Roughly a year ago, I posted 18 chapters and about 50,000 words and thought I had a really good story about two people in a plane crash. Not so. Over the past two months I revised those same 18 chapters and, with the help of some great people, I now have 25 chapters, 75,000 words, and a really good story. Some of the nice words I was given include “spectacular” and “wonderful.” The chapters have since been removed just to protect the story from being “borrowed.” It’s happened before.
To those who started the story but did not stick with it, I am sorry and wish I knew why it wasn’t good enough to hold your interest.
To say that I got “help” is a great understatement. Help is “you typed her but I think you meant he.” The help I got was more like “in this chapter, the character’s vocabulary is rather casual and contemporary. But back in other chapters, his speech was more formal. You need to be consistent.” I like to think I’m smart, but I never would have noticed that.
When I stopped regular blog posts back in March and focused on preparing a fourth draft of a novel, I could not have imagined the in-depth, razor-sliced critique and feedback that I was lucky enough to find. It might have only been about five people, but it was a fortunate thing that they turned out to be five brilliantly caring people. There were discussions, disagreements, but no disparagement. Well, maybe a couple of sharp e-mails, but that’s about it. I’m not sleeping with one eye open, let’s put it that way.
So, what’s next? I prepare a query (see below), which is a letter that takes about 75,000 words and boils them down to about two paragraphs. Then another paragraph about why I think the book will have mass appeal. Then a final paragraph about me, what I’ve done, what I plan to do. Funny how I can write 75,000 above-average words but can’t write a 300-word letter about the 75,000. Thanks to Mike for going to town on that part. Just waiting for one more set of eyes to get back to me on the query, but I’m including it below if you’re interested in what it’s like.
Then, I scour websites for agents who work with this kind of story. Some agents just want the letter. Some want the letter and the first chapter, few chapters, something like that. From what I hear, you better follow their directions down the last word because some will disregard your query for the smallest mistake. I also hear that they just want to read a good story. I’m clueless on this part of the process, so I would love to hear anyone’s experiences or advice.
Meanwhile, I will keep you aware of what happens as I hear back from the agents I contact. I expect many rejections because that’s the reality. However, a rejection is better than nothing because it at least shows that you’re trying. Also, less than a week from now, I hope to start posting chapters from the next story. Thanks again to these amazing people – in random order – for their comments, questions, suggestions, and generosity:
I looked all of you up through the comments. If I missed anyone, I greatly apologize.
Dear Person I Must Impress;
When a flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles crashes and all aboard are killed, two of the dead, Chris Babbage and Ann Camillo, are granted the heavenly light that invites them to cross over to the afterlife. However, they are confronted with a gnawing pull of the proverbial unfinished business and choose to remain in the disconnected realm between the living and the dead. Together, Chris and Ann find no shortage of opportunities to affect the living, including a lonely child who communicates with the dead, an elderly man on his last living day, a single mother contemplating suicide, and a victim of sexual abuse. Chris and Ann also must be aware of the evil beings pursuing them, “lost souls” that would love nothing more than to drag a few do-gooders to Hell.
Connecting Flight is a 75,000-word novel about two strangers thrown together under extraordinary circumstances and learning to survive in an unseen and disconnected world somewhere between the living and the dead. Chris and Ann have a charming and witty rapport that ranges from contentious to congenial, including times when they might even try to kill each other if they weren’t already dead. Readers will immediately compare the biting and witty dialogue to When Harry Met Sally. If you loved Harry and Sally, you will love the head-butting and love-hate relationship in Connecting Flight.
With three full revisions and five beta-readers, Connecting Flight is ready for publication. I also have four other titles, four outlines ready for first drafts, and ten short stories – so there will be no shortage of work or writer’s block if you choose to work with me.
After teaching English for 25 years, I am now writing full time as well as supervising a local writing group. My publication credits include a few dozen film reviews (CineKatz.com), four short stories (Piker Press), and a handful of social commentary (CNN iReport). If you are interested in seeing either sample chapters or the entire manuscript for Connecting Flight, I will gladly make sure you have it immediately. I look forward to your reply.
Guy Who Wrote It
35 thoughts on “Writing 2.1 – Getting Help”
All the best, Rich!
thanks miss. i’ll keep you posted.
Query letters are hard. Keep your energy and spirits up. Courage.
they are tough. i forgot to add it to the post, but it’s there now after updating.
Here is a great site about posting your original work online. Glad to hear you’ve polished your piece into something you love! http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/08/author-websites.html
That name sounds familiar. Thank you very much
I’ve not finished reading the last few chapters (been away plus my Gran is ill and I’m worried) is it still up for me to finish it and add my twopennothworth on the last few chapters?
Good luck with the agents & publishers!
Let me have your email and I will send you the rest of the chapters that you did not see. Any idea the last chapter that you read?
Chapter 19 was the last chapter I read. I have all the email notifications for the posts for Chapters 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, chapter 22 the revised ed, Ch 23 revised ed, Ch 24 revised ed and Ch 25 the new end.
email is lou (.) mccabe (@) gmail (.) com
Hi Rich. Congratulations on the completion of the rewrite. I stopped reading after a couple of chapters, because the genre didn’t interest me. I realize that half dead people can be an analogy of what sometimes happens in real life, but even so, what interests me in literature is living people. If they’re dead, I quickly lose interest. All the same, I wish you the best of luck in your attempt to publish the book, and hope that once it’s published, it’ll turn into a best seller.
Thank you very much. I knew that this story would not catch your interest. The story I will start next week is about living people. I greatly appreciate your kind words and encouragement. Best wishes to you and yours also.
Good luck, Rich. I wish you luck on your endeavor.
thanks very much. and good luck to you for everything you do too.
Best of luck! And remember, there’s always self-publishing.
i tried that once with a different title, but i don’t have the “savvy” that you have. i might one day ask for your help though. thanks very much for the best of luck, and right back atcha.
I’m always willing to help.
if i’m going to ask someone for help, it should be someone who has proven they know what the hell they’re doing. that’d be you. thanks.
bravo to you too for your help.
It was a pleasure reading your draft and thanks very much for the shout out. I think your query is brilliant and creates a real buzz of excitement for the story. I wish you, Chris and Ann loads of luck and will keep an eye out for updates
All the best
a well-deserved shout out. thanks very much.
Thanks for the mention. Glad I could do my bit.
You did more than just a bit, and a thanks is less than you deserve.
It will do. 🙂 Oh, that – and get it published!!!
working on query now, then hopefully starting to pitch to agents next week. thanks for the push. it definitely helps.
I think you are right to go this route first rather than small publishing or self publishing. This is just my opinion (btw). We haven’t had the chance to talk yet, but I think we still should no matter your decision.
This is a good synopsis. Very well done.
thanks. i’m looking forward to learning from you. and thanks very much for your help and interest.
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Would you mind visiting my blog? Please tell me what you think. I’m getting a grade for this darn thing! Oh, I was also looking for one of those awards like “Worst Writer in the World”. This would really drive traffic to my site. Thanks tons.
I’m enjoying this series of posts and I wish you luck with your queries.
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