Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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How about that.

For the first time since my dad passed away, I was able to do some writing. Only about 1000 words, but it’s a start.

I’m trying not to let my writing brain get too scattered. I’ve got two works in progress, one YA & one NA/Adult. Before he died, I promised Dad I’d let him know what agents these days are looking for as soon as I found out. I’m holding myself to that promise and will get back to querying once I’m satisfied with my NA/A word count.

How are all of you?


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Criticism vs. Constructive Criticism

Concrit. Everyone wants it, everyone asks for it. Providing constructive criticism shouldn’t be that hard. I was taught if I can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all. While that’s generally a good motto, it doesn’t mean we can’t be truthful.

As with most things, being truthful comes with a caveat. If someone asks for unvarnished truth, fire away. If they don’t ask, it’s generally far kinder to provide constructive criticism. What is concrit? It’s being honest about the flaws while also applauding the things done well.

I read a lot of manuscripts. I used to edit professionally. It’s never difficult to applaud a great turn of phrase but still correct grammatical errors. Neither is it hard to give honest feedback highlighting both what didn’t work and what did work. I’ve never met most of the people who trust me to give feedback on their work, but that doesn’t give me carte blanche to be cruel simply because I might not have a face to go with the name.

The trend right now seems to be blunt regardless of the cost. I realize that the Internet is a big place filled with a lot of people, and when we don’t know those people it’s easy to forget that every writer has worked hard on their story and believes it’s something to be proud of. It can also be tough to remember that there are actual people behind the names on pages, and those people have feelings, wishes, dreams, good days, bad days. Why is it acceptable to focus solely on tearing them down without offering a hand to help them stand again? This happens in more areas besides editing, although that’s where I’ve noticed it most of late.

The silver lining is still there, though: when I see an editor behaving like an entitled ass online, I know not to hire or recommend them. Writers go to editors for help, not for wholesale mud-flinging. I’ve got my list going of people whose behavior has been elitist and reprehensible. To those people, I provide this piece of constructive critcism: you’ve saved me the trouble of ever having to consider working with you.


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OK, I think I’m ready.

Commence querying…now.

I can either send out a few on a Friday afternoon, or obsess over it all weekend. I’d rather not spend my weekend obsessing, Of course, if I send out queries now, I’ll be jumping every time I get an email notification.

To make a long story short, there is no best time to send a query letter. We all knew that, right? Right.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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Writing for the Right Audience

Like a lot of writers, I remember thinking “I should write a young adult novel. They’re easier to sell.” It didn’t hurt that I had one started, a good portion of it sitting squarely in my pocket. That good portion had been sitting on the shelf for years. For NaNoWriMo a few years ago I dusted it off and wrote 50,000 new words for the story, and I liked it well enough to go ahead and start writing the sequel.

I’ve run into a few roadblocks along the way. First of all, the opening chapters were okay when I wrote them eight years ago. Unfortunately, they don’t really match the cadence and style of the later chapters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I like to think my writing’s improved over the past eight years. It’s problematical when I try to retrofit the original words with the newer ones, though.

Second, I’ve written better books since then. Books for adults. In fact, all my other stories have been written for adults.

Third, my enthusiasm for the YA novel is dropping meteorically. I’m much more excited about my latest work in progress (I should be) and exploring the adult emotions for the main characters.

What does this tell me? Right now, trying to brand myself as an author of works for young adults is the wrong thing to do. I have mixed feelings about this: I met so many of my favorite writer friends in the YA community. It’s a lovely and wonderful place to hang out. On Twitter, YA is a friendly and welcoming place, but if my heart’s not in those characters, then I suspect it’s not really where I belong.

I’m still a member of SCBWI. I’m not going to throw away my YA novel, because parts of it are pretty good. But for now, it’s on the shelf. Adult characters, you’ve got my focus.

Has this happened to any of you? Knowing myself, my writing areas of interest, my passions–it’s a good thing. I regret nothing.

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