Rejections # 6 and 7

16 03 2008

E-mail queries are the best. Seriously. Under normal circumstances it might have taken me 3 times as long to collect as many NO’s. But even well established writers like Jodi Piccoult and Stephen King were rejected numerous times before getting the call up into the big leagues. Not that I’m comparing myself to writers of their caliber, just using them for inspiration. Like how in high school, my friends and me of the end of the bench posse on the high school basketball team took solace in the fact that even Michael Jordan had been cut. I’m not sweating it.

This post is really all about passing on some good writerly advice passed on to me blog hand from super agent Anita Diggs. It’s about story and character building and I’m passing it on because it is a good solid gut check.

Reposted from http://www.thebookagent.blogspot.com (2/16/08 post)

Here is a very simple formula that may help you in the future. Plan your novel before you start writng it. The plan should include the following:

1. Who is your main character?

2. What does your main character want? (World peace? Romance with a special coworker? A three bedroom duplex in a brownstone?)

3. Why can’t your main character have it? (Not enough power? Too timid to ask for a date? Not enough money for the duplex?)

4. List eight things that your main character will do in the novel to get what he wants.

5. List seven ways that your main character gets knocked down while attempting to get what he wants.

6. The eighth attempt is the resolution of the novel. He either gets it or he doesn’t but the journey has changed him along the way. He is not the same person as described in Step # 1.

Numbers four and five are what makes for great reading. It is STORY. Number six is the climax. If you’ve done a good job with numbers four and five, the reader is still anxiously turning the pages. Otherwise, don’t worry about number six because the reader closed the book a long time ago.

As an agent, I should know the answers to Numbers 1-3 by the time I’ve finished your 25 page sample. I should know the answers to Numbers 1-6 by the time I’ve read your synopsis.

Pick up Gone With The Wind, The Lovely Bones, The Devil Wears Prada, The Godfather or Waiting to Exhale and read the first 25 pages. Then look at this formula again.

Thanks Anita…

“There are countless ways of attaining greatness, but any road to reaching one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity.”

-Buck Rodgers

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