The Starving Novelist
I started writing The Fine Line in November of 2009.  A year has past, and with the new year just starting, I thought now would be a good time to "reflect" on everything I've learned.  Well, maybe I won't write everything I've learned (more than likely, you have a life, and have better things to do than listen to me ramble on, and on, and on).  Also, just to ensure I don't bore anyone to tears, I will do this in two parts (part two will be next weeks entry).

1) Writing- sometimes you LITERALLY have to force yourself to do it.  Come up with a schedule and stick to it- no matter what.  I HAD to write at least two pages every night, no matter how long it took.  To most of you, this might not seem like a lot, but I didn't want to set myself up for failure.  I wrote five nights a week (after putting the kids to bed).  I wrote on holidays, birthdays, nights I had to hold my eyelids up with toothpicks, and even when I was sick.  If by some chance I couldn't write, I had to make it up by writing on one of my "nights off."  I stuck to my schedule, and my first draft was finished in six months. 

2) Editing/Revising- I've mentioned this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again- after you finish your project, LET IT REST, and THEN start editing and revising.  I've heard the suggestion of six weeks, but some even recommend letting it sit longer.  This is probably the most valuable piece of advice I've acquired this past year.  It's so important to distance yourself from your project.  It's AMAZING what you find wrong after you've taken a break from it.  I didn't do this, and I could kick myself for not doing so.

3) Writing the query- There is no hard and fast rule for writing a query.  I used to be very anal about this, and therefore, drove myself crazy visiting every website under the sun, trying to figure out the "right" way.  Some say to put the genre and word count at the beginning, some say at the end.  Some say you should always include the first several pages of your ms with your query, some say don't include anything not requested.  I've learned that the MOST important thing about writing a query is the "hook" or "blurb" (another thing, can we require that everyone in the writing business use the same lingo? Thing of how much confusion would be laid to rest).  When it's all said and done, that's what agents REALLY care about- 'can this book make money?'  The second most important thing when writing a query is, common sense.  This means, keep in simple, formal, and respectful.  Mistakes can be overlooked (i.e. addressing the query to the wrong agent- yep guilty!  BUT ironically enough, I did get a request for a full from this agent!), but a lack of common sense can not. 

Next week- the first chapter, agents, feedback, and moving on