Monday, August 10, 2009


Ten months after I first submitted it to a publisher, the manuscript of my latest novel has come back. Four months ago, one of their editors asked to see the rest of the story. (I had submitted, as required by this publishing house, the first five chapters, along with a synopsis of the whole book.)

I think I knew it had been rejected long before the package was returned. I'm sure that, had it been accepted, I would have been contacted by phone or email.

I read with interest the editor's comments and the sad fact that there was no room for it in their publishing program at this time. Even if one editor likes a story it has to be approved by a long line of other people at the publishing house, including the sales and marketing team. Naturally, they're looking for a bestseller.

Rejection is always disappointing, but this time, it was less so. Because I know it is a good story, that the writing is strong, the characters fully developed and my two main characters especially engaging. It's the best thing I've ever written.

Now, after being away from it for a long time I'm able to re-read it with fresh eyes. What happened that the later part of the story failed to live up to the promise of the first five chapters?

It needs work but I'm feeling positive about it. One day I'll send it out again. Somewhere I believe there is room for this story. And someday some young reader will fall in love with Ivy Chalmers.

Write on, with courage!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Screenwriting techniques

I'm applying screenwriting techniques to my new novel-in-progress. It's an interesting process. The technique involves writing the story in Three Acts. I have developed the inciting incident early in Act I. This incident forces the main character to make a decision. The decision that comes at the end of Act I changes the direction of the story.

Act I in my new novel covers the first five chapters. I have reached this point in the writing. Next comes the middle section--Act II. For me, this is the hardest part to write. I know where I'm going, but I must not make it easy to get there. I will create barriers so that the main character doesn't get what she wants without a struggle.

To create interest, I will need a combination of scenes of tension and of relaxation. Just when things are looking good, bad things will happen, until finally the crisis comes that ends Act II. I don't know yet what this will be, only that reaching her goal has now become more dangerous for the main character.

The last three chapters of the novel will make up Act III. This is where the climax of the story comes. Afterwards, the story should end as quickly as possible. I know from experience that any subplots in the story must be concluded before the climax and, of course, the cardinal rule: Never take the climax out of the hands of the main character.

Write on!