Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What comes next?

Now that I have successfully written a complete story and decided that I am a writer, what comes next? Research. There is so much to learn about this industry. Luckily, there are lots of resources available to help any aspiring writer. Last month I began 'collecting' blogs and websites that I feel to be informative and enjoyable dealing with the world of writing and publishing. The idea is to educate myself with the terminology, process and secrets of the trade to gain every possible advantage. I've also been reading how to books on writing, editing, submitting, and getting published. There are so many great books and sites out there, and I know that I've only scratched the surface, but here are some of my favorites so far.

Books:
  • Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by David Gerrold Science fiction "is about what's possible," while "fantasy is about what's not." Writing for both these genres is a lot like "playing with a set of Lego bricks," Gerrold says: you're creating your own world, but you have to work within a logical framework.
  • Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) by Orson Scott Card Orson Scott Card presents practical, in-depth instruction on how fiction writers can make the best choices in creating characters and handling viewpoint. The author shows how to put original yet realistic people into fiction.
  • The First Five Pages: A Writers Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman The difference between The First Five Pages and most books on writing is that the others are written by teachers and writers. This one comes from a literary agent--one whose clients include Pulitzer Prize nominees, New York Times bestselling authors, Pushcart Prize recipients, and American Book Award winners. Noah Lukeman is not trying to impart the finer points of writing well. He wants to teach you "how to identify and avoid bad writing," so that your manuscript doesn't come boomeranging back to you in that self-addressed, stamped envelope. (I LOVED this book!)
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, 2nd Edition: How to edit yourself into print by Renni Browne, Dave King Renni Browne, veteran of William Morrow and other publishers, founded the Editorial Department in 1980 to teach fiction writers the techniques professional editors (many of whom have gone independent) use to prepare a manuscript for publication. In this book, she and senior editor Dave King share their accumulated expertise in a series of brilliantly compact lessons.
  • Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript by Chuck Sambuchino Featuring more than 100 example query letters, proposals, and synopses, the 3rd edition of Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript gives you more detailed and concrete instruction than ever before! This new edition features expanded instruction for e-mail submissions, updated formatting and submitting guidelines, insider tips from agents and editors, and much more. Increase your chances of publication by submitting your manuscript the right way--let this book be your guide.
Blogs and Websites:
I was about to make a big list and remembered that I've already done that! See the sidebar. The Nathan Bransford is one of my favorites. You can also join his forums to converse with other writers. And then there is Scott Westerfeld whom I adore (Uglies, The Midnighters, Peeps, So Yesterday)! He also has a new forum and a new steampunk book out called Leviathan (now out in the US). I'm on the wait list at the library.

I have recently found some new blogs that I have not added to the sidebar as yet. Here are a few that I am browsing.

Daily Writing Tips
Mike's Writing Workshop
Writing Forward

So, now I am working on making my book as close to perfect as possible before approaching an agent. This is where the really hard work starts, and it is my focus for the next three or four months. By the summer I hope to be at the point to take the first and perhaps most terrifying step--trying to get a recommendation or two from some of my favorite authors. My understanding is that if you can get a well known author in your genre to read your work and give it a thumbs up, you will have a better chance of having your manuscript looked at. Remember, according to "The First Five Pages" an agents job is to see how many books they can toss from their pile.

Anyway, I think this sounds more terrifying than approaching complete strangers (the agents), because I would query an author that I have a relationship with through my years of reading. I have already picked a handful of authors that I love and respect their work. My biggest problem is getting past the "who am I to bother them?" syndrome. I know they are busy and probably get asked "favors" all the time by us new aspiring writers. Then again, they seem so normal and personable on their blogs... Eh, it all comes back to what do I have to lose? Nothing.

Now, to stop reading and get back to writing...

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