Miss Snark’s Crapometer

Thanks to the inimitable Miss Snark‘s Crapometer, I did squeeze some writing in yesterday! Just under 250 words of text, mind you, but new writing nonetheless.

What’s a Crapometer*? This is when an anonymous literary agent such as Miss Snark kindly invites writers to submit their hooks, queries, first pages, etc for her professional review. (Her legion of comment posters also bestow their pithy responses.)

I chose to do this for three reasons, enumerated here: (you know I love lists!)

1. I have a fledgling idea that I’d like to throw out there before writing 400 useless pages. (Yes, in the past I did write a 400 page monstrosity that failed because of the underlying plot, not because of the writing itself.)

2. I am toying with rewriting a previous story, and am curious to know whether or not impartial minds think I should bother. (No, not the plotless horror alluded to in #1. A story that finalled in a respected competition.)

3. Although I kicked myself for missing the first few Crapometers, I laughed and cried vicariously through the web site posts and determined to not let the chance slip by me again.

Since I want to get honest opinions from the crowd, I’m not going to mention which number/post I am on her site until after Miss Snark (and her snarklings) have had a chance to pass their judgments upon my 250 word hooks.

I’ll keep you posted!


* Also known as a “Crapstravaganza”

WRITER LIFE: Cheap Marketing

Today I read an article about cheap marketing by Tracy Cooper Posey.

One thing she suggests that I hadn’t heard before is a new take on an old theme. Any web marketing professional will tell you to provide useful web content if you want return visitors to your web site. Some authors even suggest tying the content in to your story—deleted (or new) scenes, etc. Posey suggests providing real-world information related to your story. If your hero is a pulmonary surgeon, consider having a page devoted to the warning signs of lung cancer and links to reputable web sites with further information.

In a similar vein, she suggests joining a related email list (Pulmonary Surgeons of Rabbitania or whatever) and including your web site URL in your signature line. Since you have related information on your web site, they will find your web content compelling. And since they’re on your web site, they’ll mosey on over to your book blurb, and they’ll think to themselves, “Hmm, a book about Biff Baxter, the esteemed pulmonary surgeon and Chicago Bears fan… interesting,” and then they’ll find themselves interested in your stories.

WRITER LIFE: Keepin’ the Faith

Yesterday, a writer friend of mine hosted a little pity party, where she convinced herself that her writing sucked and she’d never be good enough. Due to such negative thinking, she doubted she could write another word on her story. So, she emailed me, explained the situation, and asked for a swift kick in the rear.

Always happy to oblige with such requests <g>, I sent her the following response. In case it helps someone else (or in case I need a dose of my own medicine in the future), I am posting it here.

Without further ado, my words of encouragement are as follows:

Dear [friend],

As you know, I am always here to give you a kick in the rear whenever you need one. =) <<KICK>>

I don’t really have advice, but I do have an opinion. (What? Erica with an opinion??) Here it is: Having read much of what you write, and having listened to what you say about what you write, I can say with authority that you tend to underestimate yourself. Big time.

Even if your current draft sucks so badly that a black hole is forming in your hard drive, I’m still positive it’s not as bad as you think.

Remember, first drafts are just first drafts. They’re supposed to suck.

Once you get it all down is when you go back and layer in all the good parts that pull it all together.

Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t look as good on paper as it did in your mind’s eye. It will eventually. That’s when layering comes in. *After* the first draft.

What exactly are you afraid of? That your manuscript won’t be as good as the published novels you’ve been reading?

The only way for that to come true is if you stop writing. As long as you keep writing and revising, you can be as good or better as any of the other authors on that line. I have no doubt about it.

More than that, I believe in you. You should, too.

So, since you know I love breaking things down by number due to my
OCD/psychosis/whatever, here goes:

1.) Park it in the chair and write. =)

2.) Whatever you see on the screen is better than you think it is.

3.) A first draft is a first draft. Nobody’s first draft is on the shelves.

4.) Stop aiming for perfection until you’ve got something written that
you can go back and “perfect”.

5.) Reading to get a feel for a line is excellent. However, don’t judge your first draft based on their final draft. In all probability, their first draft had sucky love scenes and no sexual tension until they went back and layered it in.

In other words, I’d probably stop speaking to you if your first draft was equal or better than currently-published manuscripts. =)

Seriously, it’s OK to read for research, but do NOT let yourself compare your draft in any way to any finished product, EVER.

Let me say it again: Do NOT pass judgment on yourself based on anything anybody else does, published or not. I can’t think of anything to kill momentum faster.

6.) As with the medical profession, sometimes it’s good to get a second opinion. If you’re stuck, maybe talk it out w/ a CP or show the pages in question (*cough* *cough* *nudge* *nudge*) because according to your CP, talking things over with YOU has helped *her* through lots of tough times and over seemingly impossible MS hurdles. So pop her in a chair for a brainstorming session if you want. Turnabout is fair play. =)

7.) Park it in the chair and write. =)

OK, that’s all I got for now. Looks like seven cents. And a <<kick>>.