Writing the unexpected
So another Friday just passed, and yes, there was a rejection. Actually, this week there were 3 rejections in my inbox. But, there was also a (very exciting) full manuscript request yesterday! So the stats as they stand today:
15 queries sent / 2 full requests / 9 rejections / 4 no response (which are probably rejections – my experience is showing interest shows up quickly)
I’m going to talk more about queries and getting ready for submission in my next post, because I’ve learned some great tips along the way. But I wanted to mention this great workbook I came across called ‘Writing the Breakout Novel’, by literary powerhouse Donald Maas.
The idea is to take your manuscript, or a work in progress, and put it through the paces of questioning EVERYTHING YOU’VE WRITTEN. Characters, plot, themes, premise…everything is fair game. It’s not meant to be a quick process. In fact, Mr. Maas says he expects the process to add not only significant time to your project (like, perhaps, years), but also length. But the end result will be worth it.
One of the interesting things this book talks about is the idea of writing the expected. Which is not what you want to do. I’ve had the experience of writing a particular scene and feeling all “Yes! This is flowing. This is good. This is exactly the way it should be written…” when the reality is that it may be flowing because it’s not a fresh idea. It’s familiar, which is why it feels easy to write. And if it’s familiar to me, it will also feel familiar (read: boring) to the reader. So this workbook forces you to question all these ‘familiar’ points – to dig deeper and write not the first, second, or even fifth idea that comes to mind, but rather go long and search for the fifteenth idea and use that.
I’m excited to see where this workbook takes not only my current novel (if I choose to put it through the process, which I just may), but also my second one that I’m working on right now.
Now to find a strategy to temper my impatience…