Posts Tagged ‘rewrite’

Well, its weird. That’s the short version.

Over the last few days I have been watching a lot of interviewers with writers and I realise that my story isn’t so different from many other authors. One of my favourite authors Karin Slaughter said in an interview that i watched that things turned around for her when she treated her submitting her novel as a business proposition, and nothing more.

Its hard to be emotionally detached from your own work. Occasionally I think about what I have written and I cringe a little, that is something that will never change. Its not because I think its crap, I don’t; but its more because its a part of me. I’m such a private person, the possibility that I may have to be less private is quite daunting and something I had to talk myself into. I would be happy never to meet anyone new, or to have to talk about myself or anything else that’s personal. All of my most personal thoughts and feelings are hidden inside my characters anyway.

I think there is an arrogance among new writers (myself included) when you start writing and you realise, actually I’m quite good at this. There’s a frustration that other people cant see the talent inside you that needs nurturing. There’s almost a feeling of entitlement that – I’ve written this – so you must publish it. Without any real understanding of what’s really happening out there. A lot of people think they can write a book, a lot of people start books that shouldn’t, a lot of people don’t that should. The fact is, its a business, and no one has to recognise anything about you, no one owes you anything. That attitude is going to get you nowhere fast. I have a friend who sent off to an agent, when the agent refused – they decided to self publish. I understand that gut feeling, how DARE you tell me my works no good – I worked hard for that. The truth is there are hundreds of agents out there, and there thousands of people like you, who think they deserve to be published. Your book might be amazing, it really might – we have all heard stories of mega successful books that were rejected a heap of times before they reached any kind of attention. Luck is most definitely involved, but only if you have put the work in first.

I have written a lot of stuff over the years, some short stories, screenplays, novella’s and then finally a novel. The first stage of the process was writing a coherent story (harder than you think!) that was also long enough to be classed as a novel. Then, and this is the part that cannot be taken lightly at all, you need to rewrite. This is not to say change everything you have written, of course not. I like to think of it this way – if you are anything like me – I get annoyed at the TV when things are implausible or just out of character. I try to look at my book as a reader and question myself, why did he do this? why did that happen? Youre not going to get everything in one go, but you will find some things to change – that doesnt mean you failed, it means you know how torewrite. So then you go through and answer your questions within the work or you delete the need for the questions. By the end of that you should have something that makes a little more sense. You can get some help by asking someone you trust to read it and give you HONEST feedback, that can be helpful. Its important not to see any suggestions for change as a personal attack but more a want to make your book the best it can be.

Then check for grammar etc – basically make it as professional looking a document as you can. I struggled with this as my punctuation is kind of terrible. But I bought a book on grammar and punctuation and tried to learn some of the rules to help make my book better. I knew that if I wanted someone else to take my work seriously I had to take it seriously myself. I know some people get offers on partially completed work – that could never happen for me – my finished product is always so different, I think that’s because I’m a bit slow and I cant always make all the best connections until the end of the story. with my first novel, I can honestly say I have read through over 100 times, and made changes – even minor ones, every single time.

After you have done that then you format it, paragraphs, spacing, chapter headings. basically you want it to look right. (again another struggle for me)

The I looked through several listings for agents that deal with Crime fiction and I picked several to send to. I followed the submission guidelines to the letter and sent off my work. What I was basically doing was removing obstacles in my way. If its not formatted properly then why would they read it? If they don’t accept submissions then why would they read it? If I have lots of obvious spelling errors then why would they read it?  If they don’t deal with my genre of fiction then why would they read it? Its important not to put obstacles in your own way and set yourself up for rejection, for the wrong reasons. Not because your work wasn’t any good, but because you sent it to the wrong people, or you lost interest at the editing phase. Don’t cheat yourself out of a chance for a silly reason. The hardest part is writing a novel, making it better and sending it off should be fun. I had completely geared myself up for rejection, after 15 years of writing I knew that the chances of me getting an agent were slim to none, every blog I ever read told me so. Of course now i understand why, because its important you understand how rare it is. Rare but not impossible.

I was lucky enough that one of the first agents I sent my novel to “got” my work, because the others that I sent it to just said no. That was where my luck came in, sending it to the right people helped, and I was lucky that my wonderful agent Diane actually saw and read my book. I had lots of complimentary emails and then was pitched to several publishers – again – none of them really “got” it, although I received a lot of praise – but all it takes is one. And so I’m getting published. I have had to rewrite again, with the help of an amazing editor and its quite different now to how it was when I finished it the first time. Having an editor was great, someone else to second  guess you so you don’t have to do it yourself.. (you know what I mean!) – while writing I think everything I write is pants – so its nice just to have specific things picked out – it means the rest must be ok.

The thing to remember about it is this – its a business. You don’t get published because you’re a nice person or because you tried really hard , you don’t get published because you really want to. You get published because your book is commercially viable as a product. Its because they think other people will like what you have to say and will pay to read it. The reason its commercially viable is completely noble and artistic, its not selling out. Its important to remember that its not personal when you get rejected.

 

Until next time…

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If you’re anything like me then you wait a lot. You wait for ideas to grab you, you wait for the writers block to disappear. You wait for distance from your script before you start to edit, you wait for someone else to look it over for you, you wait for their feedback. You wait until you feel ready to send your work out, you wait to hear rejections or offers of representations and then you wait for your agent (should you get one) to get you a publishing deal.

i wonder if its worse when you’re waiting for yourself or when your work is in others hands. Both can be frustrating. I remember when I was writing the first book i had a lot of people offer to read it for me, in fact I think I gave it to 5 people all together, only two of those people read it, and one was my mother (who skipped all the gory bits – which is about a third of the books) – so my advice is, don’t give it to anyone to read unless you are 100% sure that they will understand that it means something – because people flippantly say things and then don’t deliver (I’m guilty of this myself)

Having a writing partner was invaluable – my wonderful friend and writing partner J was the only person who actually read and critiqued my work from a readers point of view. It was almost finished by then but i did need someone to read it for plot holes etc. Because I had worked with J before for hours and hours in google drive – writing screenplays together I knew i could trust her to be honest with me. Writing with a partner is hard work because artistic egos can be an issue at first. i have a lot of respect for writing teams because it does take discipline to be that person as writing is naturally a very lonely art.

Sending my work off to agents, – well I was waiting for a lady i knew who was showing it to her agent – she had sent it to a “Reader” for me, which took a few weeks.  it was a couple of weeks after the reader before i heard back and then I heard back with a NO thanks – not our thing – which was fine, i was kind of expecting that. – even though you are always hoping for an offer of representation – you always expect the rejection – its better to be that way – trust me, Its fine to be disappointed when the rejections come – if your work is strong and you believe in it then just keep sending it away. Anyway the woman said she had another agent to show it to. this was about the time I got impatient – my work had been “finished” for about 3 months now and i thought now was the time to do it myself and send it away. So I sent it to a few agents – I was lucky that I heard back a week later to ask for the rest of my book and then a week later for offer of representation – which seems super fast but when you factor in everything else it really wasn’t.

So then my agent gave me some advice on things that needed tweaking or changing and i did that within a few days because really it was continuity issues over anything else and that just required perseverance rather than inspiration. Now my agent has pitched to 22 publishers and i find myself waiting again. Every day i check my email and every day there is nothing. My other half made me email my agent for an update just a week after pitching but I knew it was too soon. i don’t know how long its going to take so in the mean time I keep myself busy by writing blogs and trying to rack up my word count on the new books (which is at 56.5k thanks for asking)  and intermittently going on facebook to look at other peoples mind vomit.

Worse than waiting though, is not waiting.is selling your work short by sending it out before its finished. by not rewriting and editing because you are impatient. Do your work the justice it deserves by making it the best thing you could possibly write at this moment in time – not just something that “will do”

Good luck to me, to you and to anyone else on this crazy ride.

I watch a lot of television. I try at least to watch any drama show that has been renewed for a second season – my reasoning is this – these shows must have something that keeps the audience coming back.

I don’t know about you but when i do anything I am analysing it from the perspective of how it would work in a book or a screenplay, every. single. interaction. I am no more critical than when i read (or watch) other peoples work. Not to pull it apart to find the flaws, but to find the gems in it, the things that make me FEEL something.

It occurs to me in life that I am a voyeur, constantly evaluating and interpreting life in a way that I can translate what I have learned to other people, through my writing.

Sometimes if i am honest I just don’t get it, some TV shows have me baffled, without naming any names, I just don’t understand the appeal.

I like action movies, I like the simplicity of them (although I could never write one, i would be out of my depth) – and sometimes the things that look the simplest are actually the hardest things to pull off. Its a true talent that, making something look simple – and i don’t mean making something look like you wrote it in one go and then made it in one go, I’m talking about something so well put together that you don’t even really notice how its put together. (I know what i mean)

What i like the most is the subtlety of thought that is brought out in me – something that challenges what i believe about myself – something that i think i have always believed – to be forced to question myself.

Something else I like is revenge, revenge is sexy, no matter how long it takes, to see the balance restored is something that’s very appealing to me. One of my favourite Tv shows of all time is OZ – I faced a lot of personal moral dilemmas when watching that one. To feel sorry for the bad guys, to see a hierarchy of bad guys and wondering who is the worst, and realising how easy it is to forgive and empathise with someone who you once hated. my favourite character in this series was Ryan O Reilly, played by dean winters, who , aside from having the sexiest voice in the history of voices, is a truly excellent actor as the manipulative addict  in this scene that im about to show you Ryan is talking to Patrick, a fellow irishman in prison – he knows that patrick has raped the prison doctor, a woman that ryan is absolutely obsessed with, because its something to do, but he does it wholeheartedly and without condition, she is seriously creeped out by him. Ryan doesnt get his hands dirty he manipulates until he gets what he wants, thats why this scene was so striking and sexy – and why its probably one of my favourite tv moments ever. (link below)

Ill talk more in other posts about other tv moments i like – but that one gets me every time.

Until next time

Well, I haven’t touched this Blog for quite some time and I have been completely immersed in my own world. To say i have been writing would be a lie, I had some intense writers block almost since christmas. Stopping for any kind of prolonged break seems to pull me out of the moment and I have to force myself back into it.

To get back into it i read my own words, over and over until something sparks and I see a change i need to make, after the first 10 or so ideas it starts to come easier, but I must keep the momentum going or i lose the thread again.

It seems ridiculous to be able to write 45,000 words of a crime fiction novel, not only without any significant deaths, but also without any real idea about the killer or the motivations of the killer. I guess there is maybe some part of me that feels if it comes easy to me then it will be easy to figure out for any crime reader. Although my primary goal is to fool the characters in the book and not my audience, but there does indeed need to be some mystery there. So finally i worked out who my murderer is, and its a good feeling because everything else is falling into place, the words I have already said have taken on new meaning, which is also exciting (for me at least). As i have said before many times – I like my men like I like my biscuits : broken.

I create a spreadsheet and divide the cells into chapters, protagonist for each chapter, what they need to learn and what the audience needs to learn that they dont. I also suggest things to myself that maybe need to be included, hints at things to come etc. I also have a predicted wordcount for each chapter and actual wordcount, all tallied at the bottom and against each other so that i can see what needs fleshing out, what needs trimming down and how much I have left to do. My bizarre mathematical way of writing seems to help, my inability to finish  ANYTHING is hampered by the system I have engaged. a complex excel spreadsheet and lots of maths – which would seem to have no place in creative writing, but seeing the numbers go down , not only helps me when it comes to knowing how long each chapter should be, but how long i have to impart certain information and which phases go where. I guess I need to be organised in my mind or nothing works. Its possible this comes from my brief (not so brief) foray into screenwriting, where scenes and sequences are everything.

I have a few minor adjustments to make to my first novel UNKINDNESS and then i can continue with this next novel, about human trafficking, a subject which horrifies and disgusts me. I guess thats a part of the key too, find something you feel passionate about, something you want to relay your thoughts on.

until next time

Kat 🙂