It was a pretty useful question, one I'd addressed previously but worth an encore. And I was short on questions that week, so easy-peasy.
I wrote the blog post, and then, as I try to do, I emailed the asker with the date the blog post would be up.
Back came the reply:
I hope this does Not have my name! I did not give permission for this to appear on a blog. I also have no idea where your blog is or how to reach it.
I just put a question in and your name came up.
Can you please email the answer now?
I realized he must have googled his question, what to do when you screw up a query, and my name popped up.
Well, probably stuff about me popped up:
When I realized he did not intend the question to be answered on the blog, I deleted the post. I didn't save to Drafts because that's where I save posts I'm working on, and I might have forgotten this wasn't something I could post.
So, some work went to waste, but no harm, no foul right?
Writer came back three times increasingly frustrated about why I just wouldn't answer his question.
On 12/9/19 1:36 PM, WRITER wrote:
Thanks for deleting the post.Can you possibly simply answer the question though? Your email came up with the remark I could send you a question - not for public listing- just to be responded to.
On Dec 9, 2019, at 1:40 PM, Janet Reid
Questions are only answered on the blog, sorry.
As I'm sure you understand, answering the same questions once for fifty
writers isn't efficient. Posting an answer that fifty writers can read is.
On 12/9/19 4:50 PM, WRITER wrote:
But you already wrote the answer you said.
On Dec 9, 2019, at 4:59 PM, Janet Reid
oh I deleted that immediately when I realized you didn't intend
it to be on the blog.
On 12/9/19 5:27 PM, WRITER wrote:
Still you must remember your thought in one sentence!
What he didn't see was what was at stake for me: the only exception is never anything but the first, and I didn't want to word to get out that if you beg hard enough or look beseeching enough, I'll do what you want rather than what I want.
|Why won't you give the cookie in your hand? It's right there!|
What I didn't care about was what was at stake for him: his query.
I didn't care because it was clear he couldn't see past what he wanted to actually read why I didn't want to provide it. Essentially saying what he needs is more important than what I want is not a good negotiating tactic. But it's also not the point I want to make here.
I yammer a LOT about getting stakes on the page.
But beyond stakes, creating conflict for characters is often as simple as having one character think what he wants is more important than what the other character wants.
What's at stake for X, and why Y doesn't care might be very helpful to think about when you're trying to build conflict in your novel.
There were a lot of ways this unfortunate writer could have saved himself from being a really great illustration of stakes (among other things) but that's a whole 'nother blog post.