Tag Archives: manuscript

All Quiet

Things are so quiet lately. I blame summer.

I was going to do a running the numbers post – was planning on doing one a week – but those are boring without significant changes. My last rejection was a week ago, and one rejection isn’t enough to warrant a whole post. As a result everything feels like it’s in a lurch. At least with rejections something is happening, my query, my synopsis, my manuscript is working – it’s moving though the industry. Silence feels like nothing is happening.

I plod along.

I think I just wrote a post about nothing. Larry David would be proud.

Facing Rejection

One of my partials came back today: rejected.

That makes three of my partials that have been rejected. I see a lot of people lament this sort of response, and I get it, it came be tough. Writing a manuscript is hard, finishing it is harder, sending it out and watching the rejections roll in is the hardest. But… during these times one needs to remember that this is the name of the game. Partials get rejected, queries get rejected, heck even full manuscript requests get rejected. You face it and you keep moving, because in the end that’s the only option you have.

(Unless of course you’re a quitter, and you’re not a quitter.)

I draw maps.

Map of Lovat
Detail of the City of Lovat from my manuscript “The Stars Were Right.”

I write speculative fiction, which is the fancy way to say I write books that fit somewhere between sci-fi and fantasy, both of my manuscripts Coal Belly and Stars exists in realities separate from ours. Coal Belly takes place during an industrial revolution on a river covered planet named Vale, Stars exists in a distant furutre where the surface of the earth has changed significantly and strange creatures interact with humanity on a day to day basis. They’re both very detailed settings and in both cases I found that drawing my own maps really helped me with my world building.

I write with Scrivener (an amazing tool, I’ll probably write a post on it at some point in the future) and it has some templates for locations that I find very helpful. However sometimes a document with descriptions isn’t enough. My love of maps and my reliance on them in my writing is probably born out of my career as a designer. I can write details, but visualizing them spatially is often difficult for me.

Cardova
“City of Cardova,” a central location in my manuscript “Coal Belly”

More and more I tend to find myself breaking out the ol’ moleskine and starting to sketch. Maps help me see a city, or a nation in better context, I can write to that local when I have it drawn out before me. See the distance between point A and B. Other times I use a map to work out details in a scene or a chapter. Case in point: I wrote a scene towards the end of Coal Belly and after reading it I realized it was confusing, so I drew a map. I choreographed how the whole event played out, I mapped character movement, and made notes on the actions of the scene. It worked out well.

So I draw maps, and will probably continue to do so, how about you? Ever drawn a map to help you write? What tools do you use? How detailed do you get?

Running the Numbers #2

I’ll try to do these running the numbers posts as long as I have new data to share. For even more up to date info: follow me on twitter. I tweet about a lot of things, often my writing. Not a huge swing in the count this week. I had a new partial request (yay!) and one rejection (boo!) anyway… the numbers as they stand today:

  • Total Agents Queried: 81
  • Unanswered Queries: 51
  • Query Rejections: 30
  • Partials Requested: 4
  • Outstanding Partials: 3
  • Partials Rejected: 1
  • Fulls Requested: 0
  • Fulls Rejected: 0

Staying creative.

I went to a family reunion this weekend, not mine, my father-in-law’s family reunion… his extended family reunion. For me it consisted of a lot of standing around by myself, explaining what I do for a living to random strangers, and trying  to describe where I live to other Seattleites. However –  in the midst of this awkwardness – I had an interesting conversation with a nun-turned-landscape-photographer and she asked me a very pointed question:

How do you stay creative?

It it put me on the spot. You see I work as a user experience designer during the day and that’s a creative gig, at night I come home and write speculative fiction which also requires a lot of creativity. So how do I stay creative? Three answers popped into my head:

1. Study others creative process, and use what works for you.

This is why this and other writing blogs exist, it’s why writing groups are formed, it’s why online forums are created, it’s why we go to workshops and conventions, it’s why Stephen King published “On Writing.” As we post, read, comment, and write we’re forming a community, a community that builds off on another, as we build off each other we strengthen one another. Those connects and the strength that comes from them is just as important for staying creative as anything else.

2. Never stop learning. Read everything.

Read everything you get your hands on. The good and the bad and the boring: books, blogs, articles, tweets, and newspapers and above all don’t read only in a specific types of genre. You can glean great ideas from everything. A lot of writers justify reading only a certain genre because they write in that specific genre. I was one of them. Don’t do that. Branch out. There’s good ideas everywhere use them to fuel you creative fire.

3. Push through creative blocks.

This is the hardest one of the three.

There’s times where I sit down open my laptop and nothing happens. I stare at my screen and… nothing comes… the blinking cursor flashes it’s mocking laugh and I grow more and more frustrated.

It’s easy to close my laptop and walk away, turn on a game, grab a beer, watch an episode of Breaking Bad, basically do about anything other than write. I try very hard not to do this, instead I force myself to write. I write anything, could be a conversation between two random characters, it could be the description of an ancient city, it could be a shopping list, it could be a blog post. I just write! Forcing myself though my block shakes me out of my funk. Before I know it I have put aside my throwaway scribbles and I am back into whatever project I sat down to work on in the first place.

That’s how I stay creative. It’s not anything ground breaking, but it works for me. How about you? What do you do? How do you stay creative? I’d love to hear from others on any and all topics (not just writing) share your ideas in the comments!

Small Update

Not a lot to update this week, sorry for the silence. Quick run down:

  • I had one of my Coal Belly partials rejected. (Bound to happen. Not a big deal.)
  • I’ve had family in town and things have been busier at my day job. It’s a perfect storm and I haven’t had as much time in the evenings as I’d like. As a result progress on my Stars manuscript  has considerably slowed down.

I expect to shift next next week – in the meantime I’ll keep trudging along and leave you with a picture of the steamboat America loaded to the guards with cotton.

Riverboat America loaded with Cotton