Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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Lilybiz

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I can do that. Especially the middle initial thing. I might be too vain to totally change my name, though (unless of course the first book is a complete flop). But I get you on the sell-through concept. Thanks.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Optimum sell thorugh? Probably 60-70%. Long before you hit 80% the publisher should be going back to press.

Remember: printing the books is one of the cheapest parts of the entire operation.
 

Lilybiz

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I just picked up a copy of Fowler's book. It's next on my list after I finish Alison Weir's "Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley," which I picked up from the treasure chest of a remainder section at Elliott Bay Books on a recent trip to Seattle. (Elliott Bay is always my first stop in Seattle. Kind of like going to Powell's in Portland, only not.)
 

Scribhneoir

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It is with great joy that we report that Karen Joy Fowler's novel, The Jane Austen Book Club, is written in the first-person plural.

Now that's a point of view we don't see every day.

So that's it! When I read this book there was something about the POV that seemed ... off, but I couldn't put my finger on it just was. The fact that the book bored me silly didn't help. I couldn't bear to spend more time with it trying to figure it out.
 

swvaughn

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Second Novel Syndrome?

Hey there, Uncle Jim...

I tried to find an answer to this somewhere in the thread already. I scoured the indices to no avail. If this has already been asked, I apologize.

I'm experiencing Second Novel Syndrome -- kind of. (And oh, what fun I'm having.) See, at first I thought I was just making the term up... one of those things I thought I heard somewhere before, only to find I hadn't. But I Googled it and found a blog entry Tess Gerritsen wrote on the subject, so I guess it exists.

Woe is me.

The thing is, the first book hasn't even been sold yet. I have an agent (Cameron McClure with the Donald Maass Agency... sigh, happy me). And I'm currently (ACK!!!!) on submission. Cue dramatic music. Just before my novel went out in NYC, Joe Konrath announced that he was also on submission, and warned that being in this condition brought out the neurotic in all of us. Too right. I'm doing everything I told myself I'd try not to do -- checking e-mail obsessively, carrying the phone around waiting for it to ring, dreaming of big offers and no offers and the sudden demise of civilization as we know it that would prevent me from getting a deal.

I know the best thing is to write the next book. And. I. Can't. Do. It.

The next book is a sequel to the one my agent is shopping. I've already delivered the outline. It's a good outline (they tell me). I think it will be a good book. But I just can't write it. I despise every word I type into my WIP (and there aren't that many there yet... my progress is painfully slow). I'm appalled at myself. I wrote the one before this in a month.

This is not literally my second novel. Before the one my agent has, I wrote two under-the-beds, four of six in another series, and a stand-alone (published through a small e-press).

Why can't I write this book? Should I just put it aside and work on something else... book five in the other series (my agent's taking a look at those after this one sells), another stand-alone (I have two started)? Should I take a hammer to my computer, stock up on notebooks and move to a cabin somewhere? What the heck happened? I'm usually a high-volume writer -- this lack of output is driving me mad...

Help? <---says the tiny, sad, desperate voice

Thank you. :)
 

ArdillaNegra

Would it be out of the blue to chime in now?

I'm a few years late in coming, it seems, and I have a heck of a lot of catching up to do... but I got to page 49 before deciding I might as well just say "Hello" while I do it.

I'm sure you've heard this thousands of times already, but thank you. Really. I've been reading this forum more than I've been writing over the last few days, but I think it was necessary. I write pretty much constantly, but I was making the same mistakes (rather, faux pas) and grinding them into my habits. Dangerous territory! I've read tons of advice over the years but it always seemed pointless because I'd just read it and dismiss it as opinion, and convince myself that I was entitled to do whatever I pleased. And I'd keep on doing what I was doing. For some reason, this forum actually drove it home for me that I CAN technically do whatever I want, but it can often be to my own detriment. Maybe this forum magically cures excessive hubris. Or maybe it was the Myrtle story that finally did it.

Either way, in the few paragraphs I've written since beginning to read this, I've already noticed a marked improvement. I don't think I've gone a day without at least thinking about writing since early childhood, but this is the first time in awhile that it's excited me like this. Maybe because I'm getting out of my usual style-rut, or maybe because I have more confidence. I don't know what it is. But I'm liking it. I think I'm ready to go back to my regular writing-binge diet. And I'm definitely going to keep on reading.

(I noticed that there was talk about making a compilation of the more salient bits. Did that come to any fruition? It might be a bit crazy to ask now, considering how long ago that was, but it can't hurt to check.)

Anyway-- hello, all! And thanks again for the wonderful advice and tips.

-Grace
 

asorum

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I know it's to going take a while to get from page 6 to here, but...

The comment, "...and they were all run over by a truck," made me start laughing. Has anyone read The Brave Cowboy by Ed Abbey?
 

James D. Macdonald

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Should I just put it aside and work on something else... book five in the other series (my agent's taking a look at those after this one sells), another stand-alone (I have two started)?

Yes, put it aside. If the one on submission doesn't sell it won't have a sequel.

No, don't work on something in another series.

First, write a short story to clear your palate. (See above, this year's Christmas Challenge for one possible way to do this. Hey, mine sold.)

Next, write a totally stand-alone book. Do it this way: Three pages a day, without fail, for three straight months. At the end of that time you will have a book -- and you'll probably have a call-back from your agent.

And watch a couple of movies along the way. And read a few novels just for fun. You have to top off your fun tank. It may be getting low.
 

James D. Macdonald

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(I noticed that there was talk about making a compilation of the more salient bits. Did that come to any fruition? It might be a bit crazy to ask now, considering how long ago that was, but it can't hurt to check.)

Well, yes.

There's the Uncle Jim Undiluted thread, but more than that, there's a book that's in progress based on this thread. My beloved wife and co-author is whipping this raw material into shape. We'll see what comes of that.

Just my posts alone come to over a thousand pages in manuscript format so you see there's some room for trimming and condensation.
 

swvaughn

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Yes, put it aside. If the one on submission doesn't sell it won't have a sequel.

No, don't work on something in another series.

First, write a short story to clear your palate. (See above, this year's Christmas Challenge for one possible way to do this. Hey, mine sold.)

Next, write a totally stand-alone book. Do it this way: Three pages a day, without fail, for three straight months. At the end of that time you will have a book -- and you'll probably have a call-back from your agent.

And watch a couple of movies along the way. And read a few novels just for fun. You have to top off your fun tank. It may be getting low.

Thank you! I think I'll do that. I can see where my fun tank might be getting low. :D
 

Lilybiz

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Hey, a shout out to Grace. Welcome. And good morning to all. I'm always glad when I see an e-mail telling me there's action on this thread.

Keep reading to catch up, Grace. There's so much stuff in here (good and weird), you don't want to miss a word.

I'm glad to hear the book is in progress, Uncle Jim. Talk about a great gift!
 

Scribhneoir

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Well, yes.

There's the Uncle Jim Undiluted thread, but more than that, there's a book that's in progress based on this thread.

Yay!:hooray:


Now, I have a request. For the past few weeks I've been stuck in a rut of write-and-delete, write-and-delete, unable to come up with words of even minimal first draft quality. Please, Uncle Jim, will you give me permission to write crap? I need help before this rut turns into a chasm.
 

swvaughn

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Yog's right. I'm living proof. When my agent took on my book and raved about it, I went right into a sequel, thinking that we had it sewed up for a sale. One year later--the prequel has not sold. Where does that leave the sequel? You guessed it.

Tri

Ouch. That really stinks, man...

I must mope for a bit now. :D Seriously, though, I do agree it's a good idea to work on something completely different for now. My agent has been wonderful about keeping me updated on the progress of submissions, so that's been a big relief (even though the answer so far has been "nothing much yet").

The Maass Agency does a lot of work with series, and I think that's why I've been stuck on this "must write series!" kick. But hey, if this one sells as a series, sweet -- I can write the next book after the contract, and hopefully by then I'll be un-blocked.

Now, if only I can keep this one from turning into a series, too... sigh. My novels have a tendency to lend themselves to multiple books. :D

Thanks again for the advice!
 

jordijoy

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My previous agent raved about a ms I had submitted to her. She signed me to her agency and advised me to get to work immediately on three or four more ms all in the same vein. It was a work of multicultural fiction. I was at that time—and still am working on a SF manuscript that I’m excited about—on most days. I didn’t take her advises and continued to work on the SF. A year later when I parted company with that agent I was very happy that I hadn’t listen to her grand plans, considering nothing became of the first ms. Could you imagine my horror if I’d got cranking’ on three or four more?!!!!:rant:
 

Scribhneoir

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You have my official permission to Write Crap.

Thank you. :Hail: Official permission makes all the difference.

I filled in my name and posted the permission grant prominently in my workspace. Then I started writing. I finished a scene and it actually turned out pretty good. I'm back to making progress. Thanks, Uncle Jim!
 
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