Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Writing Realization: Surround Your MCs With People Who Hate Them

As I was eliminating characters right and left from my latest draft, I had a Realization. (I love capitalizing random words, in case you can't tell).

So here it is, my big Realization: If you want a tense and action packed book, the majority of characters surrounding your main character should dislike your MC.

This is, of course, an over simplification. You can have people who stand in your way who like you (and sometimes that's much more interesting). You can have people who hate you who really don't affect your life one way or the other.

But, overall, if you have the majority of people standing in the way of what your MC wants, that is a a great recipe for tension and action.

Although I do love a good friend or two to share in the adventures. Maybe I just read too much Anne of Green Gables when I was little, but I love a bosom buddy. And I'm a total sucker for a love interest. But, really, I think love interests are much more interesting if they start of not really liking each other very much, so even your love interest (if you have one) can fit into the anti-MC crowd at first.

So there you have it, the key to literary success: Make everyone hate your MC (except the reader, of course. The reader had better like your MC or you've got some serious problems.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Design!

Look at me, all cool and protected from that indoor sun.
I look ridiculous!

So I know that I don't have terribly many people following this blog (which is why I value you visitors all the more!)

However, my blog design has been driving me absolutely insane. Okay, so let's not dramatize things. Whenever I took a good look at the look of my blog, it annoyed me and I'd think to myself, "I really ought to change that."

It was just . . . a little ugly. I'd picked it b/c I wasn't a fan of most of the generic Blogger templates, and I didn't want to loose any functionality by importing a template.

I wanted something fairly uncluttered that was easy to read. Because blogs are meant to be read, of course!

I think there are a lot of lovely blogs out there with white writing, but I myself prefer to read black (or blackish) writing, and that was messing me up because I couldn't find a template I liked with black(ish) writing. So I chose this cool mappy template (one of the Blogger Watermark variety), and changed every single color of pretty much everything.

And you know what?

I like it! Maps are really freaking cool (especially old timey maps).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Lovely Little Break For Spring

I've been tippy tap tap typing so very much the last two weeks that the ring finger on my right hand actually hurts. I'm pretty sure it's b/c that's the one you use to so awkwardly hit the period key. Or just b/c I'm sad and pathetic. Critiques, query revisions, book revisions, and a resume revision are all in the works.

However, last week I took a fun little break to take a million photos of the flowers in my yard. Here are the highlights:

Because I was way too lazy to finish raking the back yard, I was rewarded by photos like this.
And this:

I think it's so cool how flowers can grow up through leaves.

I tried to get all sorts of action shots with bees, but bees are way less obliging than flowers. I did have a few successes, though. This photo is my favorite bee butt shot:

This one was my husband's favorite:

His comment was, "Wow, you really like taking pictures of flowers, huh?" Yes. Yes, I do.

I, however, liked this shot of the same flower better:

And one more, because I thought this was a cheery little bunch:

Happy Spring, Everyone!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Query Letters: The Bane of a Writer's Existence

 This is me, trying to block out all of my failed query letters. Okay, no it's not. It's just a weird(ish) picture of me.

Freaking Query Letters

Oh, the dreaded query letter. I hate them, I really do. I didn’t used to, but there is just so much riding on your query letter. So, what can I say? The pressure got to me.

I have had approximately fifty different query letters for my MG Fantasy. I’m not even sure I’m exaggerating. This last week, after I started another massive overhaul of my manuscript, I also started a new query letter so I could emphasize the new direction of the manuscript.

There are a lot of sites out there with query letter tips. This one tells you that the three basic parts to a query letter are the hook, the synopsis, and the writer’s bio. I think that can be helpful, as far as it goes, but by now I’ve read a lot of successful query letters, and it seems to me that the structure is much more flexible than that. So, here are my main tips:

  • Don’t scare the agent. Keep it professional!
  • Convey the voice of your book. Your writing has to be a selling point of this book. Show them what you’ve got.
  • Make the stakes clear. What does the main character stand to gain and/or loose?
  • Read a lot of successful query letters. And unsuccessful ones too. Agent Janet Reid’s Query Shark is great for that.

And on this topic, one can never go wrong looking for  a few other helpful hints, so here are some other great links:

I just recently re-wrote my query letter, and this post helped me focus in on what I really needed and what I could discard. The illustrious Query Shark referred me to the post, for which I am forever grateful.

This was a pretty neat list of successful queries in a variety of genres. And here are a few more helpful query letter Dos and Don’ts from Writer’s Digest.

I am personally a huge fan of agent-turned-author Nathan Bransford and his blog. This is a post he did on writing query letters with a ton of links to other helpful posts of his.