One of my favorite blogs did an ongoing bit last year called “Write Your Novel In A Year.” It ended with Week 52: Keep the Momentum Going. The goal for the last week is to work on ideas and strategies for your next book. And then the blogger says, take a break, immerse yourself in someone else’s stories, and do imagination exercises. The last ‘pin it, quote it, belief it’ of the year was “I oscillate between thinking I’m crazy and thinking I’m not crazy enough” (Joyce Carol Oates). Yep, been there.
Week 49 looks at publishing options. Since I’m not there yet, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to that. Week 48, however, was about Elements You Need In Chapter One To Hook Your Reader. The blogger said, “The first line is your last chance to grab the reader.” I am interested in that (see my last blog post). “The world on the first page” is a great way to frame the intro. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it struck me. And the 5 Quick Hacks (a staple in every post) were great:
- Rewrite your opening line at least 10 times in 10 different ways. Experiment.
- Cut the first two paragraphs from your opening chapter – and see if it doesn’t read better.
- Describe your character in twenty words or less. Try to distill the essence of him or her into the first two pages.
- Lists as many of the senses you use in the first few pages of your novel on a separate piece of paper. Group them by smell, taste, etc. Have you used enough? Too many?
- Cut the last two paragraphs of your chapter – could it be used to open Chapter Two?
There were other good weeks, like 46 with 3 Lessons on Theme, Character, and Plot. How about week 45: How to Find a Top Literary Agent? His pick was Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group (that’s his pic above – he looks like a young Benedict Cumberbatch without the squinty eyes). When did I get so old that top literary agents are infants? He looks like he’s my daughter’s age. Age bias aside, Mark gives some good advice in the post. Although he looks young, he started early and has some impressive credentials – his bio says his “focus on publishing began at Emerson College, where he was a founding member of the Publishing Club, later its President, overseeing its first publication and establishing the Wilde Press.” Make that great advice.
Week 42 is another topic we’ve all struggled with. Are there really 12 easy ways to find a title for your novel? He gives 12. I’d be interested to know if anyone tries his method and ends up with a good title. But the pin it, quote it, believe it is a humdinger.
‘That’s a fair gloopy title. Who ever heard of a clockwork orange?’ — Anthony Burgess