Ready to surrender… but an agent’s rejection stalled the white flag

So I’m at that joyous point of the querying process where the rejections are rolling in thick and fast. Now, I’m tough enough to accept rejection, but the hard part here is that, without exception, every email from an uninterested agent comes across as – and most probably is – a generic response with my name merely pasted to the top (although I did get one “Dear Author” email too. Nice). And even though us novice writers are told to expect rejection, it does knock your confidence a little when it’s relentless. Hence, these rejections and their detached nature began to make me feel a little despondent.

As a consequence of this (and the fact that I’m slowly running out of agency options) I was about ready to give up on a traditional publishing deal and head down the self-pub route instead (or just head down the pub). Whilst self publishing was always a plan B for me, it was still a prospect I’d hoped to avoid… and it was knocking the wind out of my follow-up novel too.

However, in the space of just a single email, my faith in my book was restored. Continue reading

Using titles to underscore a character’s context

I’m not usually one for posting writing tips, as until now I’ve never really felt I have the authority to do so. However, since I’ve just finished my first book (and owing to the fact that I learned a lot along the way) I thought I’d share with you some of the tricks that I stumbled upon.

So here’s tip that involves the use of names and titles to convey a character’s personality or underline the context in which you want that character to appear. Confused? Ok. Let me explain…

My hero is called Horatio Lee. He’s a lieutenant in the spacebourne Royal Navy, and hence there are a number of different names or titles I can give him:

  • Horatio
  • Horatio Lee
  • Lieutenant Lee
  • Lee

What I have noticed (due in part to me trying to avoid repetition) is that depending on what I call him in the narrative, I can convey his personality and the place he currently occupies within story. For example:

I call him Horatio when I want humanise him:

This nightmarish scene was especially disturbing for Horatio to witness as he knew those men were only exposed to that maelstrom on his orders.

I call him Lee when I want him to blend into the scene as just another member of the ship’s company:

“Oh yes,” Lee sounded energised, “it’s definitely a ship, but we don’t think it’s a warship.”

And I call him Lieutenant Lee when I want underscore his rank and position amongst the men:

Lieutenant Lee and his officers received them in the captain’s cabin, which was presently cleared for action and more a part of the gundeck than a cabin.

This method can be very useful when you have characters with titles, for instance: police officers, doctors, university lecturers, &c. It’s a great tool for underscoring their exact place in the story at any given time (as mentioned above), but also avoids having to call them the same thing every single time you write their name. It’s not a book-changing writing tool, but it certainly can alter the dynamic of a section of dialogue or action.

Thanks for reading.

Chipping away at MY genre.

So I’ve just had another dent in my bid to become the biggest sci-fi author ever born (or something like that) as I watch what I thought was a new concept and perhaps even a new genre go to the proverbial dogs.

Actually, it’s not that bad, and I’m not so naive to think I’d created a completely new genre. But still…

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 19.23.46Nobody said it’s easy getting a story published, and I’m expecting my fair share of knock-backs when I eventually do set upon the task of trying to get a publisher. But I hadn’t expected to receive any knock-backs quite this soon in the process.

You see, when I initially came up with the particular genre of sci-fi I wanted to write, I thought the idea may be a little novel (pardon the pun). Not unique, perhaps, but at least different.

That – as it happens — is apparently not the case. It has been cruelly demonstrated over the previous few months that others may have already had the same idea as me, dagnabbit.

Still, looking at things optimistically, I’ve done my best to see the positives in all of this.

But I’ll get to that in a second…

After I’ve had a moan…

Ok, so deep down I knew I was never going to find anything entirely original. In all honesty, I just really wanted to write this book. In the back of my mind, though, was always the hope that perhaps there was something new in my novel, and that this would stand me in good stead to get people interested in reading it.

Nevertheless, to find something so close to what I have written is a blow.

But before I continue, it might be prudent to quickly explain what my genre is. Continue reading

The importance of paying attention to coincidences…

I’ve talked about character names on this blog before, and you may recall that I get many of my names from gravestones.

Well, in relation to that, a funny thing happened the other day… or not so much funny, but more such a striking coincidence that I really just had to pick it up and run with it.

So here’s what happened… Continue reading

Finding the joy of writing again

So I’ve just been composing a chapter that I had in mind for book one and really wanted to write, but could never squeeze in, which was a shame because the hero saves a whole star system from being discovered by those dastardly Brits and their Royal Navy and everyone cheers and whoops, pats him on the back and gives him their babies to kiss. Great stuff.

Anyway, after looking forward to writing this so much, I’ve somehow managed to find a place for it at the beginning of book two. And I’m very pleased to say that it hasn’t disappointed.

Continue reading

Get rid of the adjectives? Have you gone mental?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of those people who frequently overwrites. I just can’t get enough of chunky adjectives, hyperbole, laying-it-on-thick, over dramatisation, theatrical adverbs and big, fat, fluffy sentences that you can really get your teeth into.

However…

Continue reading

Plagiarism..? I see no plagiarism

History buffs out there may recognise the quote I’ve adapted for the title of this post: Admiral Nelson is said to have uttered it at the battle of Copenhagen when he put the telescope to his missing eye and said he could, ‘see no ships’. What a witty man he must have been.

He was also a very eloquent man and one who spoke many a phrase worth stealing for my book. In fact, I have already nicked some additional quotes of his and adapted them for my own use…

…and herein lies my conundrum:

Continue reading