I planned to treat myself today to a Sunday morning idly surfing writers’ blogs.
I can justify it, it’s still writing related, I might just learn something more I can apply to my writing, and best of all I can be deliciously lazy with a built in excuse.
Not so lazy this morning! I’ve ended up reading and thinking hard about writing and what does and doesn’t work. A link from the fabulous Julie Cohen’s blog sent me to a blog I’d never visited before, that’s going to be a rich source of resources for my writing toolbox- Anne Mini’s Author Author.
She started the New Year with a 22 part series on the reasons stories get rejected on the first page. These came from agents, but I can’t see it’s going to be much different for a publisher accepting direct submissions like HMB. This series is a gem, an entire book’s worth of information on what writers can do to rejection proof their submissions. We all want our story to be “The One”. The one that will stand out, the one that will get passed up the chain, the one that has the chance of the editor falling in love with it and wanting to read more. This series details the things that going to make it impossible for anyone to fall in love with our story, the submission equivalent of bad breath and body odour on a first date. All the things to look out for in our manuscripts that could mean that overworked editorial assistant isn’t going to want to read any further. After all, she can afford to be choosy, she has another fifty-something submissions that arrived into the slush pile just this morning!
As I read I kept flipping back to my edit notes for the WiP, seeing so many issues I needed to be aware of when it comes editing time for this story. I’m resisting the temptation to go back and try to fix them now. On with the first draft is the number one rule right now. But oh boy, those notes I made are going to be so handy later.
As well as as the no-nos, she listed some of the things that can make agents (and editors) more likely to fall in love with a story-
1. A non-average character in a situation you wouldn’t expect.
2. An action scene that felt like it was happening in real time.
3. The author made the point, then moved on.
4. The scene was emotionally engaging.
5. The narrative voice is strong and easy to relate to.
6. The suspense seemed inherent to the story, not just how it was told.
7. “Good opening line.”
8. ”There was something going on beyond just the surface action.”
Fingers crossed I can somehow create some of those wonderful factors! Somehow, I think screening out the negatives is going to be a whole lot easier!