Stacy Whitman, Editor, Mirrorstone. “Passion or Practicality—Writing for Love or the Market”
Plot can be taught so I look for voice.
The business person ties up the artist in a little room until she can churn out a book that he can sell.
When you write what you love:
you enjoy the process more
you write what excites you
you take more time
but . . . you might not hit the market.
Should you follow the trends? The market is not going to be hot by the time you get published.
Ann Cannon, “Hallelujah! I Can Write Again” (about Writer’s Block)
What stops us? Fear. Humans are hard-wired to be afraid.
List of things other authors do with writer’s block:
give yourself permission to write really badly
exercise faith that at some point you’ll figure out how to make it better.
start before anything else can interfere (first thing), then look at it again right before bed
freewrite first thing
read or write something else for a while
step back and look for patterns in the story instead of at words
get up, walk around. Dance for 15 minutes.
Go to the section you know you can do something with.
brainstorm, cluster, outline, research
set it aside when necessary.
keep a notebook in the car (movement helps)
think of the goofiest thing you can and make it happen to your character. It either works or you think of what would.
did you take a wrong turn in the story? go back and be willing to try another direction
do other writing: blog or e-mail
“just write for 15 minutes”
I read something I’ve written before.
rewrite, trying something new
“I ride trax with pen and paper and wait for something to come”
write different places, different times, with different instruments
Put scenes on notecards and lay them out and move them around
follow a routine
word list: free-associate words to do with topic
Eudora Welty always stopped herself while she still wanted to write, when she knew what the next sentence was going to be. That made it easier to start up.
Janette Ingold (notes copied from someone else)
1. Write one sentence: how does protagonist see herself?
2. How do others see her?
3. What strong belief controls her behavior?
4. What is character’s goal—the big thing? (concrete and specific)
5. Make the goal a question: Will she ____?
6. What are the stakes if she doesn’t get it?
7. Define antagonist’s goal, too.
Chris Schoebinger from Shadow Mountain
Elements of a bestseller:
Pitch (your pitch to the publisher) See www.manuslit.com. Turnaround time is 6 wks to 3 months. Contact them after that. Sometimes a call can push a ms. over the edge.
Hook. Very important. Part of the pitch letter. Four lines max. Wide audience is good.
Differentiate: what makes your book unique?
Title: should sound interesting
Read-aloud test, ESPECIALLY for middle grade. Would teacher feel comfortable?
Feedback: have I let five honest people give me feedback? Ask: Did you care about the characters? Was the dialogue believable? Am I hitting the right audience? Were the characters the right ages? Were you compelled to keep reading? How did you feel at the end?
Marketing Plan: How are you going to sell this?
(Question to self: why does Shadow Mountain seem to be interested in only fantasy/sci fi and gift picture books?)