Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Finished My Blurb

That building kinda looks like a tomb, doesn't it? Symbolizing the end? I'm sure I'll tweak it a few times before I'm done, but the blurb for my query is done. I'm hoping it comes across as a Sugar Ray Leonard flurry in the corner, grace, elegance, and power. It might come off like Stanley Finkelstein who got the shit kicked out of him in every grade. I don't care. I'm done.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Query Blurb Hell

The picture above is taken from one of the finger lakes. I don't remember which. But it nicely encapsulates my experience in upstate New York.

I'm trying to do the same thing right now with the WIP, encapsulate it in a blurb I can use in a query. To those who don't know, a query is the letter one sends out to agents or publishers which will make said agent or publisher fall in love with the author and the work he has created. It's equal parts synopsis, sales pitch, display of profound wisdom, wit. and voice, and revelation of the author's soul.

I wasn't planning on doing mine until my WIP was complete, but Nathan Bransford, formerly an agent who has come to the dark side and become an author, is holding his fourth annual March Madness bracket challenge, and I have a chance at winning it going into the final weekend of play. And the winner gets a copy of Nathan's new book, as well as a critique of his query. While I'm excited about the book, the query worries me.

However, focusing on what the true essence of my WIP is, has brought unexpected benefits. I've decided to slightly alter one of the characters to meet the outline I proposed, because I had to alter his motives in order to make the story sound more interesting. I figured, if I need to change his motives to make the story sound more interesting in a query letter, why not change his motives in the story?

Maybe this exercise isn't so bad after all. Even if I don't win, I've benefited

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting Closer by the Day

When I was a kid, I used to watch sporting events and started out each game with dreams that my favorite player, whether it was Roberto Clemente, Pierre Laruoche, or Lynn Swann, would pile up fantastic statistics in the most lopsided victory in history. I wanted records and Hall of Fame inductions. As the game went on, the most important thing became clearer. Records be damned, I want the win.

I haven't matured much apparently, because I started out every chapter wanting to make the definitive statement on that setting or circumstance the MC finds himself in. I wanted each sentence to be so unique and profound that the reader would slap his forehead, "Sac re bleu! This is magnificent!" Well, at this stage of the book, I think I just want the win. A good story.

Hopefully my zeal hasn't doomed me to hours of eradicating purple prose from my early chapters. I'm convinced there's nothing that can't be fixed in there. But I find myself already getting defensive. There was a thread started on Absolute Write that stated that the OP didn't like battle scenes. Found them boring. Dozens chimed in and echoed his sentiment. Now, I happen to have a battle scene in my WIP, and I confess that that one single silly thread made me think about pulling out what had been a crucial plot mover in the story for the last three or four years. No, I have to trust the story. Even at the risk of making some readers skip ahead. If they do, it's okay. As long as they don't put the book down, and I don't think anyone who makes it that far would. If anyone's going to put it down, they'll put it down early on.

The closer I get to the end, the more resistant I am to change. Hopefully, that won't make me blind to changes that need to be made in the future. I don't want to be the stubborn author who insists the dreadful scene remains while twelve out of thirteen critters are telling hm it sucks. Also, as the end draws nearer, I'm becoming more aware of the business of writing. It turns out that an author on AW, James MacDonald, is an instructor at Viable Paradise, a writer's workshop. Now, I like MacDonald, I know him on line, and he's a great guy, but if a writer's teaching workshops, then he's not writing. James has a bunch of books he and his wife have published, but he apparently has decided to make some money on the side by teaching. A noble cause. But I don't expect Rowling or Brown to be instructors anytime soon, because they have more to write.

There are people making money all over the place off writers who want to be published. People will spend money for the advice that might be the difference, and there are many people out there willing to take it from them. Bless their hearts. I don't begrudge a single dine to anyone. But I have a hard time seeing myself as ever spending a dime on this stuff unless it's on cover art or editing. And I can't help but wonder how many talentless suckers dish out $1500 or whatever the charge is to have a mid-level author like James tell them how they can be better writers. It almost seems like a cruel deception. Come, young starlet, hand over a years worth of tips you've collected at TGI Fridays, and we'll make you a movie star. Just hand over the money, and you'll get the best training this side of Hollywood.

People are getting rich off the indie publishing boom, and some day there will be stories written about the ethics involved, you can bet on that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Awakening

The guy on the left is one of my best friends...at the time. I'm on the right in the picture. We don't communicate any more. He married the girl I was dating at the time this picture was taken, but that's not why we no longer talk. He's a great guy. She's a great girl. I'm an ass. And that's not mock humility.

I'm amazed at how little my younger self knows at every step of life, including my dive into the writing process. Just like ti took me years to realize what a standoffish prick I was in those days, regardless of my justifications, twenty years after I sat down to write a novel, I think I'm staring to see the big picture in book writing.

I think a writer has a year's worth of mornings, three hundred and sixty-five times he wakes up and realizes he's been doing something wrong, or missing a basic tenet of the craft. I can see now where my first serious attempt at a novel went bad, and I'm anxious to get back to it. I'll probably have to write it under a pseudonym, or release my current WIP under a pseudonym, because they're diametrically opposed on the genre scale, but that's irrelevant. It's the story that counts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fast paced

I'm working on what's typically described as a "fast paced" scene. It's the scene that the movie trailers would include if they wanted to suck in a bunch of bloodthirsty teens, looking for shit to blow up. The scene has to happen. I need it to move the plot along, and it's an integral part of the story. Maybe it's just because I wrote the initial version of this three or four years ago, maybe it's because the MC is a spectator, but I'm not feeling it. I need to re-think it.

That'll give me time to do a read for a friend. She's a better writer than I am, so naturally I've already re-arranged her prologue. Well, what the fuck's the use of doing a reading if you're not going to give your opinion, right?

I don't know. I might try to spruce up the chapter I'm working on by squeezing the "spectator" aspect of it down to the barest minimum (nobody likes an MC who sits on the sideline, letting things happen, but in this case, it's unavoidable). And then see what the critters say when I run it through the queues, that is, unless some stroke of genius strikes out of the blue sky in the interim. Of course, my experience is that blue skies generally don't strike shit.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blithering

It's that time again. Too tired to fuck with the WIP anymore, the wife is asleep upstairs, and run rum is warm in my tummy. Sometimes the run has taken a little too much of my self-restraint, and I find myself rushing down here in the morning to erase whatever petty, bitter bullshit I posted the night before. If you look at the times these posts are made, in American time, they're pretty much all around 10-11 p.m., right before I go to sleep. Not exactly my best work, but if I'm lucky enough to land an agent upon completion of my WIP, I'm pretty certain said agent will demand that I pull this all down anyway. It doesn't matter, it's chathartic, and that's all I really want, that and to keep the two followers abreast of my status so they don't think I've surrendered to self-doubt and packed it in.


Those are my friends Mark and Bonnie on the slopes of Utah. I don't remember the year, but it was before I was gray. I never hear from them any more, and I'm pretty sure it's my fault. I'm too lazy to maintain relationships properly. I'd rather be home...doing this. I assume that means I'll die alone in some filthy home for the incontinent with the bad linoleum, and staticky black and white TV, and a big hairy nurse named Gertruda slapping me when nobody is looking because she doesn't like the look I give her when she doesn't clean the shit out of my diapers in a timely manner.

Okay, maybe that's going overboard.

I may be suffering a touch of irritability at turning fifty this coming Monday. There isn't much I'd change over the past fifty years, except I wish I would've danced more.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pathos


Those are my buddies, Dan, Joe and Bert. I won't say what Joe did, because Bert is a Pennsylvania game warden, and he could get it trouble if anyone found out.

It's been an interesting few days. A blogger who's a critic tracked down a web site I and some fellow authors belong to. The site is a private forum, but apparently, a bunch of our members were going from our site to his, and he was curious as to who was interested in him, and so he asked for entry to our site, and we granted it. He's the elf in my sidebar. I'm not sure, but I think that disqualifies him from critiquing any more of our work, much to the dismay of my friend Abbey, who he was very complimentary of.

There are a lot of big words on his site, but they are intended for the reader, not the author. Trust me. The strategies and analysis he gives are irrelevant to someone writing a story. What he says is spot on, but it doesn't help the writer. The writer writes from the heart. I believe that there is a psychologist in every writer and he needs to control the story. An analyst can come along after the psychologist, and dissect what's been written, but that;s a far cry from writing it in the first place.

You can't analyze your way into telling a good story. It doesn't matter how many big words you know. There's simply no formula to follow. It's a spring that runs from the heart of the writer. It's a rhythm that settles in his soul. It's an insight psychologists dream of. In my humble opinion, a writer, a good one, uses the force.

On a related subject, I told someone on CC that they had no plot today. It felt cruel in a way, but it was so obvious, I'm amazed she didn't see it. Her writing style was wonderful. It was crisp and clean. She has a flair. But she needs to learn how to tell a story. It's not enough to be able to describe a situation. You have to make the words form a statement, not just a flowery postcard. I learned that the hard way. The first thing I ever wrote was essentially a description of events that had no point to them.

p.s. I'm adding the post script the morning after I wrote the above. as usual, I wrote under the cover of night, after I didn't feel like messing with the WIP anymore. We live in suburbia, tree-lined streets, manicured lawns, fairly high property tax area. But when I come downstairs at night, full of booze, and plink on the computer, on this little blog, I feel like I'm in some basement efficiency with muddy water running from the spigots and sirens running by every ten minutes outside. Kind of like Neo in The Matrix. Odd phenomenon.