Saturday, March 7, 2009

Three Things On The Web

Thing The First

Voting has opened in the Chase the Dream contest. This is a good, unique contest that lets you not only vote on your favorites, but also discuss the relative merits of each entry. Agent Laura Bradford and I have already made our official judge's comments in the comment threads. Take a look -- it might be useful to see how many people react to the same details in manuscripts, and how frequently we diverge. Reading is subjective, even when it's done by an educated reader.

By the way, this contest has a strong history of connecting writers with contracts. I asked for two fulls based on the manuscripts I saw, but one of the two will go to another editor here. It's so right up her alley. I just know she'll love the concept and the voice. Only time will tell if either of these manuscripts will go to contract, but so far, so good.

Thing the Second

Speaking of editors and agents publicly commenting about real work from real writers....

I don't want to get into a rehash of the #queryfail dramatics on Twitter and various other sites. This isn't the place to settle that debate. However, in the off chance that you aren't already aware of what happened, a group of agents and editors tweeted their responses to queries one day this week. If you haven't already read the actual tweets, go to Twitter and type #queryfail in the dialogue box. I thought there were many smart, educational posts made in the course of the day, and certainly, it might hammer home a few golden rules of querying. (Include the word count. Pretty please?) Could be useful to those about to query.

I'm not taking sides in the ethics debate that erupted over #queryfail. But this might be a good time to remind folks that we don't post specifics about anyone's queries or manuscripts without their permission. If we want to discuss something we saw, we make up details that roughly approximate what we saw but that don't resemble the actual submission.

Please don't take that comment as a criticism of the whole #queryfail process. It's not intended to be. 'Nuff said.

Thing the Third

We were talking the other day about writing fear and some of the ways people cope with that. Along the same thread, a friend told me about a pretty cool little widget called Write or Die. Do you guys all know about this? It's pretty nifty. I tried it out myself and had a lot of fun with it, but I was just writing notes. Maybe it's different if you're drafting an actual scene. I'd love to hear some feedback on it -- you know, I sometimes have to coach writers who are having a tough time with a manuscript, and I'm thinking this might be another useful tool in the toolkit.

But you tell me. Go try it out, and then let me know if it helped or hindered your process.



Julie Harrington said...

Chase the Dream! I did that! :) I didn't win... but I did that! LOL. It got me to dip into both of the paranormal romances I've been tinkering with and I really like the way the one turned out (even if I did have to get it tightened for that 1,000 word limit and have it end in a snazzy spot!) :) Lots of fun to be had there and I've been going back to read the judge's comments as they are added. I had no idea *that* Theresa and *this* Theresa were the same person. What are the odds?

As for the query thing and Twitter... I don't see what the big deal is. It's not like you were saying, "And now Adam Clark from Cedarville, PA - who sent in his manuscript Love is a Snaggletooth Chimp -- really needs to learn how to...." Names were changed to protect the innocent. lol. And if somebody can learn from it, what's the harm? (says she whose book wasn't Twittered About)

As for the Write or Die thing, I took a look and, I don't know. I don't know if that would make me write more or just dread it more. LOL. I'd have to try it out and see.


Anonymous said...

As for the query thing and Twitter... I don't see what the big deal is.

Ditto! When I clicked on the link, I expected to see a bunch of juicy dirt. All the posts were criticisms/words of advice I've already seen on agent blogs, and pretty much common sense, IMO. Darn. I was really hoping for juicy dirt.

Unhinged said...

Well, I just tried the Write or Die program. I set myself a fairly small word limit and the program sounded a trumpet or something when I made the word count. I almost jumped out of my skin!

Anonymous said...

I have written 56k since the beginning of the year and I have a full-time day job. Most of that writing has been using Write or Die! I love it! I also set writing appointments with an online friend, and we both use Write or Die at the same time and then report back to each other after half an hour.

Knowing that I'm only giving up sixty to ninety minutes a day on writing has made the task easier and I am more focused on the task. Writing daily means my head remains in my story.

Using this great tool, I've just reached the end of my first draft.

Now if only Write or Die could stop me drifting away from editing!

Edittorrent said...

Diane, that's very impressive. You're on a pace to write 3+ books this year. Very impressive.

Unhinged, LOL! I didn't have my speakers on when I was playing with this tool, so I guess I missed the fanfare. Was it annoying?

JT, much as I would like to clone myself, yes, it's the same Theresa.

re: #queryfail, the actual tweets were interesting and educational. The fallout afterward was where the drama came into play.

the one and only

Riley Murphy said...

I tried the write or die exercise and besides failing miserably in the unrealistic time frame I gave myself to pen 1000 words, I have to say it was a blast. I do see where this is closely connected to your post about fear. Making the commitment to get the words down regardless of the ‘perfect quality’ of them, lends a permission to write what you want without fear because you don’t own the words you have written until you edit and accept them. And in this case, your internal critic can’t take the time to edit the work, right?

I have always thought that the real fear comes with ‘owning’ the words and putting them in black and white. This is where 'to keep or to kill’ plays a huge role for me and where I also find the courage to write whatever I want. Because at the end of the day I decide what stays and, if I throw down an assortment of unimaginable choices - things I never would have thought I was capable of penning, well, maybe one or two of them will stick and I’ll be happy because I will know that I succeeded to push myself further than if I had never tried at all. And the more I do this, the more comfortable I become with the process

Um, for the record, though? I have weathered the storm of the delete button being frantically pressed, while my face is flaming in singing embarrassment as I drape myself over the computer screen, hoping that even my innocent canine didn’t catch a glimpse of the filthy sentence that appeared seemingly out of nowhere amidst my work! Hey, there’s no sense both of us melting with shame, right?:)

Anonymous said...

Do you have to be on Twitter to see it? I didn't see a dialogue box.

I LOVE "Write or Die" for drafting. If you go more than a few seconds without typing, the background changes from white to pink to red. It cues my mind to the fact that I've stopped, and I start again. The only thing I find weird about it is that I have to add the formatting later, but that's a small price to keep me working.

Julie Harrington said...

Katrina, I had the same problem even when I signed up. I'm so not Twitter Experienced. I am, however, Google experienced and found the direct link to the comments. So here you go. :)


Anonymous said...

Some nice person put it all on one html page.


Anonymous said...

Well, I tried Write or Die, and in 4 minutes wrote the 100 words I have to report to the group, Theresa. :)