Monday, February 20, 2017

Motivation For Writers

I just saw this on an Instagram post. Walt Disney once said, "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." I see so many writers fail in their careers simply because of all of their talking.

I don't care how many reasons you have for why the writing is not going as planned. The real reason is that you are simply not writing.

You can create storyboards until the sun goes down. You can create character plans, outlines and so forth. You can tell me all of these reasons why the real world is getting in the way. But, when it all comes down to it, your writing is not getting done because you are not writing.

End of story.

This last weekend, I had NPR on the radio and was listening to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.  Romance's ultimate author, Nora Roberts was on and she was asked about if she ever has had writer's block. She said "No." Her comment was what I have said all along. Writer's block is a mental thing. She said that she will always sit down and write, even if it is a piece of garbage. She can always go back and fix it later. The reality is that was still making forward progress.

So, what about you? Put those excuses down and just write today.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Do You Have A Backup Plan?

My authors are awesome. There isn't a week that goes by when one of them give me inspiration for a blog post. Sometimes what they provide me is inspirational. In other cases, it is a word of warning, which is what today is about...

One of my authors had a situation recently where the story she was working on (and I should note was doing really well with) ran into some difficulties. It was the infamous "computer failure". She had thought everything was good, but sure enough, over 5 chapters of hard work were lost. Not good. She was not happy about that in the least bit.

But things like this happen. When we work with technology, problems will occur. So, with that said, it is always good to keep a couple of back-up plans at the ready.

I am someone who firmly believes in saving your work in multiple locations. Save it to the "cloud". Save it on flash drives. Save it on your hard drive. Email it to your agent. Email it to your friends. And yes, every now and then, print it off!

I would also encourage you to set the Auto Save Function on your computer to a shorter time. Right now, the default on MS Word is set for 10 minutes. This is when the computer kicks into life and saves the work to a temporary file. If you are someone who writes really fast, shift it to every 5 minutes or so.

To find this command, here are the steps.
  1. Right click on the top bar where all of the commands are located.
  2. Click on Customize Quick Access Toolbar
  3. On the left side click on the SAVE tab
  4. You will see the AUTO RECOVER option there. Change that and then hit OK.
I should also note that another option here is to change the DEFAULT option to something other than the computer. That way if the whole computer crashes, you can still get to it. You can change it to a flash drive or even the cloud.

Just some "techy" stuff to consider.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Along with working as an agent, I help out with Writer's Digest and their 2nd Draft Editing service. This is a chance to help out writers drafting query letters, or putting together their synopsis. I recently read a query where the author was targeting an agent at a pretty large agency. This particular agency has locations all around the world and handles everything from screenplays, to novels, to television shows and movies. This is BIG!

As I read this query, I was really trying to figure out why the author had chosen this agency. Was it the size of the agency and the fact that it looks as if there are connections all over the place for the story? Was it the reputation for making big deals? I don't know. Sure, on the surface, it would seem that if this author works with this agency, there are more resources available, but that does not mean this author's writing is going to have access to all of these services.

What authors need to consider is not necessarily the size of the agency, but what that agency can do for the author. Along the same lines, authors need to consider what their personal needs are as an author and whether or not the agency is going to meet those needs. Although all agencies offer many of the same services, the approach each agency takes will be different.

I think it is all about deciding if you want to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond. Sure the agency is large, but if you are a new author and they have nothing but the big authors in the agency, where do you think the agents will be spending their time? With the people who make the big money. Until you get tot he point that you are showing you can earn money, you will probably not get all of that attention you want.

This is also an issue of knowing where your writing belongs. Your story does not fit with every agency out there. It also does not belong with every publisher out there. Your writing has a voice and style that will limit your market. You need to know that market and send that story to the place that fits the story the best.

As far as that author who wrote that query? I really don't know if he will get the response he wants. It would be great if he did? But, from this angle, it looks as if he may be shooting for something that is too big for his story and his writing career.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Researching Your Genre

If writers want to improve their writing, one of the best things they can do is to research their genre. This is not so much an issue of taking workshops or reading books. This is all about reading extensively in your genre. I would also add that it is important to read genres from the publishers that you want to submit to. The more you do this, the more you will understand the nuances.
Here is the thing to consider. You should not be reading to just get the plots. You need to take the time to read and see if you can spot patterns in the writing. This may include things such as how the back story is put forth by the author. How long the paragraphs are. How much world building is included. And even take a look at the type of characters and tropes that seem to be showing up.

It is also important to understand that things change over time. Sure, reading the classic authors is fun, but things change. Read those new authors that are coming out. This is going to give you an idea of what the editors are now looking for. Reading the established authors may give you a wrong idea. Remember, they are established and can pretty much get away with a lot of things because they already have a following.

I teach a workshop called Dissecting the Novel. This is really what you need to do with your reading. Don't just read for pleasure, but really take the time to dissect that story. Pull it apart. Examine the pieces. Do this on a regular basis, and then go back to examine your own writing. This might give you an idea of what is working and not working in your own stories.