1. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY

    Breaking Through

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by northernadams, Nov 13, 2013.

    Anyone else frustrated with trying to figure out what agents and editors want, and not being able to break through? I must be an incredibly bad writer. I've been writing for almost ten years without any kind of success at all.
     
  2. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,031
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    Did you ever read Publisher's Market to find out the going on's in the publisher world?
    Or take up any books concerning with publishing and what is publishable and not?

    Those usually give very good advice on why you're succeeding or not.
    With a grain of salt, of course.
     
  3. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    Yes to both. I'm getting very frustrated. I know I'm not the only one on a site like this, but I have no idea what to do. Maybe I should quit.
     
  4. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,031
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    Well, if you quit, that means they win.
    And you're a terrible writer.

    Don't stop just because you've been rejected.
    Most first timers are and for quite a while.

    Now, odds are, after 10 years, you ARE doing something wrong.
    No doubt about it or you'd have been published.

    Did you try contacting a professional editor or someone similar to tell you what is wrong?
     
  5. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    Just the editor who proofed my ms. I've been to two conferences and got paid critiques, but when I was finally able to get one from an editor (those always filled up first, then agents, and then other authors) hoping to get--specifically--an 'editor's eye' for feedback, the first thing he told me when we sat down was that he was critiqued it like a reader. Made me mad as hell.

    Writers have critique groups and betas--we don't need yet another 'reader's eye.' I wasted $30, and I really can't afford to waste that much money.

    At groups, I'm told I write very well. My betas tell me the same thing. So I can only conclude either they're not being straight with me or I'm doing something terribly wrong. And after all this time, it doesn't look like I'm ever going to figure out what that is.
     
  6. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,031
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    Did you ask @JayG or @mammamaia ?
    If you PM them, maybe then can give some good advice on how to proceed.
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i'll be glad to look over some of your work with my professional editor's hat on and give you detailed feedback on what it needs to bring it up to agent-acceptable levels... email me for details... it's a free part of 'mentoring' and has no strings attached...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  8. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    Not to wear my inner frustrations on my sleeve, but yeah, I'm pulling my hair out. And I already have depression issues--as many writers do--and boy, this is really messing with that. I'm currently working on a suspense story, and I'll send the first chapter to you. As to a ms I had already shopped around with no success, you can read a paragraph or two of the one I self-pubbed, by using the 'Look Inside' feature on the Amazon listing of that book. Supposedly, I have the mechanics down, but apparently, what I write isn't particularly compelling. I've never had any agent request even a partial.
     
  9. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    Yep, bad writing.
     
  10. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,031
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    I'm sure she didn't say you were a bad writer.
    If anything, now you know where to focus more effort!
     
  11. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    That may be what he said, but the man has an "educated eye," and the purpose of reading, for an acquiring editor, is to place themselves into the state of a reader who is thinking about buying it. So they look to see where that reader might sit back and say, "Hmm, tell me more." They look for places that might turn the reader off.

    He didn't make suggestions as a reader, he looked at it reacted to it for you. And in reality, that's what you want him to do. Because if that reader in him loves it he'll go to bat for you in the meeting where they pass judgment on who, of the ones the editors like, will see publication.

    I looked. You do. If it helps, I had a hard time getting a sense of place in the opening the the Grue. I knew what he heard and his reaction so the POV was good. but you say he lay helpless in his bedroom while something was moving in it. But you never placed his POV in space, or made it plain why he took no action to even see. It felt as if you were making yourself experience the scene and giving what happened in it without giving the scene, itself, because you could see it so clearly.

    It might pay to get deeper into his head, and instead of telling the reader what he heard, show him hearing and reacting so we know his perceptions and decision making process instead of just what he sees and thinks.
     
  12. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    No, it's profoundly bad. Every sentence and nearly every word is wrong. Bad writing. Unfixable, imo. I'd have to rewrite every single line from scratch as though it was a brand new story, and in that event, I'd just write another chapter wherein there was something wrong with every single sentence and nearly every word.
     
  13. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    That's not the opening of my book, but rather the first chapter of a second book that was never written and apparently, doesn't need to be. Where did you see this chapter?
     
  14. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    You have it posted here. The other work you had posted is no longer available. But be you to write that story or not, what I pointed out was a structural issue not an editing point, and might be worth looking at in your current work.
     
  15. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    I forgot I had ever posted it in here. My current WIP is so bad, it's not worth finishing. A huge blow, as I had thought it contained my best writing to date. It seems I can't recognize bad writing. And I've seen bad writing in books that were traditionally published, so it seems I also cannot recognize good writing. That's pretty much game, set, match.
     
  16. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    I think you may be confusing personal taste in writing with what a publisher would call bad or good writing.

    Before you toss in the towel, and if you've not read it, pick up a copy of Dwight Swain's, Techniques of the Selling Writer. It is, by far, the best book on technique and approach I've seen, and I spent half of the book whacking myself on the head saying, "Idiot! Why didn't you see that for yourself?" It made the single greatest change in my approach and perception of, writing for the printed word. It's the kind of book where you read two pages and then edit everything you ever wrote for three days. It happened so many times, with me, that I reached a point where I realized that I was going to read two more pages and then be right back where I was, editing, again. And then repeat. And then...

    I felt so stupid that I had the urge to say, "Maybe I'll get back to the book later." Fortunately, an attack of good sense prevailed.

    In looking at what you have posted I thought you were writing well. What I saw were all fixable structural issue problems, not a visualization or word/phrasing handling issue.
     
  17. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    Hmm. What I got back on my WIP indicates 'unfixable.' It's beyond bad. I'm actually getting worse with each new effort.
     
  18. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,803
    Likes Received:
    7,320
    Location:
    Scotland
    Sounds to me like you're simply going through a bad patch. If you are depressed, even the most marvellous writing will look awkward to you just now. You can't be objective during a period of depression and everything is going to be filtered through a negative lens.

    By all means, put your work aside and do something else while you wait for your inspiration to return. It will.

    Like @JayG, I read your offering about the Grue, and I agree with him. You do write well. It's hard to judge the merits of your story from such a small clip, but you seem to have a lot going on, and you have built your suspense convincingly.

    Trust me. Distance, not discouragement, is what you need to nurture just now. Walk away from this piece. Leave it for months, until you can return to it with a fresh eye. The awkward bits will stand out when you return, as will the solutions to fix them.

    I stopped editing my own novel when I realised I was just tinkering with bits, taking them out, changing them, then putting some of them back in, etc. I'd go back each day and more or less get rid of what I'd done the day before.

    It wasn't till I put the novel aside for a 6-year period (!) then returned to it, that the edits became easy. I went through my manuscript like a dose of salts and was able to prune away over a third of it, just by getting rid of repetition and over-writing. Then, when the scurf was gone, I was able to see the structure and flow of the piece, and tweak that too. I re-wrote and even re-envisioned some scenes to strengthen the story. I was able to dump a couple of chapters which weren't bad, but stalled the story flow. I'm now pretty happy with the result.

    I learned the lesson. Walk away. Come back later. You'll look at your story as if somebody else had written it. That's what you need at this point. Objectivity. In the meantime, you could do worse than take up JayG's suggestion to read a few good books on the art of writing well. These can be inspirational as well as instructive.

    Your first goal should be to write the story you want to write, to the highest standard you can possibly achieve. Publication is in the hands of others, and much of that success is down to current fashion. Don't be overly discouraged by rejection, especially rejection that is not accompanied by a 'reason.'

    If you write-by-numbers in a certain genre, following all the 'rules,' you probably have a better chance of getting published than if you don't. Accept that if your story doesn't fall easily into a recognised category, you may have trouble selling it. This may result in many rejections, and may well have nothing to do with the quality of your writing at all. Lots of 'getting published' is down to luck these days. Getting published is great, but it should not always be your primary goal.

    Good luck. And by 'walk away' I certainly don't mean 'give up!' You are a good writer. I see lots and lots to work with in the short snippets you've submitted here.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  19. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    I appreciate all the encouragement here, but I don't think my initial points are getting through. I've been writing for ten years without even modest success--I've never sold a single piece. I'm 50. I don't have until I'm 120 years old to see my writing improve to where something will sell. Ten years, no improvement. And my recent effort proves that not only am I not getting better, I'm actually getting worse. I have a stack of writing books I've read. It doesn't show in my work. Thanks anyway, but at this point, I need to assess this realistically, and that would dictate that I need to walk away from it. If I was a lot younger, I'd probably keep at it, but not at my age. I suck at it, and need to face that fact. Thanks for all your help.
     
  20. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,528
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    Persistence is important, northernadams, as is a bit of luck.

    Part of what you're facing is that there is a vast amount of competition out there. And even if one self-publishes, there is a flood of titles out there--so much noise to overcome.

    Great writing is important. A great story is important too. I've been published through a small publishing house. I asked my publisher once why he took a chance on my first novel. He said there are a lot of good novels out there, but most blend in with all the others. In essence there's nothing 'wrong' with them. Mine stood out because the writing was good and the story was good but it also was different from other stories out there.

    I can't speak to that with respect to your stories.

    You mention a stack of books on writing. What I use when I'm having difficulty, say with dialogue or an action scene, I go to several authors (novels) that I've enjoyed and re-read a number of times. I see how they accomplished what I'm struggling with, and then apply it to my own writing style and storyline. "How to" books are okay with respect to getting started, but they only provide the basics. And they can't effectively tell someone how to write an engaging story--except maybe in only the broadest terms.

    Only you can decide if it's worth your time pressing forward, and working to improve. Writing takes a lot of time and effort, that could be spent elsewhere.
     
  21. L.T.
    Offline

    L.T. Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2013
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Georgia
    I just wanted to input that I read the sample on Amazon and agree that you are a good writer.

    Are you certain that you are submitting your story to agents or publishers interested in the specific genre of your book? Have you ever had anyone review your query letter and synopsis? I am new to this, but thought that possibly the problem may lie there.
     
  22. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I'm really tempted to say enough with the whining, what are you looking for? Virtual roses? If writing is no longer fun then just stop. If it's a drudge and all you want is money you're not going to make a penny if you're staring at your ms thinking it's crap.

    I think you need to step away for a while, go water skiing or bungee jumping. Go get some new stories and come back in a month with a fresh eye and reinvigorated pen and remember why you fell in love with writing in the first place. I read your piece too. Its far from crap. Go take a break!
     
  23. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    Ten years is evidence of persistence. People with no persistence don't stick with something even half that long. And it's also long enough for luck to rear its ugly head. It hasn't.
     
  24. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    I only subbed to agents saying they accepted both MG and fantasy.

    Query letter, synopsis (only about 3 agents required that), and ms itself have been reviewed and critiqued to utter distraction.
     
  25. northernadams
    Offline

    northernadams Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    WNY
    After ten years, it's no longer whining. Whining would be if I was wondering why I hadn't sold my very first book, having been writing a year or two. This is ten years without having sold a single piece. If someone sticks with one thing that long and doesn't see even one lone, modest triumph in there somewhere, and they aren't questioning things at that point, there's something seriously wrong with them.

    Who said all I wanted was money? I never said such a thing. However, I'm not just writing because I love my little frequent jaunts into my own madeup world of fairies, pixies, and unicorns, and it's just an artistic endeavor and a hobby. Anyone who claims they don't want to see anything come of their writing by way of at least one sold piece, whether it's an article, a novel, or copy for a :60 commercial, is completely full of bs.

    Ten years, all rejections, not a single sold piece--this doesn't speak to my greed or arrogance. It speaks to competence and ability. In fact, when you're talking about writing ability, you can scarcely find a better yardstick. Ten years, no sales.
     

Share This Page