Four allies in attacking the middle(of your novel)

A beautiful morning here in the Kawartha Lakes: sunny, warm, blue skies without a threat of rain, at least not yet. It is April, however, so I expect a downpour before tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m working on the middle.

No, I’m not talking about girth, but those vast pages from the end of Act 1 to the beginning of Act 111 in a novel. They should be vast, in number at least, but mine are not. I write short, too short and too fast. I need to get to the end, to see how it all comes out for my protagonist. Yes, I should have plotted it all out and I will next time, but this book is at 62,000 words, a little long for an outline and a little short for a novel and I’ve come to the end, resolved the crisis, packed everyone up, and sent them all home to bed.

The magic middle moment(see James Scott Bell happens at 36000 words, so I’m aiming for 72,000. Not long but a decent length for a paperback or an ebook.

I spent this morning plotting, searching websites for help, considering sub-plots, considering the sub-plots I all ready have and finally returning to Syd Field’s book Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting, not because I’m writing for the movies but because his approach is excellent for writers of genre fiction. I also searched out Sol Stein’s On Writing, which I’ve read before at least twice for his section on triage for editing.

Barbara Kyle recommended Albert Zuckerman’s Writing the Blockbuster Novel and I’m in the midst of reading that as well. He presents a detailed analysis of ken Follett’s The Man from Saint Petersburg through all its drafts. Invaluable.

Too much reading and not enough writing? Perhaps, but I’m learning all the time. Revision has so many sections, so much detail to consider, that learning how others have done the job helps.

The Garden:

The miniature iris are blooming and the paeonia tenuifolia have sprung up. I pruned some roses yesterday and searched in vain for one of my clematis. Perhaps it’s just late.

Mark at Galetta Nurseries in the Ottawa Valley said this week that he hit frost a 4” when he tried to dig out some roses. The old saying is ‘plant when the ground is warm enough to sit on’. Good advice.

peony tenuifoliaPaeonia Tenuifolia, my garden.

Marketing and Revising: Ways and Means and Help

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Setenil de Las Bodegas, Spain, setting for The Child on the Terrace

I spent most of this week learning about marketing. Earlier, I received a series of e-mails from Nick Stephenson, writer and teacher of marketing about “Your First 10K readers“. He supplied 3 videos on the subject. Well worth the time spent, if only for the insight into how Amazon and other on-line retailers find books, but also for the methods of applying that insight to one’s own books. I haven’t applied his method as yet, mostly because, as I have a publishing contract, choosing such things as category and key words isn’t up to me. However, I shall put together a plan and suggest it to the publisher, Cambridge Books.

Laurence O’Bryan at Books Go Social offers a great service, connecting authors with each other and customers.

I’m revising my next book, working title Saving Fillide. One bit of advice that keeps popping up is to “kill your darlings”. and I did just that, moving the opening of the book to the third chapter. It has made for a more suspenseful opening, but in the process, I lost some back story and one subplot that needs to go back in but in a different place and manner.

Barbara Kyle, at a Turning Leaves, a Writescape retreat, suggested a book by her agent, Al Zuckerman, called Writing the Blockbuster Novel and it is immeasurably helpful in revision. I’m attending a workshop Barbara is giving on Friday, Feb. 20th at the University of Guelph Writers’ Workshop on Crafting the Bestseller; Your first 50 Pages and know I will learn more. She is an excellent teacher.

The Child on the Terrace is now available on major e-book sites. Connect through the link to my book launch page.Winters_Child_RT_jpgSM copy2

Editors and Writers

Autocrit, an online editing service which I use because it is useful in many areas of revision, offered a deal before Christmas: for $99US, editorial comment on the first 20 pages of a manuscript by The Editorial Department. Renni Brown, who wrote Self Editing for Fiction Writers, is one of the founders of the company.

The editor assigned to me, Lindsay Guzzaro, is a well-respected editor and author. She identified what worked and what didn’t in the first 20 pages.

Now I have to decide whether I can use her comments to improve not just the first 20 pages, but the remainder of the manuscript. She did recommend I read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, which I did some years ago and will do again, and Syd Field, The Fundamentals of Screenwriting, not because I am writing a script, but for his teaching about plot and dialogue.

I’m part way through Field’s book, and I must say he is an excellent teacher and I am finding the book relevant to my work.

When I finish reading, I’ll begin the task for 2015, which is a rewrite of the manuscript, bearing in mind advice from Lindsay Guzzaro,  teachers Ruth E. Walker and Gwynn Scheltema of Writescape, as well as teaching from Barbara Kyle at a recent retreat. Too much advice? Perhaps, but I see a way forward now.

Also reading Between Gods, by Alison Pick, an intimate biography of a woman’s search for her Jewish identity.

Finished reading The Best Laid Plans, by Terry Fallis, a hilarious political comedy. A recommended read for political junkies.