Archive for April, 2011

Elevator Pitches

Well, I’ve just sent off my very first registration for my very first writers’ event. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Agents Day.

Of course, nothing in my life can be uncomplicated, so the post office returned the registration for insufficient postage four days later. I put another stamp on it and put it back in the mail box. Hopefully, I’ll still get in and they won’t hold it against me that the post office chose to wait until one day after the deadline to return it to me.

Most writers tend to be on the introverted side and I’m no exception, so this is going to be a real stretch for me. Probably, almost certainly, a stretch I need to make. That’s not going to make it any easier.

So, in honor of this event, I need to start working on my neglected elevator pitches for my current works (not counting those on the shelf or about to be put on the shelf).

Pitiful as they are, here’s what I have right now:

  1. BLOOD WILL TELL (In revision): Even Los Angeles may not be a big enough hiding place when a half-werewolf and a dragon unite to protect an innocent woman from a murderer.
  2. MAGE STORM (Complete): Magic is supposedly dead in Rell’s world, but when he finds himself ‘gifted’ with magic he doesn’t know how to control, he’s ostracized from his family and runs away to find someone who can help him learn to use his magic safely.
  3. SEVEN STARS (In first draft): A young woman warrior struggling with the berserker curse in her blood and a young prince whose gullibility put him on the wrong side of the walls at the beginning of a siege are the only hope to save a kingdom.
  4. THE BARD’S GIFT (In development): A young woman living on the frontier of a new world must learn to cope with an ancient gift amid the challenges of wresting a new home from dragons and malevolent neighbors.

Pretty bad. Obviously, I’ve got a lot of work to do over the next month.

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It sounds like an oxymoron: revision fun. But there are parts of the revision process that can be fun. One of those is when you essentially get to go back into first draft mode to add something or significantly change something.

The first thing I did on this revision of BLOOD WILL TELL was write most of a new first chapter. Along the way, I’ve added or added to a couple of scenes and changed some until they’re almost unrecognizable.

Now I’ve come to a place where I essentially get to add a new chapter again. I killed virtually al of the existing chapter (I think about a paragraph may remain.) and redid it with a totally different idea.  Some of this was necessary because of other changes I was making, some was generated by comments from one of my readers, and some was just the new ideas that comment sparked.

The new chapter will probably need its own little revision. I think it’s too heavy on interior monologue and a bit short on action right now. But I really like the idea.

This is now the first real introduction of my antagonist, at about a third of the way through the story. (He’s been seen before, but without revealing his role.) 

One of the things I had decided on this revision was that I had spent too much time in the antagonist’s point of view. By showing his repeated attempts to kill the protagonists, I ended up making him look a little bumbling and kept him from being a credible threat at the climax. Of course the protagonists have to squirm out of his traps. If he succeeds in killing them the story would end a bit prematurely. But showing him plotting and gnashing his teeth over his failures emphasized them a little too much.

One of my great readers suggested at this particular point that the antagonist could succeed or partly succeed, because at the moment he’s not trying to kill the protagonists, just steal something. That got me thinking, which is one of the greatest things a critique can do for you (thanks, Robin). I came up with a way for him to succeed, but not realize it.

Then I had a wild inspiration out of nowhere to include a character that died very early in the story as a ghost. This is a whole new element in the story and it impacts a later scene in the same location as well.

Best of all, it makes working on this part of the revision a whole lot more fun.

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Well, after David Farland’s pep talk last week on “How to Sell Your Novel”, I’ve decided to give BLOOD WILL TELL another try through the traditional channels, after the revisions of course. E-publishing isn’t going away. It will still be there–maybe better and easier–when I’m ready.  (I probably will still stick a toe in those waters with a couple of short stories. We’ll see.)

Revisions on BLOOD WILL TELL continue roughly on schedule, if not as fast as I would really like. Still, all things considered. . .  Yesterday, I finished changing one transition into a scene and well, I don’t think the other quite comes up to the level of a scene, but I at least dug deeper. I wrote one whole new scene and added material to another. Not a bad day’s work.

Those additions are mostly for the purpose of showing earlier exactly what is driving my main character. Not only her main motivations, but her fears and the things that she believes (some of which will turn out not to be true). All good and necessary things.

And as I work on these scenes from the beginning, I’m working out some revelations about my characters. The critiques helped me see some things in a new light. I think I sufficiently tortured my main character, but I may have been a bit too easy on my side characters. The love interest gets tortured for a while, too. But his transformation may be just a bit too easy. And, darn it, it’s a source of conflict which I wasted. Can’t let that happen. They ought to have at least one good argument over it and let him think he’s losing her again, before he finally finds the way to change.

I’m still struggling a bit with the sidekick. I’ve tried to give her a little more rounding in the early chapters, but I don’t know if I’ve succeeded, yet. I’ve got a scene coming up later today (hopefully) that I’m going to recast into her point of view. I actually haven’t had a scene in her point of view yet. That’s something I may have to fix later. She seems weak and fragile, shy and naive to the other characters. So, of course, that’s how the reader sees her, too. To a degree, that’s what I want them to see. But to some readers she was just too useless to live. I have to fix that. This scene should give me a chance to show at least a little interior toughness and resolve.

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