Thursday, 22 March 2012

Writing Notes

Music has always been a big influence on my writing. I know I'm not alone in this - lots of writers are eager to post playlists for their current WIP or published work. And I will no doubt post a list of songs to accompany my book - if and when it gets published...

But in the meantime, I find myself listening over and over again to one of the songs that has influenced Purge. I'm going to be specific here - the rewriting of Purge, since I originally drafted it 2 or 3 years ago. Obviously, I was listening to different music then than I am now, because I am a music JUNKIE. But one song has really had an impact on the tone of the rewrites and the finished manuscript as a whole - here it is:

This, if pushed, would be the song I'd hold up as defining Purge for me. I'd add about 20 others to it in a real playlist, but as a headliner - this is it. There's a forlorn, desolate quality to it that perfectly sums up part of the novel, but there's still an upbeatness to it (yes, I can make up words - it's my blog), and I absolutely love the line: "I never knew daylight could be so violent..." *Sigh* This song is just all kinds of perfect for Purge.  

So, which song defines your story? Or which one will always make you get that feeling you had when the idea for your novel first exploded inside your head? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Cutting Room

It's halfway through the weekend I'd set aside for editing, and I find myself in the weird position of having, er, finished. With a day to spare.


So I find myself wondering how I've managed to get it done so quickly - and the answer is that I have, it seems, found my editing groove.

The Editing Specs.
Some serious shiz right there.
I'm doing a bit of random shrugging as I write this, because I'm certainly not an expert when it comes to editing. What I have done, though, is find the editing method that works for me. If you're a writer too, you'll probably have your own process - which might include things like reading your work aloud, editing chapter by chapter with a crit partner, rewriting scenes from different POVs to see what works best, even paying a professional to edit for you... whatever. There are loads of ways you can edit.

Mine is... put the bloody thing away for 2 years, then hatchet-edit the whole MS before going back to do smooth edits. That's it. And it's taken me 2 years and about a week to do this (including shoved-in-a-drawer time). As painful as it is to admit, that time spent away from my WIP was exactly what I needed to figure out what I really wanted to do with the story, and helped me gain enough perspective to see what worked and what didn't.

I hope.

So this WIP is now going out to the betas, then I'll probably be doing a little fixin' based on their comments. THEN it'll be query time, folks!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Competitive Streak

Apologies for the silence of late. The truth is, I've been busy - busy getting my write on for some amazing query contests!

As I've mentioned in other posts, I'm currently doing the query rounds with my novel, Hellfire. (By the by, I've made some progress on that front - another few partial requests and 2 full requests since I last updated. Even the rejections I'm getting are becoming more personalised and detailed, which I'm taking as a positive and using as an opportunity to ease the way for future queries with those agents. Yes - bwahaha. ) What I've also been doing - and this is what has been keeping me so busy - is entering online query competitions.

So far I have found a few sites that run these contests - usually where a pitch and first 250 words or so of your completed manuscript are entered into a judging round before being posted for agents to bid on. It's very much a machine-gun approach to querying as there can be quite a few agents involved - which has its pros and cons...

  • If your pitch and first part of your MS are as attention-grabbing and polished as they can be, this is a great time-saving way to query a number of agents who are looking for books in your genre (most contests I've found have been genre-limited to some extent).
  • It can be a really good way to get feedback on your pitch and first however-many words, whether from the judging panel or comments from the public (if these are allowed).
  • It can be a good way to query an agent who you may not otherwise get a chance to.  Some agents take part in these competitions who are otherwise closed to unsolicited queries, or whose submission guidelines might be a little off-putting (my own experience of this was where an agent asked for a list of any agents I had previously queried... I mean, how is that ever going to do me any favours?)
  • If your pitch/first bit aren't quite up to scratch, then you're eliminating a lot of agents you could potentially query once you have polished them to a high gleam. No, this may not be set-in-stone, as you could still query the agents from the contest again after revising your work... but don't you want to win them over the first time they read it?
  • It's can feel very much like a public flogging if you get critical or negative comments, and it's unlikely that you will be allowed to make changes to your submission before the end of the contest - so it's up there for all to see for however long the contest runs.
  • If you're as enthusiastic (read: obsessive) about these things as I am, then you'll be spending a lot of time stalking the site where your submission is posted, anxiously hitting 'refresh' to check for new comments. If, like me, you're not in a US time zone, this can lead to a few late nights!
  • Entering these contests can be really nerve-wracking. Maybe this should also be a pro, though, because they are very exciting both to watch and take part in... hmm. I'll let you decide.
I've only stumbled across a few of these contests so far, but if you follow writerly types on twitter (ahem, including me), you'll be sure to hear about them if you'd like your chance to enter.

I'm currently taking part in Pitch Madness (check out #pitchmadness on twitter for more info), so am waiting to hear if my submission has made it past the 4 judges into the agent bidding round. Any and all crossed fingers are appreciated! I'll let you know how it goes.