Monday, February 28, 2011

Max Barry's Fifteen Ways to Write a Novel

Another great read for those of you hacking away at first drafts, third drafts, second novels, or eight novels: Max Barry's Fifteen Ways to Write a Novel.

The funny thing is, as I read through this list, I recognize each and every one of you . Honest to God, by the time I finish reading your manuscript, I know exactly how you wrote it - or at least how you wrote the first draft.

For instance:

The Jigsaw
What: You start writing the scenes (or pieces of scenes) that interest you the most, and don’t worry about connecting them until later.
Why: You capture the initial energy of ideas. You can avoid becoming derailed by detail. You make sure your novel revolves around your big ideas.
Why Not: It can be difficult to figure out how to connect the scenes after the fact. You need to rewrite heavily in order to incorporate ideas you had later for earlier sections. Your characters can be shakier because you wrote scenes for them before you knew the journey they’d make to get there.

Some of my most successful writers are Jigsaw-ers. I know you because I'll tear through pages and pages of brilliance, only to get stopped short on some transition scene that makes no damn sense. You're the ones who have half your pages marked "great!" "perfect imagery!" or "wow!" and the other half marked with "Why would this character do this?" "Why did this happen?" "???" 

You're a handful Mr. and Ms. Jigsaw, but you sure do produce some excellent work. 

You each have your own little quirks, of course. The Word Target, if I wanted to, I could figure out your target number, because, oh, perhaps every 1,000 words or so you're just throwing some words at me. Edit! The Coffee Shop - did you know that caffeine jitters infuse your pages with the scent of java and the speed of a runaway cheetah chasing another cheetah chasing a jet plane? It's true! The Headphones - check out page 238. Those are Paul Simon lyrics. Yup, really. 

You're all a blast to work with, and I love the challenge of figuring out revision plans that work with each and every one of your styles. But I'd like to use Mr. Barry's post as a challenge for all of my clients out there working on revisions, and even to future clients working on first drafts. 

Revise and self-edit to the point that I cannot tell which category you fit into, because your manuscript is so seamless, well paced, and trimmed that the hallmarks of method are erased by smooth execution. Just another aspect of the craft to perfect!

The Best Possible Way to Handle a Rejection Letter

Courtesy of Naseem Rakha, author of the Crying Tree over on Backspace.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Your Editor is Reading

Alice Hoffman's The Red Garden

Go Read This - Blog Edition

I know many of you (if not most!) are familiar with the editor/agent/writer blogosphere, but in case you missed them, here are a few to get your brain working this fine morning.

Jessica over at Book Ends is looking for something new...

"Steampunk. Please, please send me steampunk of all sorts. Adult, young adult, romance, mystery. I personally love this genre and can’t get enough of it."

Agent Kristen at Pub Rants provides some very good advice on self-submitting to small publishing houses. 

"So, resist the temptation and if you are submitting directly, make sure you pick the best editor first time around as you really only have the one shot. And of course, good luck."

Janet Reid gives you the inside scoop on winning free registration for the Backspace Writers Conference. 

And finally, if you're in the process of developing your query or synopsis, make sure you're spending plenty of time with your Evil Editor and the Query Shark!

Another Grand Reopening - Welcome to 2011!

As those of you who are already my clients know, Murdock Editing has been on a hiatus since November 2010 due to family obligations. Thank you all for your well-wishes, thoughts, and prayers.

 I am so pleased to announce that 2011 is looking up, and I am proud to be flinging the metaphorical doors open - we're back! 

In the coming weeks I plan to have some great posts up here for you - including my favorite, Reader Questions! If you have anything you want to ask the editor, shoot me an e-mail at editor at murdockediting dot com

In other news, we reached our goal of $1,000 over at Fiverr - all of which was donated to charity. In 2011, I'm upping the challenge - for every $5 you donate through my Fiverr gigs (go here for more information), I'll match your donation. 

Last but not least, I've decided to continue with 2010's policy of booking no more than four months in advance, so the books are currently open for March through May. As of this morning, there are six slots available. If you want to secure a spot for summer 2011, feel free to contact me, and I'll put you on the wait list. 

Happy New Year!