I'm so glad the week in review posts are popular! I enjoy doing them too. This week's is a tad late cause of the writing contest but I figure no one will complain about those!
Last week's review had a comment, on the Facebook link about how to build tension, from Mister Furkle:
Suspense is harder than tension. Your post, on Facebook, appeared to be about suspense not tension.
Please correct me if I'm wrong but:
Tension is needed on every page; it happens when a character is upset, two characters disagree, or the MC is trying to do something difficult.
Suspense is created when the reader doesn't know what will happen but desperately needs to know. Will the mission be a success or will the MC's party be captured? How will Anne Frank meet her demise?
Tension keeps the readers' attention while reading a page and suspense makes them plunge into the next scene or chapter.
Of these two, suspense is harder to create.
And if I'm mistaken, let me know. Also, any references to methods to manage suspense would be most welcome.
Well, you're not wrong, or mistaken but I think distinguishing suspense from tension will make us all insane. You did point that a good novel does need tension on every page: that's what keeps us engaged in the story. And we do need to be in suspense about the overall narrative arc. How many times have we put down a book and said "wow, I sure didn't expect THAT" and meant it as a compliment.
Whether we call it tension or suspense doesn't matter to me, as long as it's THERE!
Colin Smith mentioned an episode of Columbo called "Publish or Perish" where Mickey Spillane gets knocked off by evil Jack Cassidy. Of course I had to see what clue the literary agent provided so I watched it on Saturday afternoon. There's a small throwaway part where Columbo references "this guy, he's just a sergeant, he's had some books" and of course he means Joseph Wambaugh who was a detective sergeant in the LAPD when his first few books were written. I'm not exactly sure of the timing here but this episode says 1973 and The Onion Field, Wambaugh's big breakout non-fiction book was pubbed in 73.
Mariette Hartley played the literary agent, so I had to google those great old Polaroid commercials she did with James Garner (boy they hold up well!) and came across an episode of What's My Line from 1963 or so. James Garner was the celebrity guest. More than anything else on the show though, the formal good manners of the guest, host and panel were amazing to watch. The men stood up to shake hands with each panelist as they left, they refer to each other as Mr. and Mrs/Miss (Ms hadn't been invented yet!) and there weren't any sort of naughty undercurrent puns or joking references. (All that changes within about ten years I think)
On Monday we were mostly watching for snow. The weather forecasters had descended into hyperbole by 3pm and when one of our office suite mates said the subways would be closing, the Minion and I looked at each other and said "we're outta here." As it turned out that walk to the subway on Monday was the worst part of the storm for both of us.
And the subways DID get "shut down" but only for passengers. The trains themselves ran all night which meant that the people who needed them most (people without cars working in service industries like food prep and retail janitorial) weren't able to actually get home. I was astonished to learn that Governor Cuomo made the shutdown decision unilaterally. I ranted about it (and I'm still not over it!) on my Facebook page.
On Wednesday the topic was print book rights versus print and ebook rights bundled.
Janet - just curious about your position. If the "Hugh Howey of crime fiction" queried you about trying to obtain a print-only deal, would you turn him or her down? If so, why?
Yes, I've also heard that print-only deals are less likely now than they were when Wool made its big splash because there is a perception that the market has already been tapped out by the e-book. But I also heard that Wool went on to sell an additional 5 million print copies.
I'd say no because I don't know where I'd sell it. The editors I work with are only interested in bundled deals, even if they only intend to print e-versions initially. I don't know about Hugh Howey's sales figures but his agent is Kristen Nelson and she's pretty darn good at her job so I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear he'd done well.
And Kitty, oh my god what a blast from the past to hear about POD-dy Mouth again. The really interesting thing about that interview with Editor One however was that they were CLEARLY confusing self-publishing with print-on-demand. POD is a technology; HOW the books are printed and in what quantities. Major publishers use POD to fulfill unexpected demand or shipment delays. Self-publishing folks certainly use print on demand often, but they also use traditional web-feed printers as well.
I hammered on that distinction for YEARS as I recall. (That interview was 2005)
On Thursday's post about pub credits Julie Weathers said:
I wrote for a weekly, award-winning, national horse racing magazine for twenty-three years. In addition to doing race stories, I also did profiles and human interest stories.
I have had a LOT of people recommend I not include this in my query because this has nothing to do with writing fantasy. I did anyway for two reasons. 1. I wrote well enough for twenty-three years for a magazine to send me a paycheck every two
yearsweeks (glad to hear that was a typo!). Two, it might demonstrate I understand the value of deadlines.
Julie's right. the others are wrong. Writing regularly for a magazine IS a pub credit to mention. If writing this blog has taught me nothing else, it has taught me the value of writing to a deadline six or seven days a week. And regular writing is the ONLY way to improve. I'm not a novelist (although at this point the word count on the blog rivals some SF trilogy I think) but I talk about writing to writers a LOT and it sure helps to have some idea of how it works when I do so.
The only time you don't include magazine writing credits is if you've got a list of novels you've published that are more recent.
On Thursday's post about an agent who left a querier dangling, Julie Martin Munro summed up one of the biggest career-killers there is in writing:
I had a similar experience and my gut told me to do just what you've advised, but . These words I didn't...I was too afraid to rock the boat, ruffle feathers, I don't know what. I ended up losing a year of querying...and much hope tooalone "And I do reply" tells me I should've followed my gut. Thank you.
I cannot emphasize enough that this is YOUR career, and agents work WITH you; they are not demi-gods (ok, other than ME of course) to be approached like the King of Siam.
Turns out CarolynnWith2Ns has decided to do some painting! It's too cold here in NYC to paint yet but I'm getting the itch after reading that!
On the office front this week was the culmination of a move that started in August 2012. We ditched our old space on 35th Street for the new digs on 29th. Loved the new space, but soon found it had some limitations…like it was too small, and the Minion either froze or fried with the ac unit by her desk.
When one of our suitemates decided to give up his office, we pounced on it. After painting it, getting the phone/internet moved, it was time to move the rest of us.
I've always said "this is New York City, you can rent anything" and I was glad to discover you can rent handsome strong men to move furniture. Jason was pretty amazing. He showed up exactly on time, started working, never sat down once, and had us out and in record time.
Now the fun stuff starts: getting the books back on the shelves, the art back on the walls, and the liquor cabinet positioned. Oh who am I kidding. The bar was the FIRST thing we set up.
I meant to post pictures here but as usual, time got the better of me, so the photos will have to wait.
I'm working on the blog posts for next week and there are some good ones! See you then.