Monday, November 28, 2011
Or do you shudder at the idea of revising, editing, and proofreading your manuscript as many as seventy-two times? (Yes, that’s the latest statistic I’ve heard from successful, multi-pubbed authors.) Perfecting your craft and fine-tuning your manuscript is tough work and not for the faint of heart.
So what should you do?
Take a leaf out of your own book and do what your characters do: they persevere. They don’t give up.
When your characters confront external obstacles, do they shrug and walk away? No. When their goals are too distant to grasp, do your characters decide those goals aren’t really worth the effort after all? Unlikely. When your characters’ motivations evolve and reshape their thoughts and actions in scary or unfamiliar ways, do they race back to their comfort zones—and stay there? No—not if your plot and character arcs progress properly.
Or what about the young men on my local high school football team, which was undefeated…until yesterday? Those boys worked hard seven days a week, often in the cold and pouring rain, to finish their season only one game away from the state championship—a new record for our town. The student fans, parents, and community members who attended every game (sometimes driving hours each way and usually filling the visitors’ stands more than the home team stands were) were so supportive of those boys that newspaper articles mentioned the team’s “twelfth man on the field” and its impact on the team’s success and morale. One fan’s story sticks in my mind: She didn’t have a son on the team, yet she made a protein-packed tuna fish sandwich every week for the team’s running back—despite being at her mother’s side nearly 24/7 for weeks following the mother’s October heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery. Some weeks the woman used high-end tuna, or more expensive bread, or fat-free mayonnaise, all in an effort to keep the sandwich interesting and to give the player even a tiny edge—or so she said. In reality, she demonstrated and reciprocated the boys’ inspiring commitment to their goals, and overcame roadblocks and challenges and turmoil.
So where do these football players and fans—and your own book’s characters—draw their strength to trudge onward, despite the obstacles, the big goals, and the unknown path to the end zone—or the happily ever after?
I don’t know, actually, where the real-life characters draw their strength from. It’s different for each of us, I bet. But your fictional characters get their determination from you. You created them and festooned them with their traits—good and bad—and imbued them with appropriate goals, motivations, and conflicts. You’ve given birth to them. They’re yours. And, once born, they will always exist.
You can use them to help inspire yourself—to persevere, to not give up, to forge ahead, and to tackle the obstacles, including the internal ones. You’ve created those characters and guided them to a happily ever after, so you have it in you to do the same for yourself and finish your manuscript. Right?
And along the way, eat a tuna fish sandwich or two.
By Lori LeBonde
Scarlet Rose Editor
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Experience is an author's most valuable asset; experience is the thing that puts the muscle and the breath and the warm blood into the book he writes.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Happy Veterans Day to all of you who have served our country and our gratitude to the families who stayed behind and worried and loved you. All of you deserve this day of thanks and I sincerely hope you feel the love of those of us who you so bravely protected.
Monday, November 7, 2011
I love this time of year. The days are getting shorter, leaves are falling, and the holidays are just around the corner. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite celebrations. I began working at The Wild Rose Press around this time several years ago. My name is Anne Seymour, and I currently work as an editor on the Crimson Rose line. I always love a good mystery, especially when the hero is as hot as the suspense.
The one aspect, in my opinion, that marks the difference between just a manuscript and a GREAT MANUSCRIPT is THE FIRST FIVE PAGES. During this critical point in a story, the author must pull the reader in and hook their interest, or the reader will become apathetic toward the characters—and probably not finish reading the book.
Sounds shocking, right? How can an author open a grand story, introduce sympathetic characters and evil villains, begin the action and conflict, but yet confine all above mentioned aspects to a mere FIVE PAGES? An insurmountable task one might say, right? But maybe not; let’s discuss the basics now.
First, we must unlearn all that we have learned previously about writing. I studied all the great works in Literature during college. James Fennimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Henry James, etc. wrote stories in omniscient point of view employing the writing method of “telling” the action instead of “showing” it. This technique removes the reader from the action of the story instead of insisting the reader to take part with the characters in the act. A reader must be immersed in the action and emotionally involved with the characters by the end of the fifth page of a story. Make the reader unable to do anything but participate with your characters.
Next, find an opening line that will grab attention. For example, “Take it easy. It’s not like I’m going anywhere.” Sunny jerked her arms back hoping to slow the pace of the large-framed detective who continued to drag her from the bar with unwavering force. “Calm down, Wildcat. You’re only making it harder on yourself.” He didn’t slow his stride, or ease the firm grasp he had on her arm as he walked beside her.” In this example, (Some Like It In Handcuffs by Christine Warner—coming soon from The Wild Rose Press) the author introduces the hero and heroine within the first four sentences while adding humor and sexual tension. The reader is hooked now, determined to learn more and join the story.
Finally, make sure to include ONLY necessary information at this time. The first five pages are not for any of the following:
n Back-story: while back-story will be needed in any novel, it should never appear in the first five pages! Use back-story sparingly and only when needed throughout the novel, but never allow it to be longer than a few paragraphs at a time.
n Secondary Characters: Introduce these characters later in the story. Reserve the main characters (hero, heroine, & villain (if there is one)) for the beginning.
n Descriptive or Non-Action Scenes: Describe the setting later. The first five pages should not be filled with paragraphs of how beautiful the sky, trees and meadows are. Also, no Non-Action scenes! Start with a fight scene, a murder, etc. Grab attention.
While this is a brief overview, I hope I’ve mentioned good points to consider. If any are interested in another more in-depth discussion, please comment and let me know. I would be happy to offer another blog discussing this further. Until then, enjoy the season and keep writing!