The Great American Novel

8 de Feb de 2017

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The Great American Novel

  1. Get Published Now! Coronado Adult Education Spring 2017 The Great American Novel February 7, 2017
  2. “If you decide to become a professional writer, you must, broadly speaking, decide whether you wish to write for fame, for pleasure, or for money.” Ian Fleming How to Write a Thriller
  3. Recap of What We Covered Last Week
  4. Non-Fiction - The Hungry Market • Being - or becoming - the expert? • Pursuing a subject - or letting life happen? • Scratching itches - or entertaining? • How much to tell and what’s next? • Getting a publisher to buy your book • Examples and resources
  5. Getting a Publisher to Buy Your Book
  6. You Must Do This: Decide What Your Non-Fiction Book Is
  7. What Is Your Non-Fiction Book? • Narrative Non-Fiction: – A book that tells a true story, often using the techniques of fiction: biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs • Prescriptive Non-Fiction – A book offering information and advice, this includes helping readers improve their lives or learn a new skill
  8. Narrative Non-Fiction • Most narrative non-fiction is produced by someone who has some experience as a writer • Most good narrative non-fiction entertains through storytelling as much as it informs • Biographies typically require an enormous amount of research and need to “hook” if the subject is familiar • Many aspiring non-fiction writers focus on memoirs – the “art” is finding something new to say • At the end of the day, narrative non-fiction will succeed or fail based on the author’s writing skill
  9. Prescriptive Non-Fiction • Prescriptive non-fiction requires decent writing, but the bar isn’t as high as for narrative non-fiction • However, this kind of book is sold on the basis of the author’s platform or visibility • Readers don’t want to be entertained, they want to learn from the wisdom of your experience or insights • Most popular categories of prescriptive non-fiction: – Religion – Business – Self-help: Diet, health, fitness, self-improvement etc.
  10. So What the End Game – What Are You Looking For? • Publishers who publish this kind of book • Agents who agent this kind of book • Once you know that, it’s all about the query • Persistence on steroids!
  11. The Query Letter The “Bell Shaped Curve” For Most • The hook • Mini-synopsis • Your bio • Your closing – “where’s the beef?” – High Concept – Outline – Table of Contents – Sample Chapters • “Bound the problem” for how much time you’re going to spend on getting an “A” in query letters
  12. Before You Write the Proposal • Come up with a “purpose statement” for your book and write it down in one sentence • Then put this into a working question: This book is the answer to…. • Two sources (there are a multitude of them in print): – John Boswell – The Awful Truth About Publishing – Jeff Herman – Write the Perfect Book Proposal
  13. The Proposal – The 100,000-Foot View • Who would read your book? • Why would they buy it? • Where would they use it? • What else is available like your book? • How does your book differ from others? • When did you decide it’s better than Wikipedia? Think about your competition today – not just books, but the internet? Is your book better than Wikipedia?
  14. Your Book Proposal • This is not the time for humility • Think back to when you wrote your first resume • Advice from John Boswell: The Awful Truth About Publishing – Define the book’s audience – Describe the book generally and specifically – Show that your book fills a need for your audience – Show that you are uniquely qualified to write this book
  15. Let’s look at two examples of proposals that worked….
  16. Leave No Man Behind • The “Hook” – Rescue Story (Clyde Lassen – Medal of Honor) • About the Book • Table of Contents • Chapter Summaries • The Market • The Authors • Promotion • Length and Delivery
  17. Leave No Man Behind “An important and comprehensive work on that most American of military imperatives--going in harm's way to get one of our own.” Dick Couch (NYT bestselling author) “Leave No Man Behind is a solid piece of history. Well written, well told, well done!” Darrel Whitcomb Author of The Rescue of Bat 21 “This story has never been told before! Leave No Man Behind offers a unique blend of operational experience and technical description.” Dr. Norman Friedman – author of over 30 books. “George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips have provided a comprehensive, and well-written history of the development of combat rescue up to the present, including dramatic accounts of rescues, among them many never before revealed.” Norman Polmar – author of over 40 naval books.
  18. The Kissing Sailor Cover Quote Table of Contents Concept (Why this book?) Competition (Surely this story has been told before?) Timing (Why are we doing this book at this time?) Methodology (How are we going to pull this off?) About the Authors Chapter Summary The Market Promotion Length and Delivery
  19. The Kissing Sailor “What a wonderful detective story about a kissing sailor and a beautiful nurse – the most famous couple celebrating the end of WWII. Famous but anonymous - until now. I loved it.” Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation “The Kissing Sailor is a whodunit that provides once and for all the identification of the world’s best- known smoochers…You have to read this book!” David Hume Kennerly, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer
  20. A Non-Fiction Writer Margot Lee Shetterly Margot Lee was born in 1969 in Hampton, Virginia. Her father worked as a research scientist at NASA-Langley Research Center and her mother was an English professor at Hampton University, a historically black college or university. Lee grew up in an environment of knowing many African-American families with members who worked at NASA. She attended Phoebus High School and graduated from the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce. After college, Lee moved to New York and worked several years in investment banking: first on the Foreign Exchange trading desk at J.P. Morgan, then on Merrill Lynch's Fixed Income Capital Markets desk. She shifted to the media industry, working at a variety of startup ventures, including the HBO-funded website She married writer Aran Shetterly.
  21. A Non-Fiction Writer Margot Lee Shetterly In 2005, the Shetterlys moved to Mexico to found an English- language magazine called Inside Mexico. Directed to the numerous English-speaking expats in the country, it operated until 2009. From 2010 through 2013, the couple worked as content marketing and editorial consultants to the Mexican tourism industry. Margot Lee Shetterly began researching and writing Hidden Figures in 2010. In 2014, she sold the film rights to the book to William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, and optioned by Donna Gigliotti of Levantine Films
  22. So much for non-fiction… …let’s move on to fiction… …and specifically, novels
  23. Non-Fiction vs. Fiction: What’s Needed to Sell It • Non-fiction: What are you going to write? • Fiction: How are you going to write it?
  24. This Week: The Great American Novel
  25. “For me, I gotta write, and it’s the adventure of it that’s hooked me. As the writer, I can do it all. I get to be the National Security Advisor who recommends the action to the President who must commit the forces. I’m the senior officer who sends his men into action and who feels the pain if they don’t make it back. I’m the enemy and the defender; logistician and staff planner. But most of all, I’m a young man again, that fresh lieutenant who must lead his men into battle.” Dick Couch “So you Want to be a Writer”
  26. 2015 & 2016: “The Great American Novel” • Great or not-so-great? What you need to know getting started • Mainstream or genre? Which way should you go? • Defining your audience and picking a “voice” and point of view • Getting the sale with a publisher
  27. 2017: Pitching, Writing, Selling and Promoting Fiction • The high concept and the pitch • Writing your novel and making it shine • Selling your novel to an agent or a publisher • *Promoting what someone publishes*
  28. Optional Homework Assignment for February 7 • Novels have the lowest barrier to entry of virtually anything you can write except social media • You have a novel idea you want to pitch to an agent or a publisher: – Tell us whether it’s mainstream or genre – Tell us why it is “familiar but new” – Convince the agent it will have fabulous: • Plot • Characterization • Action • Put this into prose you can read in two minutes
  29. Writers (left) and Editors (right) • Beate • Cinders • Frank • Nika • Les • Kelly • Emily • Judith
  30. Beate Crown Publishing Group 280 Park Avenue New York NY 10017-1216 Dear Mr. Simon, I have an idea for a mainstream novel, “Monterey Girls Club.” It is a compilation of short stories by nine women who went to the same home town high school, went their different ways and came together again after 25 years. For the last twenty years they have gathered at the same condo, on a private beach just outside of Monterey, California. I am one of the nine and through the last 20 years, I see how we are all so diverse, but also the same. We each have a story to tell and share with similarities many other women will relate to. These stories are heartbreaking, but also humorous at times. Our stories are about life, love and true friendship. This makes our stories something we all have dealt with, but in different ways.
  31. Beate Sandra Sandra graduated deemed the most likely to succeed. A title that is true to life. She went on to college, received a degree in engineering and worked for a very successful manufacturing firm in Silicon Valley. Sandra married a leader of a local rock and roll band from San Francisco. They never had children. Sandra was our matriarch. Our leader and confidant. She became the center of our little universe. Natalie Natalie was the youngest daughter of our town doctor. She was always the life of a party or any social gathering. She had the spoiled life of privilege. Her father may have been a doctor, but he was also a drunk. There was always a hush throughout her home. Something we all knew, but never mentioned. I recall personally a time when my mother had an allergic reaction to penicillin and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, but he was unavailable to see her. I was angry. Natalie went on to college and lived in Spain for a year to study Spanish. She became a bilingual elementary school teacher. Her first husband died from a brain tumor and she was left raising two small children on her own. There is much more to her life story.
  32. Beate Patrice Patrice was a volunteer candy stripper in high school. I remember her pink striped apron. She became a nurse and eventually managed an entire medical staff in a local hospital. Her father was jailed for smuggling illegal immigrants from Mexico just when we all graduated from high school. Probably how he paid for her education. He spent most of her young adult years in prison. She married and had three children, two sons and one daughter. The oldest son grew up to be the local drug dealer. Her daughter joined the service and came home suffering from PTSD and attempted suicide several times. Her chapter will characterize how she dealt with her life’s ups and downs. Claudia Claudia was a beautiful Hispanic girl that never spoke Spanish. She always became insulted when other Hispanic people assumed she spoke Spanish and addressed her in that language. Claudia would put her nose in the air and snarkily said she does NOT speak Spanish! She married her high school sweetheart and had two children. Life was normal for them until her husband was arrested in Mexico for manufacturing, selling and transporting methamphetamine. Sounds like a story right out of a movie. She remained steadfast to him, even though we told her to leave him and move on. Their court expenses caused them to file bankruptcy. She was broke and alone to raise her two small children on her own. She never went to college and did not have any work skills to speak of. Welfare was her crutch, and her family the support to survive. After more than five years in a Tijuana Jail, her husband came home. Her chapter will continue the saga and the deep love she holds for her misbehaving husband.
  33. Beate Deana Deana was the adventurous one in school. She was a beautiful blonde and all the boys loved her. She experimented with sex, drugs and alcohol. She was our high school homecoming princess and a talented song leader. Everyone adored her. She married a Hells Angel gang member, traveled with the group on the back of his Harley for many years after high school. She had one daughter whose birth caused them to settle down and raise her in a “normal” environment. He became a park ranger in northern California and Deana the happy homemaker. Their daughter is a beautiful, successful architect in New York today. Deana’s husband has since passed away from all of the drugs and alcohol in his early days. And Deana now cares for her retired older sister dying of cancer in Idaho. There is much for Deana to write about in her days between high school and life today. This is just a brief sample of the nine autobiographies we have available for our book, “The Monterey Girls Club.” Our nine lifestyles are so diverse, but yet we have a tight comradery that nothing will destroy. Each story will describe the heart ache we felt and strength we found to overcome some of life’s most difficult obstacles. I am positive women and men will find our stories entertaining, educating and even funny. I look forward to hearing from you. My information is listed below. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Beate Boyd 619-849-0123
  34. Cinders Nimbly she wrapped her arms and legs tighter around the enormous bough, breathing in the fragrant scent of the bark, as she rested her cheek atop its roughened exterior. She took her time with the metamorphosis as the process could not be rushed. She felt the power of the mighty oak seep into her being, hearing it’s internal dialogue, eventually sensing its readiness to accept her. Ever so gently she began easing herself into her new skin. Dear A. Gent, Above is a short excerpt from my novel “Tree Dreamer”, a paranormal eco- fantasy that melds the elements of magic, lore, love, and radical ecological activism into a breathtaking adventure that collates rapid action scenes with the peaceful moments only appreciated in nature. It is a story of a group of friends, working as an organization called Earth-Free, whose mission it is to save old growth trees from destruction, especially by the multi-million dollar corporation Kingdome Industries and our antagonist, the private corporate megalomaniac Seth Kingdome, whose business practices are less than impeccable, even if his manicure is.
  35. Cinders Our heroine, Tree Agapios, has the fantastic ability of shapeshifting into trees, a keen skill for the dangerous work that she does. She encounters our hero on a journey of self discovery while forging his path through forest lands nearby. Satori Griffin is an Indian ascetic and yogi with spiritually honed magical abilities of his own. With the assistance of the Earth-Free tribe of: Tree’s college best friend Bosch, nurturer Gaelyn, task master Bodi, nature specialist Robyn, and girlfriends Jojo and Sunny who keep the land and home running smoothly, they work together toward a mutual goal that is rife with danger and a spine-tingling ending that no one could have predicted. Since I’d hate to keep you in suspense, please reach out and I will forward more magic and adventure from “Tree Dreamer”, for your perusal. I am happy to discuss the possible opportunity of working together to bring this dream to fruition on the page for a wider audience, whenever it is convenient. To dreams brought into reality, Cinders Gott 123.456.7890
  36. Frank I understand that you are writing a book on the life of a global warming researcher. It will be an accessible book that allows the common man/women to understand what it feels like every day to wake up and get on with the life of a field researcher in at times miserable conditions back in the day. I think that I have a unique perspective on the subject that could enhance the feel of your book. My project for two summers was to figure out what might happen when the permafrost in the tundra melts – as it is certainly doing with a vengeance right now.
  37. Frank There was a huge difference between how well things ran between the first and second summers. First summer there was no plan and everyone was miserable. I was in charge of camp dynamics the second summer – better food, very dangerous competitions to blow off steam, everything ran much more smoothly. One specific example was getting the stodgy principal investigator to try to kick over the outhouse with someone in it. It got him to lighten up which made the camp more comfortable. My research results weren’t that insightful. My success was in describing a process that could acquire global baseline data. The data was acquired but now many fear that it and other very valuable data will be destroyed by the Trump administrations to be replaced by alternative facts. If he is allowed to do what many fear, all that hard and miserable field work will be moot. Cheers, Frank Hafner
  38. Nika Hi Agent Smith, I have an idea for a fiction novel, 'Miss 2-1-3-Alpha-Foxtrot'. It's geared as a motivational book for teenage girls that I wanted to share with you. The book is about a teenage girl Avala living during WW2, who lacks self confidence and doesn't fit in at school. Although these troubles are commonly written about, this book is different because Avala finds her place after discovering an old airplane in an abandoned barn. Learning to fly it with the help of the farm boy, Mike, leads her down the path of adventure and mishap. With the town men at combat, and town supplies low, help is needed. Avala is then called upon by a wounded Women Air Service Pilot (WASP) to fly her mission which will save many lives in town. The question is, does Avala have the confidence to fly it? Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Nika Schiazza
  39. The High Concept and the Pitch: The Great American Novel?
  40. Mr. Clancy said none of his success came easily, and he would remind aspiring writers of that when he spoke to them. “I tell them you learn to write the same way you learn to play golf,” he once said. “You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired — it’s hard work.” Tom Clancy Quoted in the New York Times October 2, 2013
  41. The High Concept and the Pitch • What you need to know getting started • Mainstream or genre? Which way should you go? • Getting story ideas • What a reader wants from a novel
  42. The High Concept and Pitch: Of What? • The king died and then the queen died. – A story • The king died and then the queen died of grief. – A plot • The queen died, and no one knew why, until it was discovered that it was through grief at the death of the king. – A mystery
  43. Some Preliminaries: Dean Koontz’s Recommendations to New Writers • Thought • Care • Storytelling • Craftsmanship
  44. Great or Not-So-Great? What You Need to Know Getting Started • Lots of decisions to make: – Mainstream or genre – Publisher or self-publish – Single work or a series – Time-bounding to complete • The competition is intense: – Increasing number of novels published – This means that far-fewer are commercially successful – In many ways, the market is over-saturated – Compared to non-fiction, there are fewer barriers to entry
  45. Two Types of Fiction • Literary fiction o Literary fiction, also known as serious fiction, is a term principally used for fictional works that hold literary merit, that is to say, they are works that offer deliberate social commentary, political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition. • Trade fiction o Trade books are published for general readership, and usually are headed for bookstores and libraries. They are not rare books or textbooks for small, specialized or niche readerships. A trade book can be paperback or hardback. It can occupy a wide range of genres.
  46. Mainstream or Genre? Which Way Should You Go? • Mainstream… • Genre… • Niche… • Other…
  47. Dean Koontz On Generating New Story Ideas • Read! • Write! • Tickle the imagination and generate story ideas by playing around with exotic titles • Type out a bunch of narrative hooks and find one that is intriguing • Prime the idea pump by building up a couple of characters in enormous detail • Whatever you write, you must begin your novel by plunging the hero or heroine into terrible trouble
  48. What the Average Reader Demands of a Novel • A strong plot • A great deal of action • A hero, or heroine, or both • Colorful, imaginative, & convincing characterization • Clear, believable, character motivations • Well-drawn backgrounds • At least some familiarity with the English language • A style with lyrical language and striking images
  49. Defining Your Audience and Picking a “Voice” and Point of View • Who are you writing for? • What point of view should you pick? – What POV do you most enjoy in the fiction you read? – What POV seems most natural to you? • Go for a test drive – Write three chapters in third-person – Write the same three chapters in first-person
  50. Writing Your Novel and Making It Shine
  51. “There is only one recipe for a bestseller and it is a very simple one. If you look back on all the bestsellers you have read, you will find they all have one quality you simply have to turn the page.” Ian Fleming How to Write a Thriller
  52. Writing Your Novel and Making It Shine • Success stems from this quality as a story-teller • That said, the three most important things • Other essential things • The quality control process
  53. Success Stems From This Quality as a Story-Teller “It’s not what you know that counts, it’s whether the reader believes that you know something. This effect is called the suspension of disbelief. Oscar Collier and Frances Leighton How to Write and Sell Your First Novel
  54. Let’s talk about three of the most important ingredients in writing a successful novel…
  55. CharacterizationPlotting Action You must do all three well!
  56. Plotting
  57. “There are only two plots: The hero takes a journey and a stranger comes to town.” Timothy Spurgin “The Art of Reading” The Great Courses
  58. The Classic Plot • The writer introduces a hero or heroine who has just been – or is about to be – plunged into terrible trouble • The hero or heroine attempts to solve his or her problem but only slips deeper into trouble • As they try to climb out of the hole they’re in, complications arise, each more terrible than the one before, until the situation could not become more hopeless, then one final unthinkable complication arises and makes matters worse. • At last, deeply affected and changed by his awful experiences and intolerable circumstances, the hero learns something about himself and the human condition. He then understands what he must do to get out of the dangerous situation in which he has wound up. He takes the necessary actions and either succeeds or fails, succeeding more often than not.
  59. “You can distill anydrama – a Greek tragedy, a Shakespearian play, a modern novel, a TV drama or comedy, whatever – into a simple equation: ‘What do these guys want, why do they want it, and what’s keeping them from getting it?’” Bill Bleich Writing advice
  60. Plots • Create a compelling plot • Write a grabber opening • Write a successful ending • Create a middle that keeps the reader involved
  61. James Hall – Hit Lit • Gone with the Wind • Peyton Place • To Kill a Mockingbird • Valley of the Dolls • The Godfather • The Exorcist • Jaws • The Dead Zone • The Hunt for Red October • The Firm • The Bridges of Madison County • The Da Vinci Code
  62. Let’s take a deep-dive into one well-known way to design or deconstruct a plot….
  63. The Freytag Pyramid
  64. Let’s Deconstruct This Using a Book We All Are Familiar With • Pride and Prejudice • Ulysses • War and Peace • Anna Karenina • Don Quixote • Little Women • The Wizard of Oz
  65. Characterization
  66. “There are only two plots: The hero takes a journey and a stranger comes to town.” Timothy Spurgin “The Art of Reading” The Great Courses
  67. “There are only two plots: The hero takes a journey and a stranger comes to town.” Timothy Spurgin “The Art of Reading” The Great Courses
  68. Important Qualities for Heroes, Heroines and Strangers • Virtue • Competence • Courage • Likeability • Imperfections • Change: – Layers – Arcs
  69. Character Motivations • Love • Curiosity • Self-preservation • Greed • Self-discovery • Duty • Revenge
  70. Character Traits • Physical appearance • Movement and gestures • Past life • Religion • Sexuality • Vocation • Skills and talents • Fears • Dreams • Pleasures • Plans for the future • Sense of humor • Politics • Voice and speech
  71. Presenting Character Traits Thoughtfully • How many major and minor characters to have • All major characters must have a biography • Develop a “job description” for each character • You will know what your characters will do • You are writing a novel – not a movie script – You have to get your characters from Point A to Point B – Your characters are not dead when they’re off the page • What is each character doing? – On stage – Off stage
  72. Take a female character who is on her way to her high school reunion. She’s 50, attractive, divorced, and has had no contact with her graduating class since she left Iowa for Berkley in 1985. There was a guy she jilted when she went off to school. Develop her. • Physical: height, weight, hair color, best feature, worst feature, etc. • Occupation: attorney, doctor, college professor, executive, runs a startup, etc. • Personal: strengths, weaknesses, phobias, attitude toward men, attitude toward all others, etc. • Family: siblings, relationship with mom/dad, rivalries • Relationships: good/bad/difficult, marriage(s), children? Present her in a way that’s not a “police blotter”
  73. James Hall – Hit Lit • Gone with the Wind • Peyton Place • To Kill a Mockingbird • Valley of the Dolls • The Godfather • The Exorcist • Jaws • The Dead Zone • The Hunt for Red October • The Firm • The Bridges of Madison County • The Da Vinci Code
  74. .…let’s color in two characters….
  75. New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly & USA Today Best-Seller! Let’s color in one character, Anne Sullivan, Op-Center’s Deputy Director
  76. “Anne Sullivan was a retired General Services Administration super grade who had made a career in Washington. She knew all about the government, including government contracting, hiring, firing, and funding, and how to sidestep the issues. These were things Williams never had to deal with, even during his multiple tours in Washington.”
  77. “Unlike Williams, Sullivan came from money. Her father had fashioned a successful and lucrative career in finance with Bain Capital Ventures. Between that family money and her GSA retirement, she was looking forward to a comfortable life. She enjoyed the D.C. social and cultural scene and traveled often, primarily to Europe and especially to Ireland. That plan was interrupted when Williams recruited her— charmed her, really, she readily admitted—to be his deputy.”
  78. New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly & USA Today Best- Seller! Let’s color in one character, Kate Bigelow, Commanding Officer, USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) Freedom-Class Littoral Combat Ship
  79. “Kate Bigelow was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. She’d gone to the Academy for two reasons: to play lacrosse and to sing. Coming out of Montgomery Blair Prep in Silver Spring, Maryland, her two passions had been playing lacrosse and singing in her school glee club and church choir. She was an all- state midfielder and also had a strong voice. Her grades were good if not outstanding, but the Academy women’s lacrosse coach saw her play and liked what she saw. Lacrosse was a rough sport, even the woman’s game, and Kate Bigelow, while owning a technically sound game, was not above flattening an opposing player with a legal hit. She started for three years on the lacrosse team, beating Army two of those three years, and had sung in the Catholic Choir and the Naval Academy Glee Club.”
  80. “Kate had graduated in the upper half of the bottom third of the Class of 2002. She’d never really considered a full career in the Navy as a seagoing officer, two things intervened that kept her from leaving the service. She found she liked U.S. Navy sailors and she had a knack for leading them. Secondly, she found command intoxicating. There was nothing like it on the outside, so she stayed in the Navy. She had previously commanded an MCM ship like Defender that now followed them out of Sasebo.”
  81. Here’s a better example
  82. When he finished packing, he walked out onto the third-floor porch of the barracks brushing the dust from his hands, a very neat and deceptively slim young man in the summer khakis that were still early morning fresh. James Jones (From Here to Eternity, opening sentence)
  83. "Jones packs a hell of a lot into that first line. He tells you it's summer, he tells you it's morning, he tells you you're on an Army post with a soldier who's obviously leaving for someplace, and he gives you a thumbnail description of his hero. That's a good opening line." Ed McBain in Killer's Payoff
  84. …plot?...characterization?...which is more important?
  85. Plot or Characterization • You have to have plot to make the reader turn pages • People are the story and the whole story ???????????????????????????????????????????????? • Plot has the entertainment value to pull the reader along • The characters are the vehicle, the tools through which you tell your story • Readers want you to tell them a story • Dialogue brings your characters to life!
  86. Action
  87. “There is only one recipe for a bestseller and it is a very simple one. If you look back on all the bestsellers you have read, you will find they all have one quality; you simply have to turn the page.” Ian Fleming How to Write a Thriller
  88. What About Action? • Action evolves naturally from the plot • There is no “formula” for having action in your novel • As Clancy said, don’t overthink the action • That said, here are some things to consider: – Different kinds of novels lend themselves to more or less – Write all the action you can – then consider Goldilocks – If riveting, hold-your-breath action is anywhere – up front – Balance scene and summary to bound action scenes
  89. But That’s Not All! (Mainstream and Genre) • High Concept (Think in movie terms) – The Coronado Conspiracy – For Duty and Honor • Theme – The Coronado Conspiracy – For Duty and Honor
  90. Selling Your Novel to an Agent or a Publisher
  91. “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
  92. Selling Your Novel to an Agent or a Publisher • In many ways, it’s all about the sale to an agent • Getting an agent to read your proposal and ms • Packaging yourself professionally • The query letter and the pitch • The Treatment • The Narrative Outline
  93. It is All About Getting the Sale • Query agents – get the statistics on your side: – Forty years ago – 30% of books were agented – In the last decade – Over 85% of books were agented • Small publishers – you will likely bear some risk – Probably no advance – Limited print run • Be your own agent – to find an agent: Richard Curtis How to Be Your Own Literary Agent
  94. Getting an Agent to Read Your Manuscript • It starts with being familiar with books in your “field” • Then you find out which agents agented those books • Stay in the library: Get contact info for agents • Go back to what you’ve learned about query letters: – High Concept (back to the movies) – Treatment – Narrative Outline – Full Manuscript • Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: One example
  95. Let’s “Deconstruct” a Treatment and a Narrative Outline
  96. Let’s Deconstruct a Novel Treatment • Cover • Organization • Organizing Impulse and High Concept • The “Old” OpCenter Dies • The “New” OpCenter is Born • New Character Details – Preamble – Those who spend a great deal of time physically at OpCenter – Those who deal with crises overseas in each scenario – Those who deal with crises domestically in each scenario • OpCenter Plot and Scenario Plan – Preamble – Short Plot Synopsis • For us, this was 17,000+ words
  97. Let’s Deconstruct a Narrative Outline • Cover • Front matter • Chapter summaries – Separate sections – One or two paragraphs per section • Epilogue • For us, this was 19,000+ words
  98. Promoting What Someone Publishes
  99. “You are the CEO of your own career.” David Sona Navy Transition Course Spring 2000
  100. Promoting What Someone Publishes • What you should think twice before doing – Pestering friends and family to buy your book – Taking your books from event to event to sell • What you should think of doing instead – Create anticipation for your book – Establish a world-class online presence – Use social media to the extent writing is still first – Write about your book’s subject matter – everywhere • We’ll cover these subjects over the next two weeks
  101. Resources • E.E. Forster Aspects of the Novel • Francine Prose Reading Like a Writer • Richard Curtis How To Be Your Own Literary Agent • James Hall Hit Lit • Dr. Linda Seger – The Art of Adaptation – Advanced Screenwriting • Robert Masello – Robert’s Rules of Writing – Writer Tells All • The Great Courses, especially, Jane Friedman How to Publish Your Book • Bob Mayer (Writing tips on Slide Share via LinkedIn): =1&q=Bob+Mayer&qid=e14407c8-676f-4ab8-9857- 82cab373669b&searchfrom=header&sort=relevance
  102. “Being a comparatively successful writer is a good life. You don’t have to work at it all the time and you carry your office around in your head. And you are far more aware of the world around you. Writing makes you more alive to your surroundings and, since the main ingredient of living, though you might not think so to look at most human beings is to be alive, this is quite a worthwhile by-product, even if you only write thrillers.” Ian Fleming How to Write a Thriller
  103. Slides Posted: E-mail address: E-mail me if you’d like: The Treatment and Narrative Outline for Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes
  104. Next Week
  105. Establishing an Online Presence • Review of weeks one through four – Writing in general – Writing for and selling for publication – Writing and selling non-fiction – Writing and selling novels • What makes your online material unique? • Beating the competition for “eyes” • Balancing content and entertainment • Doing-it-yourself…or…?
  106. Optional Homework Assignment for February 14 • Think of a few writers that you enjoy • “Google” their names and find their author websites • Pick the one that impresses you the most • Walk us through why it’s impressive