Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cutting a Tenth of Your Novel

This will be a quick post. It's been two weeks since my last one (doesn't that sound like an AA line?), but I've just been editing, which isn't hugely exciting to hear about. :) The process is teaching me so much about writing well though, so I count it as time very well spent.

Anywho, we've already established that I'm something of a numbers freak, so I'll give you some more here. Numbers tell us nothing about the quality of a story, but it does show the quantity of things I've removed from the earlier draft because they were unneccessary or just plain bad writing.

This recent round of edits was the "I was ly-ing" edits. That is getting rid of excess pronouns, passive voice, adjective/adverbage, and present tense verbs. None of these are bad when used in the right places and in reasonable quantities, but let's face it... my first drafts of my first novel were bound to come out really rough. I hope that I can write cleaner in future novels to avoid some of this work.

Anyway, without further ado, the numbers.

Data displayed in a quantity before --> quantity after format. These cuts didn't remove content, only excess wordage.

I (pronoun) – 4146 --> 3377
Was (passive voice) – 1345 --> 610
Were (passive voice) – 442 --> 307
Ly (adjectives/adverbs) – 2150 --> 716
Ing (present tense verbs) – 4000 --> 3225
Word Count – 100K --> 89K

Amazing that a tenth of my novel was just unneccessary words.

Anyone else had that kind of experience?

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Little Boost

Yesterday I had a query writing crisis. I have 9 versions of my book's query, from two completely different angles (each with several revisions, totalling 9). Yet I'm still not anywhere near the right hook or "advertisement" that I need to be at. It was crushing that both ways didn't work, when I thought I was on the right track.

So when I saw this on How Publishing Really Works it brightened my day:

"To paraphrase James D Macdonald: if you can write something that’s grammatically correct, which doesn’t contradict itself too many times and which shows a reasonable understanding of both spelling and punctuation then you’re already in the top ten per cent of the slush-pile, with a good-to-excellent chance of getting read—and getting published."

Hope it brightens your day too!

(I recommend reading the whole post)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Long Road of Revision (Query)

I’ve said it before, but I’ve got to repeat:

You can’t know what you didn’t know until you know it.

You might have seen Query v1, v2, and v3 in earlier posts. The latest is v9. Be thankful I didn’t bore you with the interim versions. :) It’s been a long road and I have many thanks to give, but mainly to Glam for asking “why should I care about Paige?” and “why does her story need to be told?”

Her questions made me step back and throw the first six versions (all pretty similar) out the window and start fresh. In previous versions I worked on boiling the story down to the main conflicts, the main characters, and the main plot. But I never got to the Why Should You Care part. :) Seems important in hindsight. How could I miss it? Well, I couldn’t know what I didn’t know until I knew it.

So, to all of you who have struggled with your query letter like I have, high fives all around for stickin’ with it when you wanted to tear your hair out.

Without further ado, here is v9 (surely not to be the last, but likely the best so far):

[redacted. v9 was one of the best bad ones, so I considered leaving it up, but it still had to go]

Does it reel you in? Does it make you care about Paige or her story? Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Where Would You Like Your Splash of Genre?

Today's post comes from the middle of a short story I'm working on. Well, from the first third really. See, it's a horror, but I've decided to open it up with normal occurances to ground it in reality before dabbling into the more supernatural elements. Makes good sense, right? But my concern is that an avid horror reader will open it up and wonder why the first five hundred words are a flirtatious conversation between a woman and her fiance. Insert question...

Where would you like your splash of genre?

What I mean by that is this... Everything you read has a prime element that causes it fit into a genre. Westerns, sci fi, mystery, horror, romance, you name it. But how far into the story (any story, from flash fic to full blown novel) can you go without introducing that element before the reader goes "Well, what the crap?"

When you open a book or magazine, do you want the element of your interest to jump out at you from line one or can you wait?

From the other side of the fence, do you write safely (genre strong from the get go) or daringly (make 'em wait and bet it all on your brilliant narrative)?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Short Story Contests

Well, I'm still editing, so not a lot to report on the writing front. AUC is down into the 95K range, so a quarter of the way to my goal (80K) and I'm 73 pages into 317 (about a quarter!) I'd say that's right on track, though it's really strange to think of my goal as shrinking wordcount after all the time spent increasing wordcount.

Anywhoozle, on to the point of this post. I have been searching for reputable short story contests and have turned up very little. Perhaps I'm not searching in the right places, so I beseech you. If you know to where I may turn, let a girl know, all right? Please note: I write popular fiction (horror, fantasy, YA), not literary fiction so that will have some effects on what contests my work would work for.

And while you're here, feel free to share your short story successes or troubles.