Let’s begin with a bonus today: By
It’s the preposition of the wRiting Effort DoUbled by Concentrated Educational Details, but let’s not forget the little things. And that’s it – don’t forget the little things:
- The importance of proper formatting for manuscript submissions:
- Times New Roman
- size 12, double-spaced
- 1 inch margins
- new paragraphs indented (tabs) not an additional space between paragraphs
- Running headers are expected: your last name, title, page # (i.e. Schaub/Gateways/14)
- Resource for formatting: http://www.writingworld.com/basics/manuscript.shtml
- How to write a query letter
- Writing a great query letter is as important of rockin’ that little black dress on the red carpet. It’s the first and sometimes the only impression you make. It must be flawless, as intriguing as your story, and it must be formatted correctly. Each agent, editor or publisher will ask for different submission packages, but query letters are pretty standard. The best resource I’ve found on-line is http://queryshark.blogspot.com/ It’s funny and direct.
- Using the Writer’s Market to find agents and editors. That’s a no brainer.
- Read books they have represented. It’s time-consuming, but necessary – know to whom you are sending your work. Visit their website. Follow their submission guidelines to the letter. Track your submissions.
Concentrated. (Pack a punch in fewer words – how)
Like orange juice and soup from the can: just add water. In writing, that means we grant the reader some intelligence and don’t spell out every single detail. Find the words that fill in the gaps without running margin-to-margin for three pages. Excellent writers give readers the concentrated pulp. Readers add their own vision. End result: literary joy.
Three out of four suggestions of what follows are some excellent writing points I found in Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers.
The book oozes ideas, reminders, reviews, new concepts. And just when you think you’ve read it all, there’s another zingy hint that punches up the quality of your writing.
The first two are terms I had never been introduced to before …and I called myself a writer!
Put simply, this is a list without a conjunction. I’ve already used this in this post. Do you see it?
I learned something new right on page 27 of Roger’s book even though I’ve studied writing, practiced writing, edited writing. (There I did it again.) The technique of listing a series without a conjunction creates multiplicity, despite that only three things are listed. Computers are programmed to dislike the asyndeton as the word ‘edited’ in the previous sentence is underlined in green. Be brave. Ignore the green line.
The house of a homeschooling family is busy; not only in the flourish of activity from numerous children, but the books that clutter the tables, the art projects on the walls, the kitchen that serves lunch with a side of algebra.
The image given shows the reader – without so many words – that there is more going on in that homeschooling household than just those three things. The list goes on in the readers mind, allowing he/she to bring a piece of their own imagination to the sentence without me, the writer, stuffing it into their heads. This first sample gives the reader ownership of the image this sentence evokes.
However, in school, I was taught to put a conjunction at the end. Read that again with changes that make the inner editor happy.
The house of a homeschooling family is busy; not only in the flourish of activity from numerous children, but the books that clutter the tables, the art projects on the walls, and the kitchen that serves lunch with a side of algebra.
Written in this way, there are only three things happening in the house. My home has been a homeschooling home for years, but I’m certain that any parent will agree that any house with kids has more than three things going on at once.
If you guessed that a polysyndeton is a series with a conjunction between each and every word, you are a genius! The effect of the polysyndeton is similar to the asyndeton in that an image is strengthened and given a feeling of endlessness.
Her day included laundry and diapers and groceries. It didn’t matter if she was tired or sick or had no matching socks. She was a mother and a daughter and a sister. Nothing else mattered.
The use of commas between each phrase is optional – I like it without sometimes because of the restless mood it creates. This mother is so busy a sentence about her doesn’t even have time to use commas. But if you want to slow down the pace of the polysyndeton, use the comma. For example:
We drank wine on the deck, and on the beach, and in the hot tub. Lunch was taken in front of the T.V., or by the campfire, or in bed. Delicious slices of sleepy silence filled moments between meals, between walks, between sight-seeing. It was their first vacation since the last child went to college. If only they knew it would be the last.
An example Cindy Rogers uses in her book is from Isaiah 24:1-2
Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty, and makes it waste, and turns it upside down, and scatters abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with the master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
Just like it sounds, amplification brings attention to a particular feature, event, or idea to which the writer wishes to direct your attention. Being a ‘concentrated’ writing technique – using fewer words and no exclamation points – to make a statement, a professional writer knows this trick.
He responded as a two-year-old, with a two-year-old tantrum. A tantrum worthy of Best-Actor performance. A tantrum which broke the sound ordinance.
4. REPETATIVE REDUNDENCY
I recently read a friend’s draft of the first chapter of her first novel. While her concept is top notch and the characters are easy to like, the writing lacked the sparkle needed to make it jump out for agents and publishers. For example, within the first paragraph, she wrote something like this:
He launched himself down the dark alley, hoping the darkness would hide him from his pursuers, hoping the cloaking blackness would hide his fears.
Notice the problem? The words dark and hide are used more than once. If you are savvy, you also noticed that hoping is used twice, but that is the amplification technique, and therefore acceptable.
Every sentence in your novel needs to pack a punch. Using the ‘punch’ concept, what is more memorable? A one-punch knockout or a series of medium slaps on the cheek that really just irritate? If you box, you go for the gusto and land that solid right-hook in the first ten seconds of round one and go home. The same is true for writers. Knock the reader out with amazing upper-cut to the imagination.
The sentence re-written might be:
He bolted down the alley, hoping the darkness would conceal him, hoping the raging beat of his heart wouldn’t give him away.
I changed launched to bolted. This character isn’t jumping off something – he’s not launching. He’s running for his life. I also followed the show-don’t -tell rule (your bonus tip for the day). Instead of using the word fears, telling the reader how he’s feeling, I described his pounding heart. It’s implied that he’s afraid. If he wasn’t he wouldn’t be running away.
Next Time: Educational (no quiz, I promise!)
- Writing Conference Without the Conference – Day 2: Effort (jessicaschaubbooks.com)
- Pitching your Manuscript to an Agent (robincoyle.wordpress.com)