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Lit Fic Check-In?

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

ap123

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Hi all. :hi:

Glad to see you're still pushing through, Animad.

I feel where you are, Chris. And I agree, shaming yourself or allowing yourself to be shamed is not/should not be a part of this process.

Lakey--sounds like you're working and getting it done, I'm so glad to hear it!

I haven't been writing. Finished that WIP, queried, got requests but no offers, probably 50/50 of no response after requesting the full and nice words about the character/writing and thanks but no thanks--no actionable feedback. Story of my life.

A few months back I sent a short to a couple of lit mags, had an interesting back & forth with an editor, who requested to see other stories, liked one of them, asked for revisions, I sent requested revisions....crickets.

I've got a couple of ideas--one for a short, one for a full length--I have some notes and opening lines for each, but can't get back to the head space of building and completing a story. That why-bother voice has become so pervasive I think it's my new heartbeat.
 

Animad345

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ap123, I saw your post in Gs&As - that's fantastic news!

I can't believe it's already October. In respect to my own writing, I've managed to get unblocked and I'm working steadily on my manuscript. I'm going to be entering a novel-writing competition, where you need to submit 200 words about your story and a 1,500 word extract. For the extract, I will use part of my first chapter, but the 200 words is always a struggle to get right. It reminds me of back in 2013 when I went through QLH! It was an amazing experience because I got so much stellar advice, but gosh, it really is so hard to summarise a novel effectively. Chris - I strongly recall that you were one of the people who gave me that amazing advice, so thank you so much for that!

How is everyone this month?
 

ap123

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Thanks, Animad!

Fantastic news that you're now writing again!

A 1500 word excerpt is great, gives enough space for them to get a real feel for your writing, MC, and direction. The 200 word summary...not so much. Query, blurb, summary, those bits are always so, so hard. Wishing you the best of luck with this!
 

Animad345

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Thank you so much for the best wishes, ap123 :)
 

Maddy Knight

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I came across this from the mega-prolific Isaac Asimov some time ago ...

Asimov urges writers to avoid trying to be too literary in their style, lest they spend too much time trying to craft "prose poems", and not enough time getting their writing done. "I have...deliberately cultivated a very plain style, even a colloquial one, which can be turned out rapidly and with which very little can go wrong."

I have seen reps that still request it, others who say it's too difficult to sell. And yes, what really constitutes Lit Fic? I'm pretty sure my writing falls under that catagory, and I am currently shopping my first (complete) novel around as Women's Lit. It's a fuzzy line.
 
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ap123

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Maddy, some agents rep lit fic, others do not. People look for different things when they read--a good thing, or we'd get a dozen books a year with a one size fits all approach :)

If you're unclear about what you write and/or the mss you're currently querying, this link (also stickied in this forum) may be helpful to you.
 

Maddy Knight

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Thank you for the link. I see I have my reading for today.

I do look for reps that welcom Lit. No takers so far. :(


.........................

I am constantly, constantly, constantly kicked out of the AW system when trying to post. I took me 7 sign-in attempts to make this one post. I have tried switching browsers, cleared history and cookies, and I still have this nightmare. It tells me to refresh, then I don't have permission to do this or that, so I close the browsers, start all over. Again and again and again. Am I the only one having this problem??

Once I am able to post, I move to another topic somewhere along the AW menus, and then the problem starts again. Every time.
 
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ap123

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Thank you for the link. I see I have my reading for today.

I do look for reps that welcom Lit. No takers so far. :(


.........................

I am constantly, constantly, constantly kicked out of the AW system when trying to post. I took me 7 sign-in attempts to make this one post. I have tried switching browsers, cleared history and cookies, and I still have this nightmare. It tells me to refresh, then I don't have permission to do this or that, so I close the browsers, start all over. Again and again and again. Am I the only one having this problem??

Once I am able to post, I move to another topic somewhere along the AW menus, and then the problem starts again. Every time.

Are you getting requests when identifying it as Women's Fic? Either way, once you have 50 substantive posts, you can post your query in QLH, and get thoughts and help over there. IME, when querying lit fic the query needs to be heavier on voice, but most of the basics apply regardless of genre or category. Until you're ready to post your own--and after-- critiquing queries is an excellent way to get a real feel for what does/doesn't work.

I can't help with tech stuff at all, sorry!
 

Elle.

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I came across this from the mega-prolific Isaac Asimov some time ago ...

Asimov urges writers to avoid trying to be too literary in their style, lest they spend too much time trying to craft "prose poems", and not enough time getting their writing done. "I have...deliberately cultivated a very plain style, even a colloquial one, which can be turned out rapidly and with which very little can go wrong."

I have seen reps that still request it, others who say it's too difficult to sell. And yes, what really constitutes Lit Fic? I'm pretty sure my writing falls under that catagory, and I am currently shopping my first (complete) novel around as Women's Lit. It's a fuzzy line.

Genres and categories can be so confusing.

Women's fiction is a genre (I have real issues with that label but that's a different discussion) and literary is a category so a story can be women's fiction and literary. Also literary is a spectrum so it goes from accessible literary (sometimes referred to as upmarket) to very experimental. Pure or high end literary is definitely tougher to sell because it doesn't sell much in terms of numbers so agents and publishers only buy what they believe will win prizes, but there are a lot more opportunities on the upmarket/accessible literary.
 

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I don't have the tech problems Maddy. I currently use Chrome as a browser. It's more robust for various applications.

I love the link AP posted. I've read through it before. This time, I was surprised to see Station Eleven listed as literary, and that sent me down a rabbit hole, and I was happy to see that elsewhere on the web it is called upmarket science fiction.

Some of my CPs say I write literary, but that's wrong. I can feel it in my bones. I feel definite impostor syndrome when looking through agents seeking literary fiction. But I'm not writing commercial, either. So it was good to be reminded of upmarket, and in fact the books in that category are some of the big ones I draw from for inspiration.

And that sent me searching for 'upmarket science fiction' since science fiction is genre fiction (usually commercical) which is how I ended up seeing Station Eleven categorized a second time, instead of literary.

So I guess I aspire to upmarket science fiction, not that anyone asked. :)

And i successfully procrastinated on today's work through all of that. :)
 
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just_this_girl

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hi there ap123 & all you other literary writers,
I'm new here but just wanted to say i have the same problem as many of you. I write literary fiction, but it's definitely not the experimental / difficult to read kind!!
So sometimes i just say 'book group' fiction.
Woollybear have you read Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake trilogy? It is definitely sci-fi, (much more than handmaid) and definitely literary. Might be a good comp for you?
 

Woollybear

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(Hi girl! yes, I tried O&C but DNF. Love some of Atwood's stuff--amazing writer. But she's one reason I'm pretty sure I'm not literary; instead, possibly upmarket.)
 
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Animad345

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Happy New Year, all! How is everyone? What are you guys working on?
 

ap123

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(oops, I missed the post from Just This Girl--if you're still popping in, hi and welcome!)

Happy New Year to Animad and to all!

How is everyone?

Animad, when will you hear back on that competition?

I took a long writing break. Had an idea for a new full last year, wrote an opening and have made the occasional note but hadn't actually worked on it after that. Wrote a tangentially related short last month, and am now trying to get myself back to writing and see what that idea can become.
After reading the short a friend had mentioned the thought of writing not a full length mss, but connected shorts. I've never done that and it's kind of tempting, but I worry a mss of linked shorts would be even more difficult to place than a full. I just don't know. So for now I'm just trying to force myself to write, and I'll decide the shape as I go along.

I had a short published in an online lit mag last month, and another is coming out later this winter.
 

Animad345

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Thanks for asking ap123 - I was unfortunately rejected, but I'm glad I put myself out there. It had been a while since I'd entered anything and I didn't want to get stuck never submitting for fear of failure.

I've been in a massive rut with my current manuscript, so I've been writing little individual snippets with the characters to get the ball rolling again. It's something of a writing exercise for now, but some scenes feel like they would belong in the novel, so I might extend them and include them in the manuscript once I'm stuck back into it.

Fantastic news about the shorts, that's awesome! :partyguy:
 

Chris P

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Good to hear the successes, and sorry about the disappointments!

I've been getting interested in my own writing again, and I realized it's been 9 years since I've had a short story published, and 6 years since my (very poorly selling) novel reverted back to me when the publisher went kaput. I'm considering trying to get the novel with a new publisher, getting a finished novel queried (it's been done for literally years and I've let it sit!), and finishing up several WIPs. One of these is done in the first draft, two others are 50% done in the first draft, and yet another two are little more than extended outlines with scenes (even I'm technically pantsing). So all told I have like six books I could be working on. But reading books and nibbling cinnamon bears is easier.

More honestly, I've really had trouble re-engaging with my own work. I open the files, and with 15 minutes I'm doing something else. This has been going on for a few years. I feel like I need to stop whining about it, but the desire is still there until it comes time to start doing it.
 

Lakey

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Hello everyone. Happy new year. I wish the best to those of you looking to reengage with your own work. I’ve been there myself, and it can be brutal.

Where I am: I have about 15 submissions pending, spread across three different stories. I’ve been pretty good for the last few months about sending out another submission the moment a rejection comes in, so I’ve maintained that same level, but I expected a little activity at the end of the year and didn’t see any. So we wait.

Writing: In the fall I began a systematic march through the first draft of my novel, with an eye toward improving certain weaknesses in plot and character. I was making good progress for a couple of months, but then I hit an absolute wall, certain that none of the work I had done would have any effect at all on those major problems. And so, I stopped dead at the halfway mark.

A very kind friend offered to type in all those revisions, so I sent it off to her, and it took her less than a week to do what it would have taken me months; for her it was just a mechanical task. She read the rest of the manuscript too, with all my caveats—the very first person to read my novel—and we had some good conversations about it. (She isn’t a writer but she is a thoughtful and imaginative reader.)

Upshot: I’m still pretty sure that it’s no good, and more seriously than that, sure that the story needs to go in a direction which I am not the right person to write. Still, I’m slightly less horrified by the thought of returning to it, and giving it another try.

With that in mind, I’ve applied for a workshop* that, if I get in, will force me to focus on the novel for 10 weeks or so. I’ll find out in the next couple of days. In the meantime, I have started poking at a short story that will likely be unpublishable, though that won’t stop me from trying—at any rate, I like the story and I’m enjoying revising it.

:e2coffee:

* Nothing fancy; please don’t be overly impressed. Most classes this organization offers have no screening at all, so I suspect the screening here is just to make sure you’re not writing in crayon, or in Martian.
 
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Chris P

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Based on my musings above, I dug out the original manuscript from 2012 of the published novel and have spent most of the day re-reading it, for the first time since it was published in 2013. The writing is . . . I would say "competent," and I'm certainly not dazzled by my own words. From the beginning I wrote it as a commercial novel, so focused more on situation than on the people, and didn't try too hard for clever wording. In the end, I think I told a decent story well. There are a couple scenes I'm a little sheepish about, and perhaps I'll consider ways to improve them once I finish reading the whole book (I'm about halfway through).

When it was going through publication, my editor had me cut some stuff I thought should stay, and reading it now although I see her point I don't think (and never really did think) outright cutting them was the right solution but did it anyway. Or cutting as much, which required me to shoehorn in essential details into later scenes that seemed disruptive to me. I also see anew the strengths the editor noted, and had encouraged me to consider including more of in future work. It turns out she was pretty well right on a lot of things.

Question for you all: If (note: IF) I were to seriously consider self-pubbing or look for a publisher that accepted previously published novels (yes, I know they are vanishingly rare) should I start with the original knowing I might need to make some of the same revisions I did the first time around, or start with the edited and published final version assuming it is better off for the editorial input? Have any of you done this? What did you do?
 
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ap123

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animad--I'm sorry about the rejection, but yes, putting yourself out there is everything--and the only way good things will happen. :) Writing individual snippets as they come is an excellent way to get yourself back to your novel. For getting into the right headspace, and because those snippets add up!

Chris--It's hard when you can't focus and want to. You'll get there when you're ready. As for the pubbed book and what to do, I have no experience. My gut says move on and work on one of your WIPs, using what you learned from the published novel to make it a) as good as it can be, and b) what you want it to be. But again, I don't have experience with this, and my gut is not known for sound publishing advice.

Lakey--I have seen some of your writing, and find it hard to believe what you have isn't good. Good enough is a different question, but I am certain you have the chops to make it what it needs to be, take it in the direction you want to take it in. That you're keeping yourself subbing is excellent, as is your application to the workshop! I hope you get in, and participating does what you want it to do. :)

I've been noodling with that opening the past few days, still have no clue if I should be working with an eye towards linked shorts or a full length mss. I can't help but suspect linked shorts will be easier for me to write but harder to place. As it is, what I write isn't commercial, should I really be making it harder on myself?
 

Chris P

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Thanks ap123. The whole "write your next book," and I have plenty of options, is always sound advice. Once I get Big and Famous[SUP](R)[/SUP] if someone is clamoring to re-publish it we can discuss it then. Big and Famous won't happen with this book, so there MUST be a next book. In the meantime, I'll finish reading it through for old times sake, and maybe some inspiration. Yes, I can write a book that gets published. I will do so again.