Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Your Story Dictates The Style You Write It

I recently had an author ask me about writing in 1st or 3rd person. The concern this writer had is that her story was in 1st person and she was worried that would be a deal breaker. The answer, like any other answer is publishing is, it all depends. In this case, the determining factor is the story itself.

When we write a story, we decide on the genre first and then decide on the plot of the story. From that the approach we take with the story develops. That story tells us as authors whether we want to write it from a single person's point of view, alternating points of view or in third person. The story dictates whether we use flashbacks, prologues, epilogues and so forth. The story tells us whether we want to use letters, emails or journals as chapters.

It is not the reverse.

Now, in answer to this author's question, when she asked if it was a deal breaker, the answer would be one of two responses:
  1. Yes, if you are using a format that is not suitable to that story.
  2. No, if you are using a formant that IS suitable for that story.
I should also note that there are a lot of myths floating around out there in the publishing world that certain genres are always written one way. For example, we see a lot of New Adult novels written in that format. Does it mean an author cannot write a New Adult in third person? Absolutely not. If the story is better told in that format, then the author should write it that way.

I want to add another note here, and this deals with the research you do when sending projects to editors and agents. Some editors and agents favor one voice over the other. If you are sending it to someone who has said in the past that first person is not their favorite format, then you have an uphill battle. Does it mean that the person will not like the story. No. It simply means the author has to be more convincing. 

Hope that helps!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Don't Expect Editors And Agents To Be Miracle Workers

One of the things I often hear self-published authors say is that they took that route simply because their editors or their agents didn't get them the deals they wanted, or that they didn't sell their book, or even that the sales were simply not there. There seems to be this belief by so many authors out there that, once you get an agent or an editor, the world suddenly becomes a better place. This is not true.

While having that person on your team may provide a little more leverage, in the end, your success comes from some random variables that we simply cannot control. Your book, needs to be well written, with a plot that will appeal to readers at a time in the market when that book and style work well. This is all a matter of timing. Editors and agents are making predictions that, when your book hits the market, which could be 6 or 8 months out (and maybe more) that the book will do well in that climate. This is one of those times when we really wish we could see the future.

It is also important to remember that when your agent, or your editor (or both) work with you on your story, it is the opinion of that small group of people. What we see in the story may be something that sells, but it may also be an opinion that might not ring true with the audience when it hits the shelf.

I do critiques for a lot of authors on their query letters and their writing. What I always tell these authors is that my comments are just the opinion of one person. Does it mean my ideas are wrong if the author doesn't find success after I work through their manuscript. No, not necessarily. It can come down to the simple fact of timing, or sending it to the wrong person, or heck, even the phase of the moon. OK, maybe universal and nature are not coming to play here, but you get the idea.

I should also note that these variables are also going to affect those of you who are going to do this on your own. There will be no promises of great sales, great reviews or that success.

So, if this is the case, some of you may simply be asking, "What is the point of having an editor or an agent." The answer is simple. This is another person on your team to help you see some of the problems with your writing. This is another member of your team who can share information on the industry and find the best course of action. That agent is going to be talking to editors to get additional information. That agent is going to be on your side when issues of contracts come up. In this way, you can continue to focus on the creative side of your writing and leave the business side to the agent.

I think the thing to remember here is that this business is a huge gamble. But if the gamble works out for you, then the future always looks good.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

July and August Is About Helping Writers and Horses

During July and August, Greyhaus Literary Agency will be focusing exclusively on helping out a great Charity.

The Equus Foundation, also known as Horse Charities of America, is the only national charity in the United States solely dedicated to horse welfare and fostering the horse-human bond. Our efforts are focused on closing the gap for America's horses currently at risk, and those potentially at risk when their competitive careers are over by funding programs focused on the rescue, rehabilitation and re-training, and re-homing of America's horses in need, and on increasing job opportunities for horses, including those serving the special needs and veterans communities.

Greyhaus will be offering a chance to receive a critique for a donation to Equus. Writers can select from a query letter, synopsis for a partial manuscript critique. All proceeds will go to this great charity!

Please note that writers participating in this fund raiser will not be considered during this time for potential representation at Greyhaus. This is just an opportunity to help out horses and this great program.

Check it out and let's help out this great program!!!! Follow the link below for information on the fund raiser and how to become a part of this program. Also check out the information from Equus on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. #RideForHorses

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Balance Your Narration And Dialogue

Finding balance in your life is a good thing. Finding balance in your writing is even better. And yet, for so many authors, finding the right balance between narration and dialogue can be tough. Both are truly essential to stories and have a place in the story, and yet, if an author uses one too much, it can have a huge effect on the story.

Narration is one of those pieces that tend to be used too much in far too many stories. Authors feel the need to add the back story and add the world building. Yes, we need to know this information, but when an author overloads the reader with too much, the story simply slows down. It becomes far too much for a reader to remember.

Dialogue, on the other hand, certainly gets the reader more directly involved with the story, and yet, if we are missing the narration, we lose the context of the story. We have nothing to attach it to.

Determining how much we need of both is pretty basic. As you get ready to add that element, stop and ask if it is truly necessary at that point in the time. This is especially true with narration. Back story and world building is always on a "need to know basis." I am reading a story right now where the author, wanted the reader to see a correlation to what was happening now and what happened to a historical figure in the past. In this case, just a reference to that event would have been fine. Instead, with this author, she went for pages giving us the full run-down of the actual event. Too much.

When it comes to dialogue, you can take the same approach. Ask yourself if the dialogue is really adding something to the story, or if you are using it to fill space. For a lot of authors, I see authors use dialogues just to pass the time to get the characters from one place to another. In this case, a single sentence to say that they had talked for hours would have been fine.

As always, I just recommend to think when you write. Stop and ask yourself how this would sound to someone reading it for the first time.