Writing Books/1st novel

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Question
I have an idea for a story, which has been in development stage for the past couple of months. The problem is I tend to write a little bit then stop. I do this because I feel that Iím jumping too quickly into the action and not giving enough description on surroundings or character traits etc.
Do you have any suggestions on how I can help the reader feel like theyíre a part of this fictional world but without slowing the pace?

Also, when a publisher starts reading a manuscript what are they generally looking for? Would it be the originality of the conflict/ideas for that particular genre?
Or the skill at playing with words to create the desired effect? Or both?
Iím just curious because Iíve heard that some publishers wonít read past the first few paragraphs if the story doesnít grab them.
I just need a couple of pointers to aim for.

Thanks.  

Answer
Good Morning Steve,

First novels are always the hardest. I will try to give some help with your concerns:

As a writer, the need to get to the punchline is always the most fun. Instead of just plunging into a first draft, experiment with one or more techniques for exploring your subject. I do this everywhere I go, taking with me a small notebook and pencil and writing everything I see or hear down. Often I will stop when an idea hits me to sit and write it done before I've forgotten it. Aim for quality, not quantity. You don't need to have 85,000 words in your first novel. Filler is never a good idea, and will bore your readers to sleep. Use clustering, a process that highlights relationships among ideas. Or, try freewriting, which is simply nonstop writing. Set aside ten minutes or so every day and write whatever comes to you. Don't edit it until the next time. Eventually all these ideas will add up. Don't rush the process, novel writing is not a race.

How should your reader feel? Sit down and close your eyes and picture that you are watching your novel as if you were in a theatre. An action scene is unfolding... see it in the middle of the screen and then look around outside the focus of the event. A car is racing out of control. Stop the film, what is happening around the street in the middle of the city where the car flies through; how important is what they're doing to the plot of the racing car?

Remember, without a strong plot, realistic character development and a solid POV (point of view: is the story told in 1st person, 2nd person or third person point of views?) then all you have... is a racing car through a city. The moment was exciting but it was still just a moment. I use cards to layout my plots and from that I decide what characters I will need (more cards), attached to them, I decide their needs, appearances, purpose (more cards), then setting and story-line, genre, size etc. all using cards.

Publicists today want novels that will sell, sell, sell. You need an agent first, also tough to get but necessary. I've gone through six. Be fussy with whom you release your book to.

By the time the publisher gets the novel, the agent has already sold it to them. The agent wants you to include a synopses and possibly a few chapters. You should follow submission guidelines of each agency to the letter. Yes, it is possible to skip the agent and go straight to publisher but it's becoming more and more rare now for a publisher to receive unsolicited manuscripts.

Pointers:

Primary character(s) - make them realistic, even if the genre is Sci Fi, where reality seldom is as it is in our realm.

Secondary character(s) - make sure they compliment the primary characters but don't go overboard with too many and end up losing your readers.

Plot - You need to know where the story is going to end before you can start. You also need to research, and understand what your genre means.

POV - who's telling the story? is it a narrative?

Set aside time each day at the same time to write and have fun!

Regards,

J.L.

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J.L. Slipak

Expertise

Novel writing is my specialty but I've several articles advocating for human rights and the rights of special needs. I've also written children stories, historical romance, fantasy, trilogies, and non-fiction. I have editorial experience and have worked with literary agents, self-publishing, publishing companies in both the United States and Canada. I imagine I can answer any questions asked about this field, and if not, can direct the question to someone who could.

Experience

six articles, two novels, three children's books, two triologies and currently working on an auto-biography

Education/Credentials
BFA, working towards my masters

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