Juggling Writing Projects

As it stands, I’m waiting on two more beta readers to give me feedback on REMNANT OF US before I start working on draft 14 of that manuscript. At the same time, I’ve substantially started two other fiction projects: one concerning a demon protagonist, and the other concerning superheroes.

And, yeah, this is a writing post. You’ve been warned.

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Here Comes Draft Thirteen – Editing, Querying, and… Indie-ing

Editingso much editing.

Captain Hindsight on Editing Your Novel

Thank you, Captain Hindsight!

I began my blog seven months ago while working on draft six of my novel.

Since then, I’ve made so many major revisions to this manuscript that it’s nearly unrecognizable from its earlier versions. If not for the names of the protagonists, draft one and draft twelve might seem like they’re set in entirely different worlds. Place names and supporting character names have changed drastically, the structure of the plot has been broken down and pieced back together in so many different ways, and the overall pacing of the novel has (supposedly) been improved to read faster from beginning to end with a surge of adrenaline near the climax.

The process of editing this novel is already many times longer than writing the initial draft and that’s how it should be (I’ll say it again, a novel simply cannot be “finished” until it’s been edited, repeatedly—first, for plot structure, pacing, and feasibility; a focus on grammar, spelling, and typos comes later).

With every round of editing, it was clear that my MS was getting stronger and stronger. However, the feeling that the novel would never be perfect just does not go away. So, my current plan is to go for something “as close to perfect as possible, given a reasonable span of time and amount of effort” (don’t ask me how many years is too long, and how much effort is too much). Continue reading

A Good Hook or a Pile of Cheese?

Tilsit Cheese by John Sullivan - Public Domain Image

Hopping along the interwebs, I’ve seen a lot of agent query hooksthe one or two sentences that’re supposed to grab a literary agent’s attention. A few are good, some are horrible, but most are just okay (and being “just okay” generally won’t get you anywhere).

Keeping in mind that it’s in the nature of fiction to be subjective, I’ve noticed a lot of hooks deemed good by others aren’t particularly pleasing to me. If I were drinking my skinny caramel latte while reading these things, my computer would be in danger of being splattered with coffee, low-fat milk, and artificial flavoring. A lot of these so-called good hooks reek of cheesiness.

And, well, cheese seems to work. Continue reading

Check-in Post, 12/27/14

Now that you’ve had a full two minutes to marvel at the awesome title of this post—

With weddings to go to on the opposite side of California, holidays with family, a two-week cold, and planning for upcoming travels, I haven’t made much time to post on this blog or work on my novel in recent weeks. Here’s a brief update:

Traveling Again

Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton - Ray and Debra Barone in ItalyAs I’ll be going back to certain countries in Europe and Asia soon, I wanted to do some A.D.M. Was Here posts about my past trips before setting out again. That’s not going to happen, but I might write those posts while I’m revisiting those locations (I do like going to cafes in different countries and doing work there—feels a bit more like you live there, doing regular stuff while also taking in the local ambiance).

Coincidentally, as I sat down to write this, I chose a random season of Everybody Loves Raymond on Netflix and ended up with the episode where the Barones go to Italy (where I should be soon).

State of the Novel

I’m about 20,000 words into the second book of my series right now, and I’m currently waiting on some beta reader feedback before I go back and edit my first book yet again. Then, I’ll send out another batch of queries to potential agents. Hopefully, I can get some of this done on my many impending train rides, and also do some more research for indie publishing.

A Superhero, the Post-apocalypse, and World Domination

Infamous 2 - Cole MacGrath - Sucker PunchWhile sitting at home to nurse my cold, I’ve been going through a backlog of PS3 games I never finished, including Infamous 2 by Sucker Punch and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West by Ninja Theory. On top of that, I’ve been playing hours upon hours of Sid Meier’s Civilization V on the PC.

Infamous 2 has some questionable character designs and the story kind of fizzles out at the end (no matter which ending you go with), but the game is enjoyable. Enslaved is also fun, though the story isn’t as intriguing as reviews led me to believe (but it was compelling enough through the majority of the game), and there are a few glitches here and there (none of which are game-breaking, so it’s fine). Finally, judging from the many hours I’ve spent on Civilization V, it’s fairly safe to conclude that I think the Sid Meier game is worthwhile.

Pitching Fiction without a High Concept

One Does Not Simply Meme High Concept VS Low Concept Fiction A.D. Martin

Thanks to the recession and other factors in recent years, many literary agents and publishers now have a more vocal preference for novels with a high concept. High-concept work, to put it simply, is work that’s easy to pitch effectively.

To define high-concept less simply . . .

To be high-concept, a work must be: (1) highly original; (2) widely appealing; (3) easy to visualize; and (4) easy to sum up in three sentences or less while demonstrating the first three elements.

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First Agent Responses

Success Baby Meme Manuscript RequestSince I started querying agents who take my genre last Thursday, I’ve had requests come sandwiched by rejections: rejection, partial request, rejection, full request, rejection.

Unlikely as it may be, I’m hoping the trend continues, because that ratio would be pretty darn good.

As you’d expect, the requests made me feel like the Success Kid (see the meme I’m sticking in this post), but the rejection letters reminded me I’m not an adorable toddler with sand on his chubby fist. Rather, I’m an adult with a novel that, statistically speaking, has a very low chance of landing an agent. So, I sent off the partial and full manuscript as requested, but I’m trying to stay grounded by focusing on my “day job” and continuing my efforts to polish my manuscript.

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And, so it begins – Agent Query Time

The path to publication: write, write, write, research, research, research, edit, edit, edit, query, query, query, and then you cry.

Peter Parker Crying Meme Sends Agent Query Misspells Agent's NameWell, I’m currently on that first “query,” so I have some time yet before I’m scheduled to shed my special writer tears. Against the advice of one “Mr. Lardo,” I went ahead and sent out a batch of queries at the end of the week as opposed to early Monday morning. I expect I’ll be sending out many more queries, so a few poorly timed ones can’t hurt too much, can it? CAN IT?!

Wish me luck, jerks (and non-jerks).

-A.D. Martin