Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tip #2 in getting traditionally published

The Importance of Reading:



If you want to write picture books  (illustrations don't get covered here, sorry) go to the library and ask for the CLASSIC picture books for children in both the parent read-aloud to the very young category, as well as the best of the "I can read" books published recently, as well as the best of the "My First Chapter Books" type.  That's pretty much it for picture books, in terms of categories.  Read as absolutely many as you can.  Paulette Bourgeois read every single one in the "Read Aloud" and "I can read" category in the Toronto public library.  Then she wrote Franklin In the Dark.  She's now SYNDICATED with Franklin and I'd guess she's a millioinaire from Franklin by now.  She did not even choose the illustrator.  That's the publisher's job.   swell as all the latest published ones, as well as any that won awards or

If you want to write (e.g.) fantasy for children say aged 8 - 11, go to the library and ask for all the latest fantasy novels for that aged children the library has.  Books are different than magazines so you could go back as far as three years. 

If you want to write mysteries for adults go to the library, ask for the latest well-reviewed novels from the last three years. 

If you want to write interspecies romance look for these books, they're almost all new, but don't neglect Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. 

If you want to write literary fiction keep on reading the literary journals, plus the novels on the Booker Prize Short List, Pulitzer prize short lists, Nobel prize short lists, etc.  And do not neglect the classics.  Austen, especially. And don't assume because you've read the Classic Comics version you've read the book. 

Do not not not ignore reading short stories, whether you intend to write them or not.  A short story tells you a huge amount about novels.  Also, to get yourself known and therefore a likelier bet with novels, you will likely have to publish some short stories first.  This is true with virtually every market except YA.  With YA (young adult) books you publish the short stories after you write the novels.  Weird, yeah.  I know.

ONCE YOU'VE GOT YOUR INTENDED MARKET, AND CHOSEN THE BOOKS YOU WILL READ, THEN READ THEM.  Make notes on trends you see by using a table.  e.g. rows are titles of story read, columns are the authors, the books/mags found in, date of book/mag found in, editor/agent/publisher, and then the following:
(a) subject matter included in the stories
(b) subject matter not included in the books, that you might have expected (e.g. sex). 
(c) whether you see more 3rd person books/stories than 1st person or vice versa (you will see virtually no 2nd person books/stories for children or in standard genre books);
(d) how many narrators each book/story  you read has
(e) how the author handles segues between narrators, if s/he used more than one  (tennis match? i.e. our eyes look through this guy, then that girl, then this guy, then that girl...that's what I call tennis match -- makes me slightly dizzy to read), space breaks (e.g. an empty line where text would go, or a * or some other kind of marker to indicate a change in time, space, or point of view), any other way?  Note: first person will only very rarely have two narrators.  If one of your list of books is like this (I can think of only one in all the books I've read) then how does the author handle it? 
(f) if you liked one of the books a lot, write down the publisher and look in the acknowledgements for any mention of editors or agents, AND the date published.(if it's in a literary or recent genre magazine, you might not get anything more than the publisher, editor, and date).
(g) is there anything that surprised you in this book/story?  Answer this question for all the books right after you read it.  It's important to get your immediate reaction.
(h) is there anything you would do differently at the end of the book, for each book?  Why?  Would it have worked better, or worse?  Again, this should be done as soon as you've finished reading each book.
(h) Compare your own present writing with the writing in this book.  What could you do with your own writing to make it fit better with the category of accepted writing that you have chosen?  Yes, each book, as soon as you've read it.

I'm not suggesting a literary review of these books.  This is a very personal reaction between you and the books/stories, a journey of discovery for you. 

You can start a new notebook for this, or work backwards in the same notebook as you're following Tip One.  I'd use two, if I were doing it. 

You can work on Tip 2 while you're still working on Tip 1 Both these are primary tips.  Don't stop doing either of them until you get published traditionally yourself.

Luck to you, as always!



At 06 October, 2010 , Blogger Jessica Subject said...

A great tip Welwyn. Thanks for sharing!

At 06 October, 2010 , Blogger Welwyn-on-books said...

I appreciate your comment, Jessica. It's hard to do this kind of thing if you don't think people are appreciating it. So thanks very much. WWK

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