GOOOOOOOD MORNING, SEEEEEKERVILLE!
And a huge thank you to our veterans, our armed forces, our military men and women serving here and overseas. May God bless you and your families, may his warmth guide your steps, your days, your nights and may he keep you in the palm of his hand from this day forward.
|While dressing the role for contest judging|
isn't imperative, it DOES lend a certain
dignified air, don't you think?
Question #1: HOW CAN YOU GET A PERFECT CONTEST SCORE AND STILL NEED ADVICE? HUH????? ANSWER ME THAT, SMARTY-PANTS AUTHOR LADY!
Answer #1: Relax, Einstein, you worked for the score and you paid for the advice, so listen up and keep your eyes on the prize, a SPOT ON AN EDITOR'S DESK.
Got that? You aced the spot, now breathe... No, come on, really breathe, like in and out therapy breathing, deep breath in through the nose, slowly out through the mouth. There. Much better. Geez, Louise, you guys are just a tad over the top, doncha think????
Some of my best advice (Mary and Teeeeena are NOT allowed to comment on the use of the modifier "best" in this sentence) goes to people who either should be or will be published, those on the precipice, leaning over the edge, because they've evolved enough to take heed. Newbies are tender, they're easily scarred, they need gentility. You toughies???? No more hand-in-velvet-glove for you. When you're THAT CLOSE, most contest judges want to help you smooooooooth those tiny rugged edges so they give you the score that helps push you into the final round, and then offer advice to help you impress that editor..
The same is true of the editing process once you're published. And then you come to selling on proposal, three chapters, a synop, and an earnest "please buy me" letter.
Okay, so right now the best thing to do is go to split screen and bring up Bob Mayer's post about feeling like a fraud, because Bob hit the nail on the head multiple times which is why he's multi-published, absolutely adorable and stinkin' smart.
Okay, the adorable part has nothing to do with anything, but I threw it in there, and while he's not Derek Jeter amazing, he is cute, nonetheless.
We chatted a few weeks back about opening chapters, and Vince wondered if you could sell a book on proposal and have the opening chapters end up very different from the original.
YES. YES. YES.
And that's because your editor is most likely going to ask/request/demand (insert verb of your choice) changes.
Remember this key/clutch/momentous fact:
Trust that your editor knows his/her readership and shifts in market demographic.
This is huge stuff because selling books is a numbers game, right?
To make money, we want to be part of the numbers. Now I know not everyone will agree with this, I get that, and the idea of writing beautiful stories that have no audience may have emotional merit, but Ruthy lives in the real world of bills-to-pay and monetary need coupled with a really big heart she hides under a layer of snark.
I like getting paid for a job well done. Oddly, so does my grocer. The bank that holds my mortgage. The electric company. And they're totally NOT ashamed of getting paid for the work they do or the service they provide.
Umm... neither am I!
So when my proposal comes back with a list of ideas and changes to make, I first go to Bob Mayer's post to remind myself why I feel suicidal, that it's a necessary part of the game, then I examine the suggested changes, breathe, and realize:
Oh, my, this is nothing different than I would have done as I pimped, primped and polished the book once complete.
Feel free to read that sentence multiple times. Really.
Mary Connealy mentioned adding notes to her pages as she works, things like "deepen Belle's anxiety in opening, show more of Silas in middle chapters, add more snow (yeah, like that's EVEN POSSIBLE in a Connealy novel.... in Texas.... Oh my stars, but I digress. Sorry.)" and I do that same thing as I work on a book. Rather than go back and layer these things in as I work, I add notes to my pages and then go back and do the entire layering process as one task, page by page, chapter by chapter. Only then can I 'feel' the flow of the book, see how well it meshes. So of course, the original chapters will not be the same in the finished work as in the offered proposal, because by the time the book closes, I know my characters better, I'm more in touch with why they do what they do (sorry, a little sob there, just a touch of something in my eye, no doubt...) and that realization then pushes me to deepen the book, the feelings, the actions, etc. So if the original finished book is a skeleton, lightly fleshed, the final book is the totally buff, been-workin'-out finished product.
It amazes me that editors "see" as clearly as they do to help steer authors, so once I get over the surprise of being less than perfect (back to Bob Mayer again), I re-examine the advice and set to work.
Heroine too chatty?
Hero too gruff?
Soften him up with a hint of gentility, a warm gaze, a hinted smile, OR.... explain why he's this way. If he has good reason, it's fine, but (as I've been reminded more than once, sigh....) Harlequin isn't about to package my books with an accompanying CD recorded message that explains why my characters act the way they do.
That's up to me, the author.
Too much humor?
Remember your target market and don't get too snarky.
Too much description?
Tone it down, word choice is a HUGE help here because you can say so much with one well-chosen, carefully scripted word rather than a run-on descriptive declarative sentence like this one.
Most of that is stuff I layer in more carefully once the meat of the book is done, so nailing those opening chapters for a proposal is tough. If we treat them more like a facsimile, a guideline, then we shouldn't be chagrined when an editor, agent or judge advises change, because who gets it right the first time? Or the second?
So when that contest judge or editor advises change, usually it's no more than you would have extracted from yourself as you steer the book in one direction or another. They just 'see' it sooner because they have fresh eyes. Cooperation, adaptability and reason are huge pluses when working with other professionals in the industry.
Is it easy to learn to embrace change? Heck, no, that's why most of us fight it like the Dickens, but it's good for us, more often than not. And in the end....
Yes, it's true...
You generally end up with a better product all around.
Hey, coffee's on, I've brought holiday flavors and creamers and plain ol' Joe, Dunkin' today. Smells wonderful! Tea, too, chai, green, Earl Gray and plain black tea for the straight-shooters among us.
Jump in, hit the donut/bagel bar, grab some food and let's chat. I'm danglin' a $20 Barnes and Noble card here that's goin' up for grabs and if you're lookin' for advice on how to handle those judges comments or how to tweak a story to an editor's liking, chime in. You know me.
I love to talk. ;)