Monday, February 21, 2011

How to Re-work It

Here's a bit of doggerel I wrote this weekend during SCWC. It was after my query class yesterday--which was a great group, by the way--and I just wrote it so I had an excuse to go to Ed Decker's Poetry Cram workshop. What fun to listen to so many talented poets!
Anyway, this is for all the hard-working writers out there who, inspired by all the comments, critiques, and insights shared with them, are already busily re-working their stories, chapters, scenes, and lines.

How to Re-work It
Make it much tighter, make it much shorter
Clarify structure, define every border
Speed the pace, describe the place
Focus on detail--is it ale or porter?

Know your characters, find your antagonist
Of behaviors and habits, make a long list
Learn to know, then let it go
Distill and simplify it down to the gist

Find the humor, keep the pathos, see it from above
If the conflict or drama flags, give a gentle shove
Rewrite it again, rework that refrain
And don't forget to do it all from a place of love

Next Saturday is my editing workshop at San Diego Writers, Ink. The location is downtown San Diego--visit their site for more info.
Hope to see you there.
Hasta pronto!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Preparation, perspiration, and creation

Many writers I know like to think that their work takes no preparation..."It just comes to me," they say, when their work is going well. "I am waiting for my muse" they muse, when it isn't. But good writing, like any other artform done well, is brought about by preparation, from the practical to the poetic.
Everyone has practical tips, of course, that range from "always write at the same time each day" to "get the best tools" to "have a special place for your writing that is sacred."
The more poetic suggestions include: "inspire yourself with art" and "prime the pump with daily writing" and even "surround yourself with beautiful sights and sounds." All of these may be true to one or the other of us--the trick is to find what inspires you, what motivates you, what prepares you to write at your best. Or, at least, to write!
There are also ways for writers to prepare to be published--beyond writing well and often. Many good writers will never be published authors, and for many of them that will be just fine. But for those who do seek publication, there are some steps that need to be taken.
I'll be teaching a class called "Why Some Authors Get Published--and Some Don't" at the Southern California Writer's Conference next week, and going into great detail on this subject, but here are a couple of quick "how to succeed in this business" tips.
Do your homework: If you are targeting a certain market (YA, New Age, Literary Fiction) make sure you read what is being published in that genre. If you desire representation, see what agents are successfully repping your type of work. If you want to be published by a certain press, study their line, and read some of their latest releases.
Be prepared for success: Build a platform, in whatever ways you can--create a buzz about your work with friends and family and then "grow that brand" as the business bigwigs say. Start a blog, write a newsletter, market yourself as an expert in a filed that complements your work.
Be easy to work with: Be professional, and thorough, and kind. Present yourself confidently, but don't be rude or pushy. Do your work (rewrites, for example) in a timely manner.
Hope you can make the conference--it's always inspiring and fun.
hasta pronto!