Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Looking for help with your novel?

I was stuck at home this morning waiting for a FedEx delivery.  (If you live in my building, any package left at the door is considered fair game for thieves!)

Because I had a few extra minutes I was able to give a querier some extra help.  My tools involved a hatchet and a bucket to catch the blood spatter.  "Murder your darlings" took on a whole new meaning.  She sent me three pages; after I was done she had about six paragraphs.

Fortunately this is not a story about a writer who didn't value feedback. She did. She was very nice about thanking me for slicing her work to pieces.

Unfortunately, I am not at home waiting for the FedEx delivery man every day.  Most days I'm at work brutalizing the minions and calling for the heads of uncooperative editors. Most days her work would get a form rejection and not a comment more.

If you're getting form rejections and you can't figure out what the problem is, you might want to take a class so someone can murder YOUR darlings.

There's a pretty good one being offered by Jenny Milchman and Butch Edgerton starting Feb 23.  One of the best things about this is it's offered via Skype.  You don't have to be in NYC to take advantage of it.

The details are here.

Both Jenny and Butch are pals of mine.  They come with my highest recommendation. Butch is the author of HOOKED a book I recommend to writers as a must-have.  Jenny is the hilarious and talented events wrangler at Wachtung Books in New Jersey--and the author of a book that I am very much looking forward to buying when it's published.


Gabrielle Prendergast said...

Just bought the book, HOOKED but it's LES Edgerton, yes?

Serendipitous feedback from top agents and editors is like gold. Treasure it writers, treasure it.

Rashad Pharaon said...

Do you recommend any additional books on the craft as must-haves? A lot seem to be recycling the same information. I realize they hold the same lessons, but after reading thirty or so, I'm finding it harder and harder to pick up another one. I enjoyed Stephen King's more informal book "On Writing".



Leah said...

All - I took Jenny's last class (Polished and Published) and I honestly can't say enough good things about her! She's very smart and cares a TON about her students - and now I'm happy to call her a friend.

So I know this class will be amazing!!

Sign up - you won't regret it.

(Janet - I was hoping you'd post about it so I could comment! Hooray!)

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Janet! You rock (as always!). This is a big help for getting the word out.

And, Garbrielle--it's both Les and Butch. Butch is a nickname only my fellow ex-cons know... Don't know how Janet knows this... :)

Blue skies!

Feaky Snucker said...

Damn it. I'm sick of being poor. :( And by 'poor' I mean, 'Supporting two people on $700 /month,' not, 'gee I'd have to skip a few lunches with the girls this month to afford the course.'

It's a good thing we can't sell blood for money here in Canada is all I'm saying.

Birgitte said...

Les in book form ("Hooked") is a blend of humor and intimidation that forces every writer to take a butcher knife to every one of their darlings. Hence the nickname "Butch" I suspect. (Okay there may be other reasons that we aren't going to discuss here)

But when you experience Les in "real life" not only do you kill those darling, you learn to call them by their real name: "overblown writerly crap." Makes them easier to slice into bits too, so there's that.

I'm already hooked into a Les class. If you're not, take the skype class. You'll learn how to carve your story with maximum impact and minimum blood loss. And you'll write stronger for it.

jennymilch said...

Thanks, Janet, you darling murderer of minions and paragraphs. Your write up is a lesson in how to hook. Right, Les?

Leah, thank you for your kind words. It's easy to teach students as talented and motivated as Leah.

Feaky and anyone else, if $$$ is preventing you from taking a class with me, write me and/or Les. I can't promise anything but we will talk. Money shouldn't interfere with the writer's journey. I I ever get rich, I'll be able to walk the walk better, but for now I'm trying.

Thanks, you all, for your interest.

Stacy Beauregard said...

@ Rashad, Elements of Fiction Writing series?

Maegan said...

I’ve been a student of Les' for about a year and a half—both as a private student and in the college setting. I can’t say enough good things about him. If you want to take your writing to the next level, he’s the guy to hitch a ride with.

NotWarriorPrincess said...

Janet knows all the aliases. I'm betting her address book is packed with the contact info of all the classiest probation officers.

Jo Schaffer said...

Good advice. I murdered some and was on the verge of murdering more-- but then an agent fell in love with my darlings. (= Saved in the nick of time.

Terri Coop said...

I have "Hooked" on my reference shelf. That was an awesome favor you did for that writer. Someone did it for me once and it stuck.

A few weeks ago I was working on a submission for an anthology. I wrote the storyline without thought to word count. The first draft clocked in at about 1300 words.

I double-checked the sub requirements and it was either under 500 words or over 3000.

Well, heck. I either had to make my story more than twice as long, or less than half as long.

I decided to go short. To double it would have required a lot of padding, the point of the tale was narrow and straightforward. So, I went to work.

Two hours and a bloody hatchet later, it was 499 words and a better work. All the redundancy was gone. And it was accepted into the anthology and will pub sometime this summer.

Darlings have a life expectancy of about a week around here. I am looking at things to see if I can swing the recorded version of the classes or maybe a consulting session or two. Hmmm . . .


Wry Wryter said...

A big-time agent helped me once. Took my first three paragraphs, mixed up the little wooden tiles and Scrabbled them into an excellent opening. The feedback changed everything because I changed everything. Maybe I was that agent’s project during idle-time.
Waiting for FedEx may have changed someone’s entire writing future. Good for you.

Steven J. Wangsness said...

Thanks. Now, can you also help me lose weight?

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Thank you! My schedule won't allow me to do the live course, but I think I'll order the pre-recorded lectures. I'm doing revisions now, so this may help.

Cole Howard said...

You do realize that with this post you've put your FedEx man in grave danger, right? You offer free feedback when he doesn't show? Hmmmmm....