someone to critique your work is almost invaluable (invaluable would probably be finding a publisher and a million dollar, lucrative contract).  When you’re writing, to stop and take the time to look over all the aspects of your own story is like trying to cut your own hair. It doesn’t work. You can’t reach the back of your head and you can’t find all of your own mistakes. Once you’ve read over your story once or twice, half of it is practically committed to memory, anyway. You need someone else who doesn’t know every aspect of your story like their very own pillow. No, you need fresh eyes, because not only are potential readers going to have fresh eyes, but your potential agent or publisher will, too.

By fresh eyes, I mean someone who has absolutely no idea what you’re writing. So when they read your first chapter, they don’t already know that subtle reference you made in your third paragraph will be meaningful in chapter twenty. For someone who knows next to nothing about your story, they can tell you if it’s truly interesting, and you must have an interesting story to find an editor, an agent, or a publisher.

So, great, you have someone who can critique your story. Even better, maybe you have several people. That is jolly.

Now, find someone else’s story to critique. Why? Because helping someone improve their story will help you improve yours. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase before that teaching someone something helps you learn it, too. Taking a critical look at someone else’s work will force you to take a critical look at your own. When you comment on their lack of description, you’re going to wonder: how’s my description? When you point out an inconsistency, you’re going to wonder: do I have inconsistencies?

Giving and receiving critique is important to improving your story. Improving your story is a sure step in the right direction to getting published. Logic would say that it’s pretty imperative to start that critique group up soon.

Written by Jessica Lei

July 23, 2010 at 4:35 am

Posted in Critiques, Lessons, Revising

Hello world!

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Hello! I am J.D. Deshaw and I am writing a young adult romance novel. I am not just one person, I am two adorable young women who are cousins and best friends and partners, and now co-writers. This is kind of going to be what we learn as we start our first novel, because, I mean, what does it take to even start writing a novel? We don’t know, but I’m sure we’ll find out.

Written by Jessica Lei

July 21, 2010 at 8:39 am

Posted in General