Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Killing a Tree

I'm truly understanding the value of killing a tree. Also known as a line edit on a printed copy of my manuscript. Holy marking up my paper to fix bad sentences.

I knew I tended to underwrite early drafts. I hadn't realized, at this point, that I was still missing a chapter. Or two.

Or that each page would look like a three-year-old took a black marker to it.

The thing is...I've been writing long enough that I know this. I've done line edits before. Yet every time it smacks me alongside the head and I say, 'Oh yeah...ummm...this works really well. Thank goodness I didn't send it yet.'

Which leads to two things:

1.) I won't have this manuscript out before my husband gets home for his mid-tour leave. It'll be close, but no cigar. And I will happily set it aside to give him my full attention.

2.) I'd be really interested in a study examining absorption and retention of student readers when they read from a computer screen vs. the printed page. My bet is the physical object holds more weight, figuratively speaking, than the digital one.

I even Googled to see if I could find anything. All in the name of distracting myself from writing the missing chapters, of course.

But now I'm off...it's 5:32 am. I've been up since 4:30. And George is getting very impatient about that missing chapter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Making it Yours

There is nothing quite like the high you feel after finishing a draft. The draft. The one that agents and editors have requested to see. Thirty thousand words that shoot you flying high in a cloud because people other than your family can read it. And then...

The query.

250 words.

250 words that will suck you into a hole faster than mud.

250 words that will force you to use the other side of your brain, which has slowly shriveled away as you etched out thirty thousand.

I don't have a prescriptive formula. I don't have worksheets. There are plenty of other people on the net who have great resources, like Elana Johnson.

But after twelve hours of staring at the computer and multiple drafts of drivelous puke, the query that worked had something different than the others. It stood out above them.

Because I made it my own.

Much to the surprise of both sides of my brain, I wrote my query the same way I wrote my book. Draft after draft. After draft. After draft. Draft. Draftdraftdraft.

No formula. No worksheets. Just me, showing them what they need to know.

So now I can go fly high again. Until I have to send them out this week. But that's another story...

How is your query process going? Are you ready to? Or thankfully done with it?