Thursday, August 17, 2017

Writing Lessons From Horse Riding Lessons

Yesterday, my daughter had a fantastic riding lesson. OK, maybe fantastic was not the right word for it. The lesson appeared to be a complete disaster with the horse deciding that that would not be a lesson he wanted to participate in. And yet, the lesson did turn out to be fantastic because after the 90 minutes of what seemed to be a huge problem, the lessons she learned were amazing.

We are all going to have good and bad days, just like the horse. Sharper Eagle for the last month or so has been through the roof, incredible. He had a bad day. Just like us.

As writers, you too are going to have bad days. Everything you write on that current work in progress will be the biggest piece of you know what you have ever seen. You will know good and well that your agent is going to dump you, your editor is going to fire you and your family will disown you for all the time you wasted on that story.

But that is not going to be the case.

Something just didn't work out right. And, like my daughter, from that disaster, you will discover how to fix this issue and move on. You will learn how to overcome those obstacles so that problem hopefully will not show up again. What's more, is that you will learn more about yourself and your writing style. You will grow as a writer.

I fully get that during that moment, all of those comments will probably fall on deaf ears. But, know that somewhere in your brain, you will remember that you have gotten over problems like this in the past, and you will do so this time, and you will do so in the future.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Should You Be Writing?

Is your writing not going well for you? Do you feel like you are spinning your wheels and no matter how hard you try, that story just doesn't do what you want it to? Maybe you have finished the story and are sending it out to editors, agents, or even getting reviews and nothing is looking positive. It may simply be because you are in the wrong genre.

I have been doing some critique work lately with authors and had the chance to read two different pieces from the same author. The first story was...OK. Nothing amazing. I tended to find more things to pick on within the story and never really left satisfied after reading it. Was it bad? No. Was it amazing? No. It was just there.

But then I read another story from this author and it was amazing. It was a different genre and this author clearly rocked it. The voice was there. The writing was not forced. Wow!

After talking with the author, I found that the first story was an attempt at doing something new. This made a lot of sense. The reality of the situation is that the author simply was not comfortable with that new style and was still learning it. The other, the author had mastered.

So, with that in mind, what should you be writing? The answer is quite simple. Look to  your own bookshelves.

Now, I know that there are many of you who claim that you read everything out there. The odds are, though, that you do gravitate toward one genre more than another. In other words, if you walked into a bookstore, consider the shelves that you tend to go to first. Consider the aisles that you gravitate to. That is what you should be writing.

So, why is that? Because you full understand the genre. The wording, the styles, the nuances are all things that are running through your blood, so when it is time to write that genre, your brain already has the tools to make the writing successful!

I know that there are also some of you out there who believe that writing in the genre you read would tempt you to plagiarize stories and you would copy more than create your own story. This really is not the case. There will be common tropes, but you simply will not steal ideas. Another way to think of this is what your major was in college. You gravitated to the areas you knew better than others. Sure, you may have had some great teachers in other disciplines, or had classes you really loved in other disciplines, but your strengths really came out on the courses you understood.

I want to also add that authors should also consider doing this when they are deciding which publisher they want to write for. Look to your shelves again. The odds are you tend to read a select group of publishers and shy away from others. So go there!

Now, go out and do your research!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Before You Start: Does Your Story Have A Market?

I am sure every writer out there has done this some time in their past. Out of the blue, you come up with "THE PERFECT" story to be written. It is unique. It is fresh. It is hot and sexy. You can even see how the story will translate perfectly into a made for TV movie, or even the big screen. In most cases, you have even decided on who will play the characters and maybe even drafted your acceptance speech at the Oscars.

But, in all of this excitement, there is one piece you may have forgotten to consider and is necessary. Will this story even fit in the market today? Is there a place on the bookshelf in the bookstore for your story? Will anyone buy it?

Too often, writers simply start writing and then wonder why not editor or agent is interested in buying the story. They know the writing is good. Their friends have told them the story is great. But it simply does not sell. Now, part of this is that they have people who are a bit biased when it comes to the reading, but the bigger issue might simply be there was not market research done.

One of the roles of an agent is to work with authors before they commit a lot of time to a project. They don't want to dedicate too much time to a project, just to find that the story will simply not sell.

Market research is tough since we really don't know what it will be like a year from now, but there are a lot of things an author can do to minimize some of the damage.

Consider looking at the characters. Are these people who a reader would want to connect with? Are these people we would want to feel sympathy towards, or are we simply going to want to close the book and let them flounder.

Is the premise of the story something that really would work out. In other words, can we develop a plot that has purpose and meaning? Is there a real conflict in the story or is this simply a complication?

We can also look to see if this story is too similar to other projects already out there. Sure, common tropes are fine, but if someone on the outside picks this novel up and feels a sense of having already read it somewhere else, the book is not going to sell.

I know you may be overly excited about that project, but please, consider taking the time to think it through first. Not doing this may result in you losing valuable time that could have been spent on something that would sell.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Writers Helping Out EQUUS FOUNDATION

Greyhaus LiteraryAgencyis helping out The EQUUS FOUNDATION!Writers can donate to this great cause&receive a critique! by Scott Eagan

Too Much Information Kills Your Story

You have probably been told by editors, agents, and even your critique partners that your current story needs more depth. They want to know what that room REALLY looks like. They want to know the FULL reason why the character acts that way. While this information is certainly useful, when you over explain things or you go into far too much detail, the reader simply checks out.

There is a pretty good chance you have experienced this before when hearing someone tell you about something that happened in their life. We have a really great friend but when she starts telling us about her trip to Minnesota, she starts adding in all of this other information that we really don't need to understand the story. She will tell us that she left on a Thursday, and she remembered that because on Tuesday of that week she had to go to the doctor's office and that really slowed down her packing for the trip, because she was visiting her friend on Wednesday and this was the friend that she knew when she was working at the hospital right after college....

Do you get the idea?

The same goes for describing rooms or settings. Telling us briefly the decorations in the restaurant is fine, but when you go into describing every single picture and every nuance of the mean that is placed before the character, you have now reached the TMI level.

I also noted that all of the reasons why your character acts a particular way does not need to be over-done. I have noted that over and over here. Characters DO NOT need to have an extensive, soap-opera like lifestyle just to explain why they don't want to take the job, or to go on a date. It just might not be the right time. So tell us just that and keep the story moving.

What we are trying to do is to keep the reader connected to the plot. Don't kill them with that narrative.