11 October 2018

Your novel's primary conflict

When I sit down to write an edit letter for a client, the first thing I ask myself is: What is this book's primary conflict?

Simply put, a book's primary conflict (also sometimes called the central conflict) is the problem or question that's raised toward the beginning of the book and resolved at the Resolution.

Incognolio by Michael Sussman. Problem: The nonsense word incognolio is stuck in the Author's head and won't leave. Question: Will the Author discover what incognolio is and finish his book?
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Problem: Olamina's community is in constant danger. Question: Will Olamina survive and find or create a safer, more stable community?
Labyrinth (1986 film) by Jim Henson. Problem: The Goblin King has stolen Sarah's baby brother, Toby. Question: Will Sarah solve the Labyrinth in time and get Toby back, or will Toby be turned into a goblin?

My understanding of a book's primary conflict affects the way I construct a reading of the manuscript as a whole and often provides information crucial to a) understanding why certain elements aren't yet gelling, b) proposing solutions, and c) recognizing opportunities to make the book even more impactful. How does it do this, and what kind of information do I glean from it?

01 June 2018

Interview with author Sarah Whelan

It is my great pleasure to host an interview on the blog today with author Sarah Whelan, with whom I had the privilege of working on her debut novel, The Struggle Within, an adult contemporary novel about a prison counselor who finds herself the unwitting instigator of a prison riot. Her book is currently available in paperback and ebook formats on Lulu and Amazon.

Congratulations on publishing your first book, Sarah! Thank you for making time in your busy schedule to do this interview. First things first: what was your inspiration for The Struggle Within?
Thank you, Sione. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce your readers to my debut novel. The concept for this book came from my love of stories with strong female characters and my lifelong ambition to understand and relate to people with diverse backgrounds. Since my work and interests revolve around the criminal justice system, the experiences of prisoners and the counselors who support them are particularly captivating.

I envisioned a situation where a well-meaning but idealistic advocate might inadvertently inspire a powerful, strong-minded prisoner to use violence to force the system change. This is exactly what happens to my protagonist Beth Sharpe and the formidable José Ayala.

04 April 2018

Are you prepared for RevPit 2018?

Whether you're just hearing about the Revise & Resub (#RevPit) Contest for the first time in 2018 or joined us last year, this post is meant to help you decide whether you'll be ready to submit on April 21st and, if so, what you should do to prepare.

But before I launch into it, it's worth mentioning this: You don't need to be a contestant in order to benefit from the amazingly supportive and enthusiastic RevPit community. Even if you decide not to submit this April, you can still join the party: ask questions, favorite, retweet, shake your pom-poms for your friends, find a critique partner, and learn from the editors' #AskEditor and #tenqueries tweets by following @ReviseResub and tuning in to the #RevPit hashtag on Twitter.

03 April 2018

Interview on Write Through the Roof

Last week I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Madeleine D'Este on her podcast, Write Through the Roof, wherein we talked about writing, editing, and RevPit (among other things). To find out about "the beverage triangle," my advice for processing both praise and criticism of one's writing, and a strategy for reading for craft, head on over to Madeleine's site and give this episode a listen!

12 March 2018

RevPit 2018!

I'm thrilled to be a participating editor again in this year's Revise & Resub (#RevPit) Contest!

For those who are unfamiliar with this contest, it's a chance for authors who are querying or getting ready to query their novels to win 5 weeks of editing with a professional editor. There is no submission fee, and all the editors volunteer their time and expertise. The feedback we got last year was intensely gratifying: those who followed the Twitter feed, whether they submitted to the contest or no, learned a ton about writing and querying and were able to improve their query letters and opening pages as a result. As an added bonus, many came away from the experience with new writer friends and critique partners. Regardless of whether you're thinking of submitting, I highly encourage you to learn more about the contest at reviseresub.com. Submissions open April 21st.

This is my fourth time participating in a contest like this (P2P16 twice in 2016 and RevPit last year), and by now I have my approach to selecting and working with authors pretty well nailed down. Since the editors' processes tend to be of interest to authors submitting to the contest - both to get a sense of how much work is involved for us and to learn what to expect - in this post I'll give you a peek into my own process. Please note that each of us editors take a different approach; unless otherwise noted, what I am about to divulge pertains to me alone.