Starting Out Write
The New Year is always a great time for fresh starts. I turned
in my last book on 1/1/2008, and it’s now scary and exhilarating.
When a writer goes out of contract, it’s their responsibility
to turn in a new proposal and get a new contract. Sometimes that’s
a whole manuscript, sometimes it’s a partial (3 chaps and
a synopsis), sometimes it’s a blurb, and sometimes it’s
merely a conversation with your editor. This varies from writer
to editor to house and back to writer again. In other words, there
are no rules.
For me, writing proposals is the hardest part of the entire bookwriting
process. It’s like pulling teeth without anesthesia while
standing on one foot in sub-zero weather. There are several reasons
for this. One, I don’t know who the heck my characters are
in the first 25 pages. Is the heroine Steel Magnolias a la Sally
Field, or is she a little battier, a la Shirley McClain? Who the
heck knows after you’ve only spent four days with a person?
It takes week to come to realize the good, the bad, and the ugly
in your characters.
I always have to go back and rework after I hit the half-way point,
or even better, after I’ve finished book and know how the
character’s journey turns out. In a book, hindsight is almost
always required. You have to foreshadow and set up the events and
internals that will give both the conflict and the ending that
extra “oomph.” Some writers concoct elaborate character
charts and interviews and histories and turning points, using whiteboards,
Post-It notes, and reams of paper filled with little pithy notations.
Not me. I have a vague idea of the people in my book, kinda fuzzy,
like those foggy mornings when you can’t see your hand in
front of your face. But the more words I write from their mouth
and their little brains make them come alive to me. There’s
actually logic in that, it’s not woo-woo.
But frankly, the chapters aren’t the worst part. I write
well enough that I can wing that. However, the synopsis (said in
a Joan Rivers kvetching voice)????? Let us ‘discuss’ the
synopsis. I hate the synopsis. Hate it with a passion. I usually
know the end (unless I come up with a better ending along the way,
which has been known to happen approximately 80% of the time).
And I’m not good at writing little paragraphs that consolidate
forty pages of action, lightly colored with emotional turmoil.
Who is? And my question becomes, if you’re really that good
at writing little paragraphs that consolidate forty pages of action,
lightly colored with emotional turmoil, why the heck are you writing
a book? Seems like a short story is where you belong.
People tell me that writing proposals build character and strength.
I give them my death-stare in return. Sadly, pathetically, tragically,
(and every other ‘-ly’ adverb that we aren’t
supposed to use), proposals are a fact of life.
So, enough of my procrastination. Thank you for letting me whine.
And now, I have a couple of proposals to write.