Tag Archives: fiction

Writing Tips: Number Something or other (I’ve lost count): Editing tips and it’s importance!

9 Jul

 

Preview

Haven’t posted in a while, been so swamped, with work, life, writing and editing that I have been naughty and neglected my blog a bit. But I’m back today with a hopefully helpful post.

Today we are going to talk about editing, first I’ll go through the steps I take when editing, and then I’ll edit the first chapter of Ryder’s Story using these steps for an example. First off I’d like to say this is only how I do things, I’m not saying it’s the right way or the only way, but it’s my way, and hopefully it could give you all an idea of where to start if you  were having trouble. So let’s get into it then my editing technique.

 

Now for the purpose of this I’m doing it in steps, but in reality this is all done at once when I sit down and edit. When I write I’m one of those writers that believed in just writing, sit down, write until you can’t no more and edit later. Ryder’s Story is an excellent example of that. It was my challenge to myself to see if I could get an entire chapter out in a week, and while it did have a basic (and I mean just me and my bff reading it quickly before posting it) edit, it’s by far not perfect, in fact, there are a lot of big no-no’s, and stuff I would cut out if I had spent the months on it I usually would when editing and getting it ready.  So yeah, I know it’s rough, but that’s why every first draft needs second- to maybe  100th give or take 😛

 

First things first, cutting, when I edit I cut, a lot. Which from what I gather is what you should do, getting it down to the bare bones, is what’s writing is about. If you can say what you want to well,  with few words then you are a good writer. But no one can do that in their first draft, even amazing authors like Stephan King have multiple drafts before they are ready. So as hard as it is cutting is essential.

First things I cut are any unnecessary words.  And there is a list of words that can be cut 90 percent of the time, I found an awesome blog post going into more details about this and that’s the link below if you want to check it out.

http://justatasmanian.com/2014/01/25/day-256-9-words-to-get-rid-of-in-your-writing/

 

For now though I’ll just point them out these words are:

Was

Really

Just

Said

Can

Seem

Suddenly

That

Am

Were

Now there are expectations, of course, and the post explains this in detail but if you can, cut them.

 

The next thing I take out is any prefix related to talking, if I can. Again not all need to be removed, but the less, the better. So that’s your he said, she said, they argued, he yelled, ect. All those have to go, it requires minimal rewriting and it is the quickest and easiest way to improve your writing quite a bit with little effort.

 

Next any unnecessary actions that the character does. This is my big downfall,  I’m terrible at unnecessary actions, it’s awful. When I’m editing I found myself cutting more of these than anything else. Though at the same time they are some of the hardest thing to cut, because cut the wrong action and the reader are lost, leave the wrong one in and it’s unnecessary. I still haven’t gotten the hang of this, but I’m getting there, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. What I mean by unnecessary actions is characters, smiling excessively, nodding, and doing anything that’s receptive. It’s a hard one to explain without context but if you make it to the end hopefully I have an example in the part I’m going to edit to show you.

 

Last thing to cut and probably the hardest, is anything that doesn’t help the story along. If you have scenes that are awesome, but you have them there just because they are awesome then they are probably unnecessary. This is a judgement call you as an author have to make if you don’t think it really needs it, then it’s probably best to get rid of it, your writing will thank you.

Other things to look out for are typos, and yes, this is another thing I’m terrible at I often miss my own typos, because I know what it’s meant to say, and more often than not read what’s supposed to be there, rather than what actually is. This can be helped by reading it aloud, getting a Cp to proof it, if you have one who is willing to do this. ( I tend to find people willing to spell check you hard to find, though I do have two lovely ladies who help me out here, love you guys!) Also time will help, it’s the reason I choose to use Ryder’s Story as an example. It’s been almost a year since I’ve even looked at the first chapter, so I’ll be more likely to see mistakes I missed.

This helps, with editing, always put it away, work on something else for a while, and I mean a reasonable while, a few months at the least so you can get it completely out of your mind, then edit. You will find it easier this way. Now this is only step one, once you’ve done this, put it away and do it again, and again, until it’s done. Some parts will take more work than others, and sometimes you notice huge thing you missed in the first draft. It takes time, it’s hard works, but no one ever said writing was going to be easy. If you put in the time and effort, it will show and your writing will be better for it.

 

Now, to the editing! Fixes and changes will be bolded and crossed out to give you a working example of what I’m talking about. This example will not be polished to perfection; it’s just an example of the first stages of editing I would go through. There is still probably somethings I have missed but, if I was editing this in order to query about, I would be leaving it a month or two and starting all over again, until I was happy.  Sorry if it’s a little messy, I was going to do the edits in red but silly me couldn’t work out how to change the colour of text lol 😛

 

They say all great stories have humble beginnings and although I’m not entirely sure my story could be considered great, it was not at all humble. No mine is a story of life, loss, war and new beginnings; this is the story of my life and I’ll start from the beginning.

I was born in 1509 the same year that as Henry VII died leaving the English throne to the notorious Henry VIII; of course at the time I had no knowledge of that and doubt I would have cared even if I did. I was born Anthony Edward Cross, but have since changed my given name to become what you know me as now, Ryder Kingston. I was orphaned at a young age; my father killed in a war, my mother totoo poor to care for me, turned to prostitution then died not long after. I don’t remember much of my childhood seeing it was so long ago and such a small part of my life, but it was spent bouncing from orphanage to orphanage, until I was fourteen and old enough to work, to marry and that is where my life really started.

It was 1523 and I was only a boy. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. It was a Monday and it had been raining all morning. By the time afternoon had hit the sun was shining and brighter day lay ahead. Voices in the hall outside of the boy’s chambers caught my attention, and the fact I was the topic of interest held my attention. because I knew it was me they were speaking of.

“He’s a good boy father, quite reserved, but strong. He’d make a good field boy, or worker, and he’s rather dashing.” said the owner of the orphanage I herd the owner of the orphanage speak as I pressed my ear to the door. Seeing it was the middle of the day most of the others children were doing chores or playing outside. but they were almost all younger than me and still had hope for finding a family, my only hope was being put to work, it was all I could have asked for at my age.

“Very well, and it is the boy with blond hair and blue eye, Anthony I believe?” The responding voice was one I didn’t know  said the male voice, he sounded young, and I wondered what a man of the cloth such as him could possible possibly want with me.

“That’s the one. Can’t tell you much of his history father, but he’s a little old for any hope of adoption. I was thinking I might have to keep him on to fix up he place, he has always been a favourite of mine.” she said.

“I do apologise for requesting a favourite of yours, but he’s is the boy I have been looking for, my brothers son. It seems it only fair that he returns to family,.

“Please father, do not take me wrong. I will be happy if the boy goes to a good home, what better a home than with a priest.”

“The boy he is in here?” The priest’s voice was followed by footsteps heading my way. said the priest; his voice was followed by footsteps.

“Yes father thought that door, .

I hurried away from it not wanting to look like I had been eavesdropping.Grabbing one of the few books the orphanage owned, I quickly settled on my bed. I grabbed the book one of the few in the orphanage. Although I didn’t know how to read I liked to look, and pretend I knew the story, even if it meant I had to create my own.

“Anthony, what are you reading son,.said the voice It was the voice I’d had heard in the hall. I looked up feeling quite foolish and wished I knew enough to lie.

“I’m not.” I let the book fall into my lap.,” I said the book falling into my lap. Books were a luxury and it was amazing that we even owned one, granted it was hand written and poorly bound, but printed book were a while off yet.

“That’s strange I do believe you are holding a book.” Gently the father reached,” he said gently reaching for it and looked at the cover.

“I can’t read.”,” I replied softly ashamed of the fact.

My father had been a well-educated man, he had read to me when I was still very young, I remembered it but being as I was, I had no hope that I could, or ever would be anything more than an uneducated peasant.

“Well, I shall teach you son,. Then you will be able to read this book you hold so dear.” He said with a bright smile that  The smile he wore showed how young the man actually was. He seemed kind and his smile was warm as he held out his hand for me to take. “Now come my son, I will show you your new life.”

The weather outside was warm, was warm outside that day which made for a good change in a soggy English winter. The priest had a horse drawn carriage which excited me; I had never ridden in one that I could remember. It was not something a boy of my stature could hope for.

The ride was long, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I had never seen that much of the country side countryside before. It was all so green and beautiful like a place from my dreams and at the time I felt like the luckiest boy alive.

The small village where the priest’s monastery was, was far from any town and the small two bedroom house that would be my home for some years was better that than I could have ever expected. The town itself was owned by the church and in nowadays it would have been seen as more of a training facility than anything but to me, and others like me, it was home.

When we arrived at the house, I was giving new clothes, gentlemen’s clothes, the type of clothes that I could have only dreamed of having back at the orphanage. My life at the small town was greatly the same. I was raised and was taught to be a gentleman, being told that I would soon be working with the rich and the royal, so I need my manners. I was raised to a class that was well above my own, but I had no delusions of nobility or wealth, I was just a lucky boy.  They taught me to read, in both English and Latin, and also I was giving an education, something that I never would have got if it wasn’t weren’t for father Kingston. The priests at the monastery were far ahead of their time, they believe believed in good hygiene and had advances in medicine that wouldn’t be seen for hundreds of years, some of which modern medicine could use now, but were lost over time. I soon found out that I would need these advances and I was very grateful for them.

I liked my new home and I liked my new carer. Father Kingston was a young man of twenty three twenty-three; he was had never married and grew up in the very town we were in. He told me of a time when he was just like me, all alone with no home. He knew what it was like for us, but he said my life held I a different path than his,. He was a scholar and I was not. Despite that, all of the time I sent with him our differences, I believed I was going to be just like him one day. It was the path I chosen as soon as I met him., but it never came about. I loved him like a father and he treated me as his son.

On my fifteenth birthday, I met the boy that who was to become my brother. Like me, he had no family and was taken in by one of the priest priests at the compound.  We met at the river while I was skipping stones waiting for my afternoon lessons. I was rather excited for that one particular.  Father Kingston said I would be soon put to work and was to begin my training in what he called the doing the ‘Lord’s work’. Our first conversation was simple and from that the first moment we were inseparable right until the end.
“Mind the intrusion, you are Anthony right?” Asked a voice from behind me. I stopped and turned on my heels to look at him the new comer.

“Yeah.,” I replied

“Hello, my name is Dashiell, Dash has also been used. I was told to find you, we will be training together.” His quiet tone caused me to believe he was shy. ,” he said shyly and I smiled. That moment was the first and last time I would ever think of Dashiell as shy.

“Pleasure to meet you Dash .” I tossed him the smooth stone in my hand.,” I replied tossing him the smooth stone that was in my hand, “Care to join me?”

“Very kind.”,”

It wasn’t long after I met Dashiell; I learnt exactly what our jobs involved. Throughout the course of my training, I decided that I would risk my life for that boy, and since then I had many times as he had for me.

Training was hard, but the acting was harder,. I was the furthest thing from a gentlemen which only became clearer as I grew older. When the priest pulled me from that orphanage, I was the dirty, son of a whore. I hadn’t the slightest clue what manners were, and didn’t even own a set of shoes. Not that it mattered here because none of the boys had. We were all lost souls, boys that wouldn’t be missed if something unfortunate was to happen and I quickly learned why.

We were trained to eliminate things that defied the church, abominations, the supernatural, make it like they never existed. Our job was dangerous and many of the boys I grew up with did not survive there their teens. I learnt to take loss well early and not to fear death. I knew that the chances were I would die young but I knew what I was doing was right and as it turned out, I was rather good at it.

Dashiell and I quickly moved to the head of our class,. I believed we were unstoppable. I don’t intend to brag, but before we started our first mission, we believe that there wasn’t a thing that could stop us, and I knew as long as my brother had my back I was safe.  I was eighteen years old when I was send on my first major mission. True there were other before but that one, but that was the one the defined my life. It was the domino that started the tumble that lead to my death. If only I knew back then what I know now things might have ended differently.

We were tasked with finding and eliminating a vampire that had taken residence among a set of English nobles. We were to infiltrate the family’s fold by whatever means necessary. I liked to use a playfully playful nature and charm, to befriend the charge, but Dashiell, on the other hand, was to work through the business, he liked the politics. He would go for the father he was smarter and he was older, only a year but back then, in that time a year made a great difference., and he was also smarter. He understood the working of a the business, where I did not.

Dashiell’s dark eyes and dark hair gave him a more professional look; it also made girls from miles around swoon and act rather improper in his presence. He was a lady killer, out of us he had the looks, the charm and the charisma, which was why I was surprised I was even chosen for the job. Although I was not without my own charms.

Before I knew it we were bathed, suited, and had been given two of the most magnificent stallions I had ever seen. I held the reigns, uncomfortable in the formal attire. I knew it was an invitation for thieves to try and rob us on our journey; it was almost as if we were carrying a sign stating ‘free gold enquire with swords’. Although, I did not fear being robbed by mere bandits, though I did think it would be a rather unfortunate waist waste of life and of time. Dashiell and I could more than stop our fair share of bandits; we had fort things that were far more worse than humans in our time. I was more surer of that fact than I was of that than anything else in our entire assignment, not that I enjoyed the thought of it happening.

“Smile Anthony, its ok, are you not excited?” asked Dashiell smiled brightly as came to a stop next to me.

“Excited is hardly the word I would use.”,” I replied I muttered my reply as I looked looking around for father Kingston. As if he had heard my prayers he emerged from the house nearest to me. “Father.” The discomfort and doubt was thick in my voice. I did my best to hide it; I didn’t want to let him down.

He placed a hand on my shoulder. and smiled at me before he said. “What is it my son you sound troubled,”

“Father i…” I stopped unable to tell him I could not go through with it. It was an assignment that was too big to fail; its reach was too great. It had links right back to the royal English court and the last thing I wanted was to piss off the king. It was Dashiell who broke my silence.

“He is just anxious father, he doubts his abilities.”

“Is this true?”  My father met asked meeting my gaze from our similar heights.

“Well…” was all I managed to get out before the cardinal and leader of our group spoke up.

Alright All right, alright all right gather around warriors. I know you have all been anxious to hear who was chosen to lead England from the clutches of evil back into the loving light of god almighty. The decision was not made lightly and our finally our minds have been made. Dashiell, Anthony will you please step forward?”

I passed the reigns to my father and walked to the front of the cognitation congregation to take a knee in front of the cardinal. Dashiell took my side and we bowed our heads as the cardinal gave us our rights.

“You are warriors sent forth from heaven to complete the Lord’s almighty will. You will have no earthly bound but to the duty you have been bestowed. If you are to walk in the valley of death, fear not my sons because you can walk head held high into eternal martyrdom, everlasting youth and life. You serve no man princely or otherwise only the will of the divine, do you understand our mission my sons?”

“Yes my father,” Dashiell and I replied in unison.,” we replied in unison With a gentle hand he the cardinal lifted my head and made the sign of the cross on my forehead.

“Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine

et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Ut requiem in pacem.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.”

“In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.” I repeated before he moved on to Dashiell to repeat the process.

“Now rise my sons, you have much to do.”

I looked to Dashiell as we got to our feet his hand clung to the chain around his neck and he said his own silent prayer. As we were walking to our horses, I was stopped by another clergy member.

“Anthony.He The man said in a solemn voice that instantly made me fear the worst. “You have been appointed rider, and will take the lead unto your first rest and then again onto the next, do you understand the responsibility of being rider son.”,” he said and

Much to my surprise Dashiell actually laughed as I nodded and I agreed. “I do father.”

The priest left us with only our horses and father Kingston for farewell.

“Do you understand the responsibilities, we have bestowed on you Ryder?” Said Dashiell in a mocking voice I gave him a disapproving look, but he continued anyway. “No father I have only spent the last four years of my life preparing to die as a young martyr, I could not possibly fathom this which you task me with,”

 

“Must you?” I asked was unable to hide my own smile even though I knew it was wrong.

“Yes brother, come now Ryder we better get a move on.” he replied A wide smile beaming beamed on his handsome face as he mounted his horse. I looked to father Kingston, who nodded and gave me a small smile of his own.

 

“Be safe my son.”

I too hoisted myself onto my own horse. I hated the thought of leaving especially since the chance of returning was were slim, but I knew I must. I looked down the road, coming to terms with my own impending death as best as any man could and smiled down at the priest besides my horse.

“Be well father.And with I said before a gentle stoa of my boots and a quick ‘yah’, I was gone.

 

Character Interview: Cendall from Candice Burnett’s novel, Death has a Daughter

27 Apr

Well, today guys I have a little treat to share with you all. For a while I’ve been wanting to do reviews and interviews and now I have my first one. Today I’m here with Cendall, the heroine from Candice Burnett’s Death Has A Daughter series. Cendall has very gracefully taken the time out of her busy scheduled to be here and chat with us today!

 

ME: So Cendall thanks for giving us a few minutes today, How are you?

 

CENDALL: I’ve been better.  It’s been an insane year.  One that I never thought in my wildest dreams would happen.  Everything that was my norm is now, well. It’s different.

 

ME: Well I’m glad you could find time to talk to me. So Cendall you’re the only female Grim reaper to ever be born, that’s pretty cool, what’s that like?

 

CENDALL: Being the only female grim reaper has its highs and lows. Because I’m female, the expectations are higher.  If I fail well, I prove the stereotypes are real. That women are too emotional and weak to handle the responsibilities of a Grim Reaper.  When I succeed though, I’ll finally get the respect I deserve.  I’ll show them all that what sits between your legs has nothing to do with your abilities.  I’ll show them that women can be just as tough.  Show them that even though men might be physically stronger, my mind more that makes up for their biceps.  That day when I prove my critics wrong will be the highlight of my career, and I know that day is coming soon.

 

ME: being the only female is tough? What about reaping in general. Was it what you were expecting?

 

CENDALL To watch the light of a soul slip from it’s host into my scythe, was something I’d been craving for sixteen years.  After that first reaping I was finally able to silence the aching, but found that it still wasn’t enough.  Finding out that it wasn’t enough was what surprised me the most.   All my life I thought, that all I ever wanted was to be the best Grim Reaper hell had ever seen, but then I was given a complication named Lacie. After that, well we will just say my aspirations in life have been shifted a bit.

 

ME: Lacie, she comes with a few complications huh? Like say a tall, hunky guardian, care to comment on him?

 

CENDALL: Those aren’t the first choice words I would use for him, but I’d be lying to myself if I said they weren’t on the list.  That’s part of the problem with Trevor.  He’s arrogant, cocky, and knows he’s irresistible to the opposite sex.   Ever since I made the mistake of calling him out on a dare last year, well things have been more awkward than usual between us.  I try not to let what happened between us, distract me from our mission though.  I wouldn’t even say it was anything to begin with, but if you asked Lacie, I’m sure she’d have a different answer, but Trevor is nothing but a Co-worker to me.

 

ME: So what about Lacie? You said she was a complication, do you regret meeting her? Have you wondered how thing might have turned out had you not?

 

CENDALL: I don’t regret meeting her, but it is something I think about every day.  I think about what I would have been doing had she never been on my list in the first place.  When the thought comes though I try not to ponder on it too long because that’s just not my reality any more. I was such a different person when I first met her. I was organized, controlled, and thought I had my life planned out, to where now I’m on the complete opposite of that spectrum.  One day I’ll find a happy balance.  Meeting her has made me change, for the better I think.  And if it weren’t for her I might have never discovered my other gifts, that I’m still trying to figure out.

 

ME: anything else you want to share with us?

 

CENDALL:  Since we both know the Guardians can’t handle Lacie alone, I should probably get back to my guard duty

 

ME: well thank you for chatting with me today Cendall it’s bee fun, good luck with all your newest adventures 🙂

 

CENDALL: Hopefully the next time we talk I’ll have life a little more figured out.

 

If you want more of Cendall, check her out in her first adventure Death has a Daughter by Candice Burnett. For my review and links to amazon and Candice’s sites click the link below.

http://justatasmanian.com/2014/04/27/book-review-death-has-a-daughter-by-candice-burnett/

 

want me to post a review, interview or character interview? shoot me an email at justatasmanian(at)hotmail(.)com(.)au (No SPAM!) 😛

 

a bit about DHAD

Cendall, history’s first female Grim Reaper, has until her eighteenth birthday to prove she’s worthy of the role.  The only obstacle in her way are those pesky

coverGuardian Angels who protect human souls, but Cendall is certain she can handle any Guardian who gets in her way. However, nothing could have prepared Cendall for Lacie—a soul that is protected by multiple Guardians, wanted by Demons, and, most startling of all, can see Cendall.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Death has a Daughter, by Candice Burnett

27 Apr

Death has a Daughter by Candice Burnett

Death has never been so funny!

So I was lucky enough to get a chance to read this before it went out to the printer, but it now available on amazon for all to read.  Death has a daughter is a young adult paranormal fiction. Published March 31st 2014.

 

Synopsis: Cendall, history’s first female Grim Reaper, has until her eighteenth birthday to prove she’s worthy of the role.  The only obstacle in her way are those pesky

cover Guardian Angels who protect human souls, but Cendall is certain she can handle any Guardian who gets in her way. However, nothing could have prepared Cendall for Lacie—a soul that is protected by multiple Guardians, wanted by Demons, and, most startling of all, can see Cendall.

 

Cendall uses every trick in the book to try and slip past Lacie’s Guardians and collect her soul, but a Demon interferes at the last moment.  In the chaos, Cendall accidently saves Lacie’s soul, along with one of the injured Guardians.  Realizing Cendall fears termination for her mistake, the Guardian blackmails her with an offer she can’t refuse: in exchange for his silence, Cendall must keep Lacie’s soul safe from the Demon, until he recovers from his injuries.

 

Cendall agrees—with the intention of checking Lacie’s soul off her list, the instant the Guardian is healed.  But as the three of them are forced to work together, Cendall begins to question why Lacie is wanted by the Demons and if her name actually belonged on Cendall’s list in the first place…

 

Overall impressions: 

I loved death had a daughter. Burnett creates a realistic world where even the grim reaper had bad days.  The characters were fun and interesting. Cendall’s spirit and determination to be the best Grim reaper the word has ever seen makes it a fun read.

Cendall is a grim reaper in training and the story opens with her trying to pass her reaper classes at the top of her class. Then it’s onto the real world where a name on her list of souls to collect gives her a little trouble, in the form of guardian angel Trevor.

Not only does Trevor stop her from collecting his charge lacy, Cendell, finds herself becoming attached to the human soul she is supposed to collect. A series of demon attack force the trio into hiding, but they can’t sun forever. Cendell isn’t the only ones that wants Lacie’s soul and you better believe she’s going to fight for it.

 

My favourite part of this book was definitely the characters. They were fun, practical and very amusing. They really kept the story going and made for great reading. second favourite thing would have to be the humor, it was just plain funny.

 

My least favourite part was that Cendall could never seem to admit that, she was attracted to Trevor, even though it was blinding obvious to us all, she was clueless.

 

But overall this was a very run read, that was would definitely recommend you check out. readers of YA fiction, people who love strong female characters and people looking for a bit of a laugh will love this book

 

My rating: Four book monsters! Great read!

 

two-eyed-monster-reading-book  9T4AqLbTE monster-reading-a-book12834ce59247a770f63fe3df3859bb7e

 

 

Important links

Where to buy:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Death-Daughter-DHAD-Candice-Burnett-ebook/dp/B00J8ZI4R4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1396800582

 

Candice’s Social Media

http://www.deathhasadaughter.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Death-has-a-Daughter/606947926007765

Twitter: @cburnett1987

About Candice

Candice Marie Burnett  graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Marketing.   She’s loved writing better picfrom a very young age, but has only recently pursued publishing her debut novel Death Has a Daughter.  She grew up in Woodhaven Michigan on a small farm with her mother, father, brother and sister.  She now lives in Atlanta Georgia, with two fluffy pugs and her husband, who has an overworked, undefeated, guardian at his side.

 

 

 

Read my inter view with Death has a Daughter’s MC in the link below!

http://justatasmanian.com/2014/04/27/character-interview-cendall-from-candice-burnetts-novel-death-has-a-daughter/

or

want me to post a review, interview or character interview? shoot me an email at justatasmanian(at)hotmail(.)com(.)au (No SPAM!) 😛

 

Happy reading!

 

shan

Another Query post

16 Apr

As promised I am brining you notes from the recent class I attended on query writing and what I learned was so different from what I had learned previously. I’m starting to think that query writing is a subjective thing and it will differ depending on who you talk to a lot of this stuff will be totally different than what was in my other post, but all this info came from a literacy agent, so it must be good.

 

First off let’s talk about word count.

I’d always read that the shorter the better and 250 words tends to be the maximum but according to the class, 250 should be the minim. You want your query to be no less than 250 but definitely no more than 700. Around 400-ish words is perfect according to Bree.

Agents don’t like opening and email, or letter, to see a huge 1000 word query. They must open hundreds of letters a day and seeing that, would be a real turn off. Also on the other hand, having one that is too short will only harm you because it’s near impossible to do you MS justice in so little space. Not impossible and I have seen it done, but extremely hard to do. If you can do it, and do it well, props, seriously I mean it major props, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being to minimalist.

Set yourself a word count starting at 250- and maxing out and 450 then go from there. If you keep it between that range, it’s perfect.

 

I probably should have mentioned this point first but appearance is very important.

How your query looks is a huge part to whether an agent reads it or not. They receive something in tiny, weird font and they aren’t even going to bother to try to read it. Remember a query is a business letter, it is the first impression that an agent is going to get of you, as a person and as a writer, so keep it professional.

Fonts should always be kept to something standard, and easy to read. Arial, Times, Calibri all make excellent choices. Usually the agent will mention in there submission criteria what they like so if they do, do exactly as they ask. They want Times at 12pt, do it. Who cares if you like it, they do and that’s the point. If nothing is stated always choose a sensible, easy to read font.

That being said font size is just as important, you don’t want it to small. The agent needs to be able to read it without straining their eyes. Making the font smaller, might allow you to fit it all on to one page, but other than that it will never help you cause. I suggest 10pt – 12pt you may be able to get away with 11pt in some fonts or bigger in other but as a rule of thumb stick to 12. You don’t won’t a comically huge font either, because though easy to read, it looks very unprofessional.

Spacing can also be important, though this might be out of your control if you send it in the body of an email. If possible space the query so it is easy to read (do you see a pattern here?)  Use paragraphs, 1.5 – double spacing and keep it neat. I personally like 1.5 though many agents prefer double. If it’s not specified in the submission criteria use personal preference though anything lower than 1.5 is much too low.

This point is only for post-in submissions, NEVER and I mean EVER hand write a submission. I don’t care if you are a master of penmanship, don’t do it. Always type it and print it. Hell even break out the old type writer and do it the old fashioned way but never hand write it. This falls under the readability point, as awesome as you are with a pen, it will always be easier to read typed, end of story.

Finally keep it professional, no pictures, no colours, no silly fonts. I mean it, professional people! Okay?

 

 

Next big point is Personalization.

General rule of thumb queries should be 3% personalized to the agent, 97% exactly the same as the last one you sent out. This is where the research I talked about in my last post comes in handy.

Always address it to the agent. Dear Mrs Doe, Dear Jane ect. Never address it generically. No To whom it may concerns, Dear Agency’s name, or the classic Dear Sir/Ma’am. No, just no okay? It is always better to address the person you are talking to so they know it’s not just a burst email/letter. At times an agency will say in there submissions that if unsure address it to the agency and an all agents will receive it. I would suggest against doing that. Yes, we all want an agent, but not every agent out there will be right for your book, be picky, even if it’s just a little bit because you will be trusting your work to this person, so you want to know they are right for it. Whenever possible query an agent, never an agency.

The reason I say query an agent is because you are going to want to start with one or two sentences as to why you want them as your agent. What made you query them? Writing, I queried you because I want an agent is not a good reason. They realise that since you are querying them, but why do you want to them as your agent. A good point here is not to brown nose, or try and be a kiss arse. It gives you as a writer, a negative image and people hate arse kissers.

Say things like:

I noticed you represented such and such’s (description of book), because of this I think you’ll also like my (description of MS), TITLE

Or

I read an article you wrote on something and it inspired me in some way to query you about TITLE.

This is where the research really pays off, so do it and you will  have no trouble with this little detail. Of course, don’t overdo this part, yes you have spent time e-stalking them but don’t come off that way. One or two sentences are all you need. Don’t spend paragraphs telling them why they are the perfect agents for you, because A) they don’t want to hear that and B) you have a word count to stick to remember.

Do not fake the personalization because they will know. Saying I saw you represented such and such, there for I think you will like my MS and having no cluse who such and such even is or what they write about, will only make you look bad. Because if it turns out you’re wrong and your MS is nothing like there’s, the agent will know and it will only serve to annoy them. Agents talk remember and you do not want to look like a liar.

 

Now down to Writing the query itself.

Here are some pointers on actually writing it.

First don’t sell yourself short; a query is a way for you as a writer to show an agent who you are. You write witty satire, show it! (Within reason, it is a professional letter after all) use your way with words to make a query that is unique to you and your story.

Spell check and edit! (My biggest nightmare!) Super important, make sure there is no mistakes, none, not even a little one. Read it, leave it a while and come back and read it again. Get someone else to check it, a couple of people even, make sure that baby is mistake free.

Focus on the project that you are pitching. One query per project.

The whole point of a query is to leave the agent wanting to more. Be specific but don’t give away the ending! Give all the necessary detail, but don’t give every character, every romance, and every disaster. Don’t try and fit everything that happens into the query. Pick out the main conflict, the main character and roll with it. The MC may have lots of drama going on but don’t tell them about it all. Give enough to hook them, that’s all you need.

Always include the first five pages, after your closing sign off, unless other amount is specified. The right agents will not reject you if you attach five pages and they said not to. If they liked it they will read on anyway. It will give them an idea of your style and voice which can be a good thing.

When sending out your query don’t email blast, do a hand full at a time and wait. That way if you found out that something needs to be changed you haven’t burned every bridge.

 

Some things Queries must have:

Personalized salutation

Personalized tidbit about agent

Title

Genre

Word count

Protagonist name

Description of protagonist

Setting

Inciting incident

Villain

Protagonist’s quest/purpose

Protagonist’s goal

Bio

Author’s credits (optional)

Your name

 

Query Recipe: (as written by Bree, I didn’t think I could sum it up any better than this)

* Keep in mind… Queries and synopses are two different things. Unless an agent specifically asks for a synopsis (which is not the norm) do not send one. Agents want an overview of Who, What, When, Why, and just a PART of the How.

Introduction:

Include word count, genre, and title. Show the agent you’ve researched them, that this isn’t an email blast.

Your book:

Things you’ll need to include in your description: Who is the main character and why are they special? Why are we reading about them? Why do we want to read about them? You don’t need to explicitly tell us this information, but you’ll want to introduce them in a way that gets us excited.

What is the plot? What happens in the novel and how is your main character involved? How does this affect what your main character wants and needs? How does it affect their emotions?

Make clear the central relationship in the novel.

Your bio:

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being a debut author…especially in fiction. If you don’t have writing credits, do not worry. We expect that the majority of querying writers are going to be debut. Just tell us a bit about yourself. Where you live, what you do for a living, and whether or not this is your first novel.

If you do have writing credits, list a few of your highest profile publications. Avoid listing out everything you have ever published ever! In fact don’t just “avoid it”…don’t do it!

Other important facts to include in your bio section:

1.    If you’ve had previous representation

2.    If the manuscript you’re querying has an offer on the table, and how much time we have before you need an answer

3.    If the manuscript you are querying has been submitted to editors at any point

Who YOU are is secondary to what your manuscript is about. We will eventually want to get to know you before signing you, but it’s important to hook us on your concept and not on yourself (unless you are writing nonfiction). You have a very finite amount of space to make us want to read your manuscript, so don’t blow it on personal information. ~ Bree Ogden

Another important thing is to know you genre.

Know the market, know who you want to market it to and be specific. Is it syfi, fantasy, romance, paranormal, adult, action, suspense, horror, the list goes on. There are hundreds, so if you not sure google is always your best friend. After you have classified the type state the age group. These are the standard age groups.

Picture book (ages 0-4)

Easy reader (ages 4-6)

Chapter book (ages 6-8)

Middle grade (ages 9-12)

Upper middle grade (ages 12-15)

Young adult (ages 14-18)

New adult (ages 19-29)

Adult (ages 30-up)

When classifying age group, you want to look at the age of your main character. They should always be within a few years of your target audience age. But keep in mind it’s not just about “age” but about the tone and the experience that the character is going.

 

Finally the best way to learn is by reading, look up successful queries online. Once you have finished writing it there are tons of sites where other writers will critique your query and give you advice on how to improve it, if it needs it.

There we go everything I could think of about writing a query all in one post. Keep in mind this is not an easy process, it’s a lot of work and very time consuming, but if you do it properly it will be worth it to see the finished results and start to get some requests rolling in!

 

Happy writing!

Query writing part one: research and finding an agent

3 Apr

As promised here is the first part of what I have been learning. I’m taking an online class taught by the lovely Bree  Ogden, who is a literacy agent herself.

Most of the stuff in this first post will be stuff that you might already know, but if not here are some important steps on the way to querying.

 

  1. Polish!

Make sure you manuscript is complete, polished and free of errors. This might seem like a no brainer, but it’s essential. You don’t want to have an amazing story turned down by something technical.

 

  1. Research, do it.

Get a big cup of coffee get comfy and do it. This is an important step. Familiarize yourself with all aspect of the publishing process and get your info people. Do not test the waters until you know what you are getting into. Here is an awesome list of publishing terms, incase you are ever caught off guard…  http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/08/book-publishing-glossary.html

 

  1. Nail down your genre.

If you have already done this, good, but this means more than just fiction and nonfiction. Sub-genre is important it will help you determine what agents are right for your manuscript.

 

  1. Write query

I’ll go more into this in the next post, but for very basic tips you van check out my last post  http://justatasmanian.com/2013/12/11/writing-tip-number-four-query-writing/ it’s a start 😛

 

  1. Research agents.

Another super important step, know the agent you are going to be querying make sure they are a good fit for your manuscript. Make a list, try to have about a 100 or so agents. Make sure you this list can be simple just name and agency. Next research each one, look at twitter, blog, Company website, just to make absolutely sure that you are the agent are a good fit.  (below there will be a list of westies that will help you in this step) google will always be your best friend in research. This will narrow down you list.

Once you are sure that an agent is right for you, create another list, an excel sheet is probably going to be the neatest for this and keep details. How they like submissions, genre, preferred contact method and of course agency. Also include what you have sent them and what they have requested of you. Colour code it if that helps. Useful things to keep track of are: query sent, Partial requested, partial sent, full requested, full sent, Pass on partial, pass on full, haven’t received response, etc.

Don’t query too many agents at a single time, this is a burning all your bridges thing. Do it in lots of about 5-8, that way if you find out that you have something wrong in this first round you can fix it before sending it off to the next.

 

Useful websites

PublishersLunch.com

PublishersMarketplace.com

PublishersWeekly.com

Agency Websites

Twitter (use Twitter directories!)

WritersMarket.com

WritersDigest.com

GuidetoLiteraryAgents.com/blog

AgentQuery.com

AbsoluteWrite.com

Literaryrambles.com

All for today, more as I learn it people 😀

 

Happy writing!

 

shan