Note to Readers
Feature Article: The Proposal
Best Book(s) Iíve Read This Month
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Iím sending out my newsletter mid-month hopefully so you have time to read it before youíre caught up in the holiday bustle! Hereís wishing you and yours a warm and happy season of joy!
BORDERS REGIONAL AUTHOR PANEL
Saturday, November 19, 2:00 PM
91st & Metcalf, Overland Park, KS
Timothy Shaffert: The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God
Whitney Terrell: The King of Kings County
Evan McNamara: Superior Position
Carrie Kabak: Cover the Butter
Karen Brichoux: The Girl She Left Behind
And Me! Iíll be the starstruck oneówhat a talent line-up!
Iím online at least monthly (sometimes more than monthly depending on how much Iím procrastinating on my real work) at the NAL Authors web site, and would love to see you there. Chat with me and other NAL authors: Visit http://nalauthors.com/forums/. Browse around, see whatís cooking. There are lots of discussion threads, as well as ongoing contests listed under (whoída thunk it?) ďContests and Games.Ē
FEATURE ARTICLE: THE PROPOSAL
Oh, God... itís that time again. Proposal time. Yow. This is where I present a story idea and my editor decides if she wants to pay me to write it. No big dealójust my entire career (and how much Iíll earn) riding on whatever I submit.
So, what is a proposal, anyway? Itís different things to different people (ďpeopleĒ meaning ďeditorsĒ... who are people, too, no matter what anyone says). Some editors give the nod after a phone pitch. Others ask for three paragraphs. A few want a bit more. Mine... Mine wants fifteen to twenty-five pages. Along with the first two chapters, or three.
God love her.
But Iím not complaining... at least, not too much. My editor is a mull-er. Which I understand as Iím a mull-er, too. Writing the proposal gives me plenty of time to mull; reading it gives her time to mull, too. It helps me (and helps her help me) clarify exactly what Iím about to do: itís a warm-up to the Real Deal. And since my editor is (usually) delighted with my prose, I donít have to polish the pages within an inch of their little lives.
But itís still hard to do. Primarily because until Iím actually writing the book, I donít know exactly what will happen next. Iíve done the research, Iíve thought about the characters, and Iíve developed definite plot ideas *... But itís not until Iím at the end of the thirteenth chapter that I have any real clue about what will happen in the fourteenth.
So before I write the proposal, I write the opening chapters. The first scene usually explodes onto the page without any struggle, these early pages presenting the ideas Iíve been doing that mull-thing with the longest: I introduce the protagonist. I show the event that puts that protagonist at a crossroads. I ground the reader in the setting. Then, the next few events usually fall into line.
And by the end of the first two or three chapters, Iím actually headed in a particular direction. I think. So I stop and write the proposal, following my current ideas along a story arc to a possible conclusion.
And how accurately does the proposal reflect the finished product...? Usually not much.
For example, in SING ME HOME, Jonís nasty ex- makes a surprise announcement about two-thirds of the way through the book. I had no clue Belinda was going to spout what she did until she actually spouted it. Her little revelation not only changed the entire course of the rest of the book, it required massive revision to the first two-thirds. (Told you she was nasty.) In HOME AT LASTís proposal, the climax involved a fire with a dramatic rescue. In the final version, thereís nary a spark in sight.
So, whatís the point? First, my editor can be assured (and better yet, assure the publisher) that Iím not delivering THE HOBBIT when I promised her GONE WITH THE WIND. Second, she can voice objections to any story elements she finds ďicky.Ē (ďIckyĒ is editorial lingo for... icky.) Third, if she spots any plotting devices similar to ones Iíve used before (unoriginal) or that are overused (cliche), she can warn me.
And finallyóand of utmost importance to meóitís the point where she decides to pay me for what I write.
And then requests a check.
*Previous newsletters on these subjects are archived on my web site.
BOOK(s) IíVE READ IN THE LAST TWO MONTHS:
THE GIRL SHE LEFT BEHIND, by Karen Brichoux
A young woman returns home to face past mistakes. A coming-of-age story thatís powerful in its understatement.
JIMMYíS GIRL, by Stephanie Gertler
High school sweetheartsí lives intersect in middle age.
SHOUT DOWN THE MOON, by Lisa Tucker
Juggling conflicting loyalties and coming to terms with a hard-luck life, a young woman finds the strength to stand on her own. Hard to put down.
COVER THE BUTTER, by Carrie Kabak
Flashbacks trace the life of a 40-something wife and mother finding the courage to put herself first. A fresh, warm, oft-times humorous read.
KATHERINE, by Anya Seton
Written in 1954, this historical novel of the love affair between Katherine Swynford and the Duke of Lancaster, set against fourteenth-century England and based on truth, has lost none of its compelling magnetism. A tremendous read.
Fiction for and about women rediscovering themselves