5 Myths about Literary Agents (And How I Got Mine)

Sunday, June 28th 2015 • Advice, Querying, Writing

Greetings, wonderful people! I am beyond thrilled to announce that I am now officially represented by literary agent Logan Garrison of The Gernert Company. I cannot wait to start on this next phase of my author career and get my new novel out there. This has been a long journey of querying, revising, crying, querying, revising, celebrating, crying, and more revising. For those of you unfamiliar with what I mean by querying, allow me to give you a brief window into the querying process and how one goes about getting a literary agent.

Step 1. Write and polish book.
Step 2. Research potential literary agents.
Step 3. Query these agents by sending them an e-mail or letter about your book.
Step 4. Wait for rejection or requests for more pages to come back.
Step 5. Wait some more.

After these first five steps, the process gets ever murkier. Some agents may send you notes after they read the full manuscript. If these notes resonate, you can make these changes. If they don’t, you keep querying. Finally, if someone loves your manuscript, they will e-mail or call you and offer to represent you. This is the part where you scream and dance and make your landlord run over to see if everything’s okay.

Now, before you jump into this process, there are some myths that I would like to dispel. Keep in mind that these are all based on my personal experience, and I’m sure that there are some agents out there that people would say these myths are absolutely true of. I can only speak for myself and my own querying experience.

Myth #1. Literary agents hate writers.

There is this vision of the literary agent as some kind of evil gatekeeper. They sit between you and Publishing Castle, glaring and throwing rotten fruit at writers that approach. Try to give them your manuscript and they will tear it apart and tell you that they wouldn’t dream of reading this kind of garbage. Or, worse yet, they will just ignore you and stand between you and Publishing Castle without any explanation. Poke them or nudge them, and they’ll stand resolute against you.

This vision is simply not true. (Continue Reading…)

Summers are for writers (and lovers, too).

Thursday, June 4th 2015 • Advice, Goals

I am writing this with a calendar full of dates spread out in front of me. The calendar’s covered in four different pen colors from all the dates that I’ve circled and crossed out and written on. The calendar’s full up on trainings, conferences, weddings, planning, appointments, and more. In fact, I can’t remember a summer this packed full of things to do.

If you know me, you know that my summers are for writing. They’re for hiding away in coffee shops and finishing a book. That will be me this summer, too, but I’ll admit that it’s a bit more daunting this year than usual.

But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be writing!

At a time like this, I remind myself of the strategies that I’ve used before to break through busy periods. I like to give myself notecards with scenes to write on and an outline to follow. I know that I will need all the structure in the world to finish this book, but I also know that I can do it. I also know that every book needs a little life, so I also know that I want to enjoy all that this summer has to offer.

So, wish me luck, wonderful readers. Next time I check in, I hope to be telling you about another finished summer novel.

Until next time,

V

5 Reasons Why You Need a Writing Community

Tuesday, February 17th 2015 • Advice, Writing

Taken from WillWriteForChocolate.com

WillWriteForChocolate.com

As a Creative Writing major in college, I had a writing community built in. I would show up to my two or three (or sometimes four) writing classes a day, freshly printed drafts in hand, and pass them out for workshopping. There was structure for the feedback we received: sometimes, peers had to write comments on the drafts, or they were graded for telling us the positives and negatives during class. It was fluid, varied based on our different professors, but it was always there, that community. That community that made sure that, at the end of the day, I had written something. And more than that, people read it, and then they told me all about how they felt.

I cannot stress enough how important something like this is for a writer, and how much better it makes your writing. I also cannot tell you how hard it can be to find and keep this community, but let’s get to that next time. For now, let me tell you five reasons why you need a writing community.

Reason #1: Writing is not a solitary job.
No matter what you have been told, writing is not something that you do alone. You do not disappear into a coffee shop, hammer on your keyboard for five hours, and produce a perfect draft. Beyond that, when it gets to publishing, you will never be able to avoid people (whether you want to or not). There will be someone telling you to put more conflict here, to take out the description here, to hack off a chapter or two. Even if you go the self-publishing route and you do the cover, the editing, the formatting, and everything else by yourself, there will still be that last part. You know, the one where someone reads your work. A writing community helps make sure that you’re ready for those parts where other people get involved. They’ll save you by telling you that you named one of the characters two different things. They’ll tell you that the pace is too fast, or maybe they’ll tell you that it’s not fast enough. They’ll point out plot points that you weren’t following. It helps because, even if you don’t take the feedback, you’ll at least make every decision knowingly. If someone says they find your protagonist unlikable in a review, you can be confident knowing that you knew that, that you intended that. It will make all the difference.

Reason #2: Writers understand you.
Imagine that you’re out to dinner, listening to your friend’s story, when suddenly, you hear it. Someone having a hissed argument right next to you, and you know that it’s just the right dialogue for your story. If you’re like me, your hand’s itching to grab the notebook in your purse to write it down. If you’re with another writer, there’s no question. That notebook’s out before they finish their sentence, no apologies needed. It’s the beauty that comes with befriending other writers: they get that there’s no pause button on life, and when you see a great writing opportunity, you need to take it.

Reason #3: They know all of the great writing places (coffee shops, museums, and secret hideaways).
There are no exceptions to this rule. My writing friends have introduced me to some truly incredible spots.

Reason #4: They care more about your characters than you do.
It makes all the difference. In the past, I’ve felt beaten up by a draft, and then I walked into a critique group where people were asking about my characters. They wanted to know if I’d worked on a specific scene, or if I’d fixed my villain issue. Hearing that concern, or hearing that people wanted me to finish something, was enough to keep me writing.

Reason #5: This is a hard business, and you need friends.
It’s true. We face so much rejections as writers, and we face it at every stage. Ideas might be off, or a chapter might not work, or our favorite agent might turn down our best project. That’s when you need other writers to lift you up and to tell you to just write 200 more words. Then 500 more. Then, before you know it, you’ve written the entire draft.

Happy writing!

V

Five of the Best Tips from Books on Writing

Friday, October 3rd 2014 • Advice

Good morning readers!

I come to you today after some hours of editing, writing, editing, reading, and writing. I’ve been guarding my writing time, but life has been so busy! In that spirit, today I present you with some of the best writing books (and the best advice from each one) to jumpstart any writing block that you may have.

5. Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing

Best advice: “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
On Writing is by far one of the best books a writer can read. Part memoir, part craft, it’s pointed advice that will motivate you. King also tells writers a lot of what they don’t want to hear: it will be tough, you need to edit, you need to read, this is a job, and more. If you need a kick in the tail, this is the book to do it.

4. Robert McKee, Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting

Story

Best advice: “True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”
Story is technically for screenwriters, but every writer needs to read it. This book is gold for character-building and structure. If your protagonist isn’t multifaceted, or if your story arc seems to be missing something, just read the first few chapters of this book. Soon, your characters will shine, and so will your plot.

3. Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Zen in the Art of Writing

Best advice: “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
Zen in the Art of Writing is the book that tells you to treasure your ideas, to celebrate your oddities, and to be true to the story that you’re trying to tell. This book teaches you to be a story whisperer of sorts, someone who can sort through the mounting pile of ideas and pick out the gold. It’s also full of practical advice about character and plot, but it’s more about understanding the life of a writer at its core.

2. Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

Writer's Journey

Best advice: “It is a very strong rule in drama, and in life, that people remain true to their basic natures. They change, and their change is essential for drama, but typically they only change a little, taking a single step towards integrating a forgotten or rejected quality into their natures.”
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers could be used in a way that is harmful to writing. It can read as a formula if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you come to it with an open mind, it can show you what you’re missing. It speaks the structure of ancient myths, full of plot points and archetypes that may just speak to what you need.

1. Books!

Girl in Library

Best advice: These are the masters. Let them show you how it’s done.
You can read all of the writing books you want to, but nothing can teach your plot, character, structure, world-building, and more like reading far and wide. Read every single day. Read genres you don’t normally read. Watch classic films and read the screenplays. You will learn storytelling the way that it was meant to be learned, and your writing will be better for it.

Until next time,

V

Images via Google and Goodreads.

© 2013 Veronica Bane. All Rights Reserved.