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The Write Way (because there is no ‘right’ way)…

May 16, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

by Maureen Child

Writing a proposal is probably the most important thing you’re going to do in your career. Your proposal is the ‘howdy do’ of publishing. It’s your foot in the door. It’s your ‘Hey, I’m over here, read me’, way of getting an editor’s attention.

I’ve known several writers over the years who had one proposal. They sent this proposal out over and over again any time they’d hear an editor might be looking for something. They’d get feedback on this one proposal, make changes in it and then send it back out again.

Eventually, this wear and tear on a proposal shows.

And it wears on the writer, too. How can you be excited to work on a project you’ve been laboring over for five years? Nope. Once a proposal has made the rounds of everyone you can think of, put it away. I’m not saying you should never take it out for a ride around NYC again. But let it rest then go back to it with fresh eyes later.

When I was trying to sell to Silhouette Desire, I’d already written nearly forty western historicals. Didn’t mean much at Silhouette. Sure, they liked the fact that I was published, but Westerns didn’t mean I could write contemporary Desires! I was determined, though. The editor I was submitting to at the time took three weeks to turn down my first proposal.

But I was ready for her. When I got that first rejection, I had the next proposal in an envelope ready to go out. She was impressed that I’d kept working on other ideas. I asked her how many proposals I could give her at once. She said she didn’t want any more than four proposals on her desk at one time.

Within three weeks, she had three more proposals from me sitting on her desk. By doing that, I told her some very important information about me. She now knew I had lots of ideas. She knew I was determined. And she knew I didn’t give up easily.

So do your proposals. Your first three chapters and a synopsis. Make them sing. Make them shine. Send them out. And while you’re waiting…write something else.

Maureen Child is the author of more than ninety romance novels and novellas. And right now she’s working on…you guessed it. A proposal.

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The Write Way (because there is no ‘right’ way)….

April 18, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

by Maureen Child

I really hate writing a synopsis. Most writers do. And those that do love writing the darn things??… let’s just say we will never be close personal friends! We wouldn’t be able to bond over the misery of trying to cram a 2-400 page book into a handful of pages.

A synopsis is all important when you’re going for that elusive contract. When you need to show an agent or an editor that yes, your story does actually contain a beginning, a middle, and an end. You need to make that synopsis sing–to entice your readers with the brilliance of your plot line and keep it all under ten pages, if you don’t mind!

This is not easy. Especially if you haven’t figured out exactly how you want your book to go yet. Still, the synopsis must be written…so you jump in with both feet and hope for the best. Here are a couple of tips. I’m not saying this is the only way to write a synopsis, only that it’s worked for me for almost one hundred books………….

1. Don’t clutter the synopsis with a million names. It will only be confusing. Get the hero, the heroine and if you have to, their children. Name the villain, of course, but leave out quirky Aunt Edna or the garage mechanic Edwardo who’s sleeping with the Mayor’s wife, Delilah Nogood.

2. If you’re going to include backstory, to provide motivation, then label it as backstory. Keep it to no more than two pages. Then have a scene break, and type, The Story:

3. Hit the high points. Pretend you’re telling your best friend what your book is about. This is a sure fire way to get the basic story in without a lot of detail that will no doubt be brilliant in the book, but in the synopsis stage is just clutter.

4. Don’t have snippets of dialogue. It slows things down. Besides, the editor/agent will be reading your pages and the dialogue will make much more sense over there!

5. Tie up loose ends. Never leave the mystery unsolved or the murderer un-revealed. (is that a word?)

6. Show your characters’ growth arcs. That’s simple enough if you do one paragraph from the hero’s POV and then switch to the heroine’s. In a synopsis, don’t worry so much about head hopping. With those continual shifts, showing how your characters are responding to what’s happening, the editor/agent will see that you actually have a plan for those people!

That’s about it, I think. Of course, as soon as I hit ‘publish’, I’ll think of something else! If I do, I’ll come back and add it in.

The main thing to remember is that you want your synopsis to catch the imagination of those who read it. You want it to make them need to read your book. But no pressure!

Maureen Child is the author of more than ninety romance novels and novellas. A five time Rita nominee, she’s seen one of her books made into a CBS-TV movie and would love to have that experience again! Her June release from NAL, More Than Fiends, is a paranormal/urban fantasy/funny/first person romp filled with way too many characters that never cluttered the synopsis.

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The Write Way–(because there is no “right” way)…..

March 19, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

By Maureen Child

I was asked to write a monthly blog on Craft for OCC. Very nice to be asked, by the way. But the problem came when I actually started thinking about what to say!

Craft is just so subjective. Are there rules to writing? Absolutely. Should you try to bend them, break them and or spindle and mutilate? Why not? And who am I to tell you not to do it?

So what I’m going to do is, talk about how I write. That’s not necessarily the way you’ll write. Or the way you should write. But it’s what I know. And, I’d love it if you had questions. Or suggestions on what you might like to read about.

On my first blog though, I’m just going to say that to be a writer, you MUST write. Every day. Even it’s only for a few minutes a day. We’ve all got busy lives. Husbands, kids, parents, jobs…and all of it combines to make writing time hard to come by.

But you’re worth the effort. Carve out a little bit of time all for yourself. Early in the morning, late at night. On your lunch hour. Make the writing as important as everything else in your world. Connect with your own imagination. Let the words flow even if they don’t seem to make sense at first glance. You can fix anything. But first you have to write it.

So let’s hear the questions and suggestions. I KNOW you’ve all got opinions!

Maureen Child is the author of more than ninety romance novels and novellas. She’s written historicals, paranormals, contemporaries and series romance. And her favorite book is the one she’s working on at the moment. Publisher’s Weekly says that Maureen Child…is one of the stars in the ascendant…

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