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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Passion and Paring Knives, part 1

For great writing, you’ve got to have both passion and paring knives. Last weekend I attended the newly-formed Centex chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers, and fellow author Eileen Key was our fabulous speaker. Her topic? Howdy, editor!

She mentioned being passionate about your story. You must love it. If you don’t love it, you need to reevaluate why, especially before meeting an editor at a conference. The book is your darling, your baby. You’ve devoted countless hours in research, plotting, characters, twists and turns, and you’re hoping, praying, wishing, believing that an editor will love it, too. But being passionate about your story only helps to a certain point.

For example, you might decide to enter your story in a contest, and you might discover that not everyone sees your creation as a darling. Like any good parent, you could be offended. Incredulous that the judge didn’t appreciate your work. You talk to your friends, who’ve sung the praises of said darling story. So then you perform a modicum of polishing before submitting it to an editor, and here comes the inevitable “thanks, but no thanks.”

But wait…steel yourself, get out the paring knife, and pull up the chopping block. Writing is a business, and comments about your darling aren’t meant to be a slight. Think of your book as a commercial product now instead your blood and tears poured onto paper. Sounds sterile and cold, but walk into any bookstore and you’ll see rows upon rows of product. I guarantee you for each book, there’s hundreds if not thousands of proposals that didn’t make it. The harsh reality is that publishers want to make money, and I believe they really do want the best product possible.

So what surgery can you perform on your story to make it stand out, in a good way?
To be continued…


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