Sunday, February 22, 2009


Well, novel number two is almost ready for the trunk, so it's on to number three. Will it be less likely to contain the newbie errors I've been making? I certainly hope so.

According to the Big Dawg, it's all about the word count, not the actual word count of any individual piece but my personal, overall word count.

"You see," says Big Dawg, "the more words you write, the more short stories and novels you have under your belt, the more you learn. The more you learn? Well, the fewer newbie mistakes you make."

Makes sense to me. Essentially, the more you write, the better you get at it. If I were a carpenter, the third house I built would inevitably be better than the first. The same is true for any profession. Sooo...I have high hopes for novel number three. Practice makes perfect, or so they say.

The third book? The main character is female. That's all I'm going to give up, so hang in there and hope that the new one is the second part of a two book deal negotiated by my fabulous agent. Then you can pick it up at your neighborhood bookstore.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Funny Valentine?

Okay. So it's 10:15 on Valentine's night and I'm updating my writer's blog. Tell you anything about my life?:D

That's right. My life is wrapped around the idea that one day I'll get this writing thing right. I have hopes. High hopes. But 'hope' must be tempered with a strong grip on reality. Unless a writer is visited by the 'miracle fairy' it's very unlikely that that first novel will ever see the published light of day. Some first novelists do so well as to catch an agent's attention and still that novel is never published. Reality bites.

My first novel is currently 'trunked' for a year. What does that mean? Well, for one thing, that means I've written, re-written, re-vised, and re-visioned so often that I can't stand it anymore. Even an author can tire of their own work. For another thing, 'trunked' means that even with all that re-writing and editing, it's still not up to snuff. Someday, it might be sitting on a shelf at the local Barnes & Noble, but I have to separate myself from it long enough to make it feel 'new' when I fish it out of the trunk. That way when I start its next round of re-writes, I'll be more likely to find the way to make it work.

As for the second novel, it's much better. I can almost see it growing by leaps and bounds as I prune its pages. Pretty soon, I'll see the words 'the end' pop up on my computer screen. When that happens, the second book gets to visit the first. Yes, it goes in the trunk for a month or so. When the time is right, I'll go fishing, pull it up on my line, and read it again. While reading, I'll get out my writer's wrench and tighten up some things that are loose. I'll make sure that it doesn't fall apart at one place or another, then I'll send it back to the Dawg Pack and see if they chew it up.
The great hope is that they'll carry it back, wagging their tails, and say, "Hey! This is pretty good. Time to query."

"Time to query." Time for that nail-biting, heart-wrenching, nauseating period when I send out my lovely product and wait to see if some agent might be interested. I may get a few requests for partials or maybe even some requests for the full manuscript. But if the past holds true, mostly, I'll get silence or form letters that say things like: "This is just not right for me," or "I can't seem to muster enough enthusiasm to represent your book." I may not remember the lines exactly as they're written, but you get the gist of it.

My hopes are still high, and if my patience holds out, you might just be passing a bookstore someday and see something interesting by a great, new author: W. K. Everhart.

Friday, February 6, 2009


That's right. I'm almost there. The revision process is taking longer this time, partially because of the stops and starts due to the new grandson's arrival and partially because I'm getting better at it. Yep. Better.

As my word-count rises (the number of words I've written in my efforts to become a novelist) and as my betas keep coming back with questions and those big purple marks, I'm beginning to notice errors on my own. I have some bad habits that I'm trying desperately to break.

For example: dialogue tags. For some reason (mostly attributed to those creative writing courses I took while in college), I tend to force a position on the speaker. Joe banged on the fireplace mantle. "Get out," he yelled! In reality, it should read something like this: "Get out!" Joe shouted, his fist pounding the mantle. The second presentation makes the words ring louder in the reader's mind and it gives old Joe an opportunity to emphasize the language. See? I am getting better.

Like all writers, my bad habits don't stop there. Because my work falls under the title "literary," I tend to wax eloquent when eloquence is unnecessary. You see, I love words and the images words produce in the mind. I use a lot of them, too many sometimes. The writers of the New Testament knew best. The shortest verse in the Bible is the most powerful. "Jesus wept." Two words. The Messiah weeping over the city of Jerusalem, looking down at the corruption in the streets, seeing the dim and bloody future. "Jesus wept." Instead of the long winded explanation, the writer chose to leave it to the two word, simple sentence. Those two words leave a lingering image in the mind of the reader. They're all that's necessary to get the point across.

Me? Well, I might have mentioned that it was dusk, that the sun had colored the sky a royal purple, or I might have noted the clouds grown red in the dying light of the sun. See? I'd have mucked it up. Never use eleven words when two will do. No matter how beautiful the passage, no matter how glorious the image, simplicity is best in dress and in writing. Words should never be measured by their beauty. They should be measured by their power to get the message across. They should be measured by their ability to advance the story. "Jesus wept" is powerful enough to make any believer hang their head in shame. That's what the author wanted. That was the point of the passage.

Now, I'm off to slice and dice, to remove those wonderful words I love so well. The Big Dawg calls it 'killing your darlings.' In many ways, she's right. I love words, images, metaphors. They are my darlings, and so, I must learn to kill them. True, I keep some passages in special files, leaving them only injured as I remove them from my work. Some 'darlings' simply must be remembered, saved for a day when, with a tiny tweak, they can be resurrected, reused some place where they leave the mark this author intends.