A writer friend called me earlier this year slightly discouraged after pitching her novel at a writer’s conference in her home state of Hawaii. The feedback she received from one agent was that her book idea seemed scattered–as if she had too much going on. Another agent said that the writing was good but that the story didn’t seem finished yet.
My friend conceded that she probably did need to do more work on her book, but she also felt as if she didn’t get her idea across in a succinct way that the agents could understand.
Ah, the pitch. The pitch can get the best of us. And, when you have a complex, multi-layered novel, it can even be more difficult to create and maintain all the connections and communicate our ideas.
I suggested two remedies to her, and to you as well, to help in writing, revising and then communicating your work to agents and editors. Read more
Congratulations! If you’re participating in this year’s Nanowrimo, today is day one of your writing success.
To help you along the way, below are two inspirational treats:
Bestselling author and writing mentor Bob Mayer has a great blog that he’ll update during the month with more posts for us Nanos. This post is about what to write.
For a quick 3-minute break to lift your spirits listen to Nanowrimo A Capella here:
Below are two blog posts I found particularly inspiring and enlightening in my writing life this week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
New York Times bestselling author Bob Mayer’s post from last year: Pay the Writer makes so much sense. He writes about how we teach others how to treat us. This is true whether you’re speaking at a writing conference or setting aside quiet time to write at home. The video by Harlan Ellison is a hoot.
From last month, a post by my blog partner, Carly Sandifer, about finding inspiration in a commencement speech given by author Neil Gaiman.
In working on my new manuscript, one of the things I do from time to time is look at my main idea to make sure I’m on track or to see if it’s changed. In The Writer’s Guide to Writing Your Screenplay by author and screenwriter Cynthia Whitcomb, she suggests that you spend a little time figuring out if you can tell your story in an abbreviated fashion.
She’s talking about screenplays here, but the advice also holds true for novels or nonfiction books:
“Write the ad copy. Write the TV Guide blurb. Write what people will tell their friends about this great movie they saw last weekend. Word of mouth is powerful…. This simple exercise, done before you write the script, could be helpful all the way down the road. If you can tell it in a strong, abbreviated version now, it will be easier for you to get it right as you write (And then to pitch it, too).” Read more
In Ayn Rand’s The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, she recommends exercising our writer minds long before we actually put words to paper. Then when we do begin to write, the ideas and words flow. I like her advice and think of it in terms of being playful and having fun.
As I read, sometimes a sentence or phrase stops me in my tracks. When this happens, I like to examine the sentence, learn from it or just play around with it.
This happened to me recently when I read this line: “Men do not often boil a woman’s rabbit.” I was reading best-selling author Bob Mayer’s description of different archetypes of men and women. At first, this sentence stopped me because I didn’t understand it. I had to take a few minutes to wrap my brain around it. Finally, I got the meaning—we often see women “boiling a man’s rabbit,” but not vice versa. Read more
What motivates you to succeed? Years ago, when I first started working from home, I was motivated by several things: the need to eat, the need to keep my home out of foreclosure, the need to keep the lights and heat on—the need to provide for myself and my son.
To do this, I set my sights on reaching the level of manager in the company I had joined. I had plenty of motivation. But something was missing. Months went by and I didn’t seem to be making much progress toward my goal. What was wrong? Read more
New York Times best-selling author Bob Mayer’s nonfiction book Write It Forward is the best book I’ve read for helping writers become successful authors. It’s not a book about plotting or character development (though he does have an excellent book for that—The Novel Writer’s Toolkit). Write It Forward addresses things like fear, self-sabotage, how to design a writer’s business plan with long term and daily goals, how to take yourself seriously as a writer, how to get others to take you seriously, and that big, scary monster called change.
Mayer’s three steps of change are: Read more