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Everything posted by marguerite

  1. I pass this along for the benefit of my fellow Storyists. My novel is approximately 100,000 words--almost 500 pages in Courier 12. The editor I work with told me to put it into Times New Roman 12 before sending it to an agent. Why? Because to mail 500 pages, the agent would have to use two manuscript boxes, and publishers won't read anything that comes in two boxes! I know, this is totally absurd. The manuscript still has 100,000 words even if it's formatted in Times New Roman and only occupies 360 pages (although it costs me much less to print and to duplicate). So the publisher will spend just as long reading it in the smaller font and may develop eye strain as well! But so, apparently, it is. Far as I can tell, the rest of Steve's helpful suggestions still apply. Fortunately, Storyist allows modification of its styles, so anyone who finds his/her novel exceeding about 80,000 words can make the appropriate changes. Cheers, Marguerite
  2. This was really helpful. Thanks!
  3. A fiction editor I've been working with told me to go check out this DVD, and it's great: Michael Hauge, "Writing Romantic Comedies and Love Stories," available through www.screenwriting.com or the Writers Store. Despite the title, it's really about character development and applies to novels just as well as screenplays; the first half actually has nothing to do with romance. Hauge's an entertaining speaker and presents his points very clearly. Highly recommended.
  4. I don't use index cards now. I do use Word's Notebook feature and the Notes feature in Storyist. I've created character arc tables in Word and written out plot summaries in Storyist. I also use the character sheets a lot and the setting sheets a little. These are probably as close to index cards as I need. I'm still trying to make sense of the plot sheets, which seem a good idea in principle but in practice less useful, because less detailed, than just writing out a plot summary. But in general I use Storyist mostly to keep track of decisions I've made (characters' physical appearances, for example). I also find the prompts useful (sounds and smells, in the setting sheets, say). When writing, I tend to hunt around until an idea shows up and then follow it out to its logical (I hope) conclusion. But it's great not to have to stop in mid-flow to recall whether I gave some secondary character brown eyes or blue.
  5. Yes, absolutely! This is one of the (few) features of Storyist that drives me nuts. I'm sure in a perfect world I'd be totally organized and never decide in the middle of the chapter that I needed another section, or that the chapter was running over long and I had to split it in two, or that I hadn't left some crucial actor out of my character list, or whatever.... Yeah, right. If I click on a plot or character point and click +, I want Storyist to put the new entry there (before or after doesn't matter so long as I know which to expect), not at the end. I remember a previous discussion involving changing sections to chapters and vice versa by using styles, but that's really not the same thing.
  6. marguerite


    My favorite all-around guide is Oakley Hall, "The Art and Craft of Novel Writing." He gives wonderful examples that put flesh on the principles he's espousing. On characters, in addition to Linda Seger's book mentioned by Steve, I like Orson Scott Card's "Characters and Viewpoint." Very practical, clear suggestions. A fun book to look at is Howard Schatz, "In Character: Actors Acting." Great photos of facial expressions that you can use as research. I also have Francine Prose, "Reading Like a Writer," but I haven't read it yet, so don't know how good it is. And for the business side of writing, there's Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook, "Give 'Em What They Want: The Right Way to Pitch Your Novel to Editors and Agents," which includes--in addition to a list of small presses you might not otherwise know about (and that don't require agents)--useful examples of good query letters, synopses, etc. Glad to know about the historical slang dictionary! I'd never heard of such a thing!
  7. The answer to your question varies a lot by publishing house. Most copy editors work freelance, and many publishers who want to cut corners do so by skimping on hiring outside editors and proofreaders. A good editor (fiction or nonfiction) acts as the first and most helpful outside reader, noting which parts of a book are confusing or need building up, which characters aren't quite developed, which plot detail got lost somewhere along the way, and so on. An author can't do this for him/herself at some point because we see the characters and story so clearly in our minds that we fill in the blanks, so an editor is essential. Unfortunately, as you note, a lot of books now get published without sufficient editing. And yes, the writer always has final say--editors query, they don't change things wholesale--although the publisher can refuse to publish something that isn't up to snuff (in practice, though, they generally don't, if a contract has been signed and things have made it to the copy-editing stage). And yes, writers with strong publication records have more clout in terms of refusing editorial suggestions or not receiving them in the first place--not necessarily a good thing, as the flap over Anne Rice's most recent book demonstrates. Everyone seems to feel that s/he knows more than a beginning writer (often they're right, but not always), so agents, publishers, book doctors, and your mom will all chip in with suggestions!
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