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15 Ways to Avoid Rejections
with Gail Martini
Verla: For those who are new to our Topic Chats/Workshops, once it starts (in just a few minutes) we will not say hello or goodby to anyone...all personal chat will be held until the hour is up...but PLEASE feel free to join in the topic discussion and give your comments and questions to everyone
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to 15 Ways to Avoid Rejection ...workshop now in session
Verla: Okay, Gail...You are ON!
Gail: I am Gail Martini-Peterson, retired teacher of English, social studies, and anything else they asked me to do.
Verla: We are ready to start. Gail...want to tell us briefly about yourself? And then get going?
Gail: This workshop is built on an article from THE WRITER magazine, March 1997, Fifteen Ways to Avoid Rejection by Jean Raymond Maljean.
Verla: (Oh. You already DID.)
Gail: What it really tells is 15 things all good writers do. If you do them all, your chances of being accepted are increased.
Gail: We all do these things, or most of them, but this is a review. There is nothing very new here.
Verla: Just reminders of how to better our chances of getting accepted, eh, Gail?
Gail: Right, Verla.
Gail: Some of these points may be more suitable to a novel than to, say, a picture book. You need to decide what applies for yourself.
Gail: Feel free to jump in at any time with your additions. I am copying the text from the notebook, so sometimes I get distracted.
Gail: If I don't respond to a question, ask me again
Verla: Okay...so what Gail is saying, is to be SURE to add your own comments and questions. These workshops work best when we ALL participate.
Gail: 1. CHARACTERS: The protagonist must not be boring. Early on reveal interests, goals, fears, beliefs, and necessary family history.
Gail: Reveal these characteristics by involving the character in small conflicts. Work the age and description into the narrative.
LailaK: Will you be listing those 15 ways now?
Gail: Number one is already started. Characters.
Gail: Cut out any characters that do not move the plot forward.
Gail: 2. SETTING: Weave descriptions of surroundings into the narrative.
Gail: 3. ACTION: Hook your reader with action in the first paragraph, and then return to catch up on the details of the story.
Gail: 4. CONFLICT: Do not write a synopsis. Build the story with scenes that intensify the plot
Gail: Each crisis leads to another crisis. There must be conflict with many skirmishes.
Gail: Your character must never just suddenly "realize the solution."
Gail: Change must come from collision and alter the protagonist in a convincing way. But don't tell. Let the reader draw conclusions from the story.
whatever thinks it might be slightly more accurate to say: #4: do not call the synopsis your finished product... some writers find synopses very helpful.
A-Suen: I find them VERY helpful!
Gail: That seems right to me, what.
Gail: Here we are talking about the finished product, ready to send to the publisher. It is a sort of checklist.
A-Suen: so far, so good
Gail: Prepare the reader for any shocks by foreshadowing, hinting at, what is to come. This makes the shock natural.
Verla: I'm not sure I understand that last one about the synopsis, Gail...are you saying to never use one?
Gail: End every chapter with a page turner, a crisis unresolved, something to keep the reader reading.
A-Suen: some people use their synopsis AS their plot, Verla
Gail: Your finished product should not be a synopsis.
Verla: Hmmm. In other words, make the editor or reader feel like they cannot put the book down until they find out what is going to happen next.
Verla: Oh...I see, Okay. Thanks, Gail
Katej: not every page turner is a crisis
Verla: (And A-Suen, thank you, too...)
Suzy-Q: It could be new unforseen information.
LailaK: I think the use of synopsis depends very much on the writer. but when submitting, publishers/agents/etidors would want a synopsis.
Katej: I'm still confused about this idea of synopsis'
Verla: Yes, can we slow down and spend a minute or two on the synopsis idea, Gail?
Katej: do you mean, write out a story? as opposed to a synopsis? huh?
_MS_SASE: A synopsis tells the plot, a story lives the plot
A-Suen: a synopsis is a SHORT telling of the story - you write it out like a summary.
dorii: I understood Gail to mean: Show, not tell (as in a synopsis)
MScott: Mabye I'm wrong here--and please, someone correct me if I am--but I think Gail is saying "don't write your story like you would a snyopsis
Gail: Kate. Your story is not a synopsis. It is a series of scenes and confilicts that build the story.
Verla: Oh...that's a GOOD way to put it, SASE!
Suzy-Q: I think what Gail is saying is your book shouldn't read like a synopsis.
Gail: SQ has it.
Katej: oh, you mean a synopsis tells? and a story ( a good one) shows?
A-Suen: yes! SQ!
Verla: Ah HA! GREAT way to phrase it. NOW I get it!
Gail: Show don't tell.
LailaK: a good synopsis should not read like a summary. it's a mini version of the story.
Verla: (And I NEED to know about synopsis!)
Katej: I think the confusion comes in becaue we need to write synopses for publishers/agents
Verla: Yes, and I find that a lot harder than writing the whole book!
MScott: Aren't synopsis' those things in your brain...that (like mine) don't work...(grin)
A-Suen: it's like a book blurb - the jacket copy is NOT the book
Verla: Hah hah hah...cute, MScott!
A-Suen: You CAN change your synopsis, Verla - if your book changes
Verla: Right...but a synopsis needs to tell the WHOLE story, where a jacket blurb just hints at it....
Gail: Now you all are spliting hairs.
Verla: I do NOT have split ends on my hairs, Gail. Speak for yourself, darn it!
Gail: 5. TRANSITIONS: Between the crisis of one scene and the start of the next, allow the characters to regroup, design a strategy, or to react emotionally.
Gail: I thought this one was interesting.
Gail: So often we are so involved in what happens next, that we don't let the characters regroup.
LailaK: what do you me by regroup ? can you give an example?
dorii: It's hard to 'regroup' in a short picbook
A-Suen: stop and talk about what happened?
Gail: Let the main character think about what just happened.
MScott: Gail, can you give an example of this?
dorii: Like a reemphasis on the last action?
Gail: Let the main character think about what he/she is going to do next. Or let them cry of shout or somehow react to the preceeding crisis.
MScott: 'K...now I understand
Verla: Hmmmm. Would "regroup" be a moment of "non-tension" in the story ... calculated to allow both the characters AND the reader to "catch their breaths?"
A-Suen: so it has some significance
Gail: Right, Verla.
Katej: that sounds right, Verla
A-Suen: white space
Verla: Nice phrase, A-Suen.
A-Suen: Thanks Verla! :)
A-Suen: like in a painting, you need somewhere for your eye to rest
dorii: Like the character thinking... 'Now what am I going to do... seeing as the cat ate my last dollar!
Gail: 6. NO EXIT: Make sure your protagonist has no way out of the conflict. If there is a way out, you have no plot and no story.
Gail: If your fiction is to be successful, the main character needs to struggle to find a solution to an impossible conflict.
Gail: The problem should not be solved by anyone but the main character. Put obstacle after obstacle in the way. The character should never have an easy escape.
dorii: Yet the solution has to be plausible....
Verla: Hmmm. I think I didn't do that in my first draft....
A-Suen: you can always re-write
Verla: (Oh, I intend to, A-Suen!)
Suzy-Q: That is where re-writing comes in handy Verla..
Verla: Right, SQ. ReWriting is where the story finally takes GOOD shape
Verla: As opposed to HodgePodge shape
Gail: I know. This stuff makes you think. Did I do that?
SallyA: But can't the main character have some help from another?
Gail: Yes, some help. But if another character solves the problem, you have made a fatal error.
Verla: Right. Like if a child has a problem, you don't want the parent or a friend to solve it FOR him.
Gail: 7. VERBIAGE: Cut all extraneous words. Cut, cut and then cut again.
Gail: We all know that one well.
A-Suen: this sounds like a good diet and exercise program!
Verla: I'll be right over, A-Suen...I need that program, too!
Suzy-Q: sub character can head the main character in the right direction... but the main character makes it happen.
dorii: I always have too much verbiage
_Don: well gail the main character often shows some kind of growth mentaly and emotionly due to experiences that he or she is placed in and often it takes time for his relization or come to terms with his emotional conflict between his fundamental feliefe system and the emerging one he is forced to acknoledge. You see a growing thrue time. the time you allow for all of this is apparently what you are calling regrouping.
NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud
dorii: Say that again, Don
_Don: It will grow on you give it time.......
dorii: I think I got it now. Thanks
LailaK: what will grow on us, Don?
Verla: LOL! Don...YOU are verbose!
Gail: Sounds right to me, Don. Time to show growth and decide what to do next. Pruning adverbs and adjectives focuses the story. See another workshop I did on this subject.
dorii: Don has a lot of verbiage!
_Don: It's a comolexed idea to try to grasp.
A-Suen: a true novelist!
Gail: And if I could spell under pressure, you would see growth here, too.
Katej: Don: one word: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!
dorii: LOL, Gail
_Don: the heart and sole of mystery writing.
LailaK: God, I'm missing something or else I'm stupid!
dorii: No, Laila. You're fine
LailaK: so, dorii, what did Don say or mean to say?
Gail: 8. VERBS, ADVERBS, ADJECTIVES AND NOUNS: Blah verbs need to be changed to dynamic, action verbs. Example: Not--He was hit by a bus. Instead--A bus careened around the corner and stuck him down.
Gail: Now this is my real area of expertise.
Verla: (AH HA! Now we see why Gail loves this article! She gets to talk about the "parts" of English!)
dorii: Gail is my favorite English teacher
A-Suen: once an English teacher, always an English teacher! :)
Gail: Avoid the passive voice unless you want to put your reader to sleep. (The passive voice is any form of the *to be* verb plus the main verb. The result is that the subject is BEING acted upon.)
_Don: ok gail how do you get over that bus crash. it takes time.
_Don: It is a trama
A-Suen: Don said that characters grow though their experiences, and you use the "quiet" times in your story to reflect on those changes
Gail: What bus crash, Don? I suppose you regroup in the hospital.
Verla: The one YOU had a minute ago, Gail!
Verla: THIS bus crash: Example: Not--He was hit by a bus. Instead--A bus careened around the corner and stuck him down.
Suzy-Q: Yea in the intesive care unit.
_Don: may be not
_Don: maybe it was your mother leaving you and you must take over.
Gail: If I have been in a bus crash, I want to be in the hospital!
Verla: Hmmm. Much better choice than the morgue, Gail.
_Don: maybe your mother was in the bus crash
Verla: But I think we lost the topic, here....
Suzy-Q: Get off the wreckage and back to topic.
SallyA: Driving me crazy!
Katej: did the train derail?
Gail: The topic is the passive voice. Ask Kathy.
MScott: Sooo....what about Way No. 9?
Gail: I found that Kathy used the passive voice, but she is on to it now!
Suzy-Q: Who is Kathy?
LailaK: But some times the passive voice is unavoidable? am I right? so what do we do about it?
Suzy-Q: Will Kathy please raise her hand?
Gail: Kathy must have left.
Verla: What/Who is Kathy? HUH?
Gail: She was here a minute ago...
Verla: Oh. Okay. I see.
MScott: Yeah...I've seen lots of Children's books written in passive voice...many, in fact.
Katej: Laila, it takes time to learn how to change passive voice to active voice... but it can be done
Suzy-Q: I'm proof of that.. It takes practice...
Gail: Sometimes the passive voice is OK. All writers need to write MAINLY in the ACTIVE VOICE.
Verla: I think it's okay to use the passive voice under CERTAIN circumstances...in fact, you HAVE to use it sometimes. But a lot of times, it sneaks in and slows your story down
LailaK: Yes, Kate. I know it can be done. but sometimes we have to use it. it has its moments, I guess
MScott: Understood, verla
Verla: Gail, would you give us an example of the passive...and then we can change it to the active?
Gail: Use your grammar part of your word processing program. If it says passive voice, try like the devil to change the sentence around.
Verla: Hmmm. Like...Gail was going to give a workshop.
Verla: Instead of...Gail gave a workshop
*** kathy has joined channel #Kidlit
_MS_SASE: No, Verla...you just changed the verb tense
A-Suen: there she is
Verla: AH HA! THERE is Kathy!
Gail: See, here is Kathy!
_MS_SASE: The workshop was given by Gail....that is passive voice
Verla: We missed you, Kathy.
LailaK: I think it's a workshop was given by Gail. you change it to gail gave a workshop.
Katej: good, SASE
Verla: Ah ha....thanks Laila & SASE
_Enchanted: The workshop was returned to by Kathy.
*** kathy has left channel #Kidlit
Gail: Very good Enchanted!
Verla: Kathy LEFT again!
Gail: But we have scared Kathy off.
Gail: Show, don't tell. Not--"Get out of here," he shouted angrily. Instead--He slammed his briefcase on the table. "Get out of here!"
_Enchanted: You can usually find "by" right after the verb in passive. Kathy was scared off by the workshop.
MScott: Or...the workshop scared kathy off...
_Don: Am, is, was,
_Enchanted: Nope == the workshop is doing the action. Active voice
Verla: Ah ha. Instead of..Kathy was scared and left the workshop
_Don: I am scared off
_MS_SASE: That is active voice, MScott, just an odd actor
_Don: was scared off
_Don: is scared off
A-Suen: is, am , was ,was, were, have , been , very , Many - all words we were told NOT to use in our senior year at high school
Verla: lol! I think we are all nuts!
Gail: The to be verbs--is, am, are, was, were, been, be , being
Marianne: How about, We scared Kathy off?
LailaK: Kathy was scared...though it's active voice, the sentence needs revision, I think.
_MS_SASE: Kathy was scared and left the workshop is passive in the first verb and active in the second
Verla: How about if we try to NOT scare any more of our attendees off?
_Enchanted: We were all made nuts by the workshop........
Gail: Hey, passive voice is a really big thing.
LailaK: How did we scare Kathy off?
Katej: it sure is
_Don: that's right Gail
Verla: I find my sentences in the passive all the time and have to rewrite them.
Gail: Ok, show don't tell.
_Don: Think active and you will write active
Verla: I'm good at Show, Don't Tell!
Gail: Make your words specific. Not--He stood under a tree. Instead--He stood under the willow tree.
_Don: practice it.
Verla: He glowered under the weeping willow tree.
Gail: I feel I am not here.
Verla: You are here, Gail!
Suzy-Q: You are here Gail!
Verla: (Hey! Twinsies, SQ! We said the SAME thing!)
_Enchanted: so what number are we up to?
Verla: Yes...what number are we on, Gail?
Katej: Gail, has the topic gotten away from you?
MScott: Number 9, I believe
Verla: Our time is two thirds gone...are we on schedule?
Gail: Watch your tenses. Not--He was running to the bank. Instead--He ran to the bank. Unless something happened to him WHILE he was running to the bank.
_Don: He stood under a weeping willow tree and his tears began flowing like the stream flowing by them.
Gail: Is your screen behind what you type? Mine is.
Verla: Hmmm. So it's okay to say He was running to the bank when a bus ran over him.
_Don: depends on who is doing the speaking and if it was during a quiet time.
Suzy-Q: He stood tranfixed under the weeping willow, tears streamed down his face, flowing faster than the swift river flowed.
_Don: nice revision Suzy-Q
Gail: SENTENCES AND PARAGRAPHS: Try to vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs. Even add a one word sentence.
Verla: Ah ha. Too many sentences of the same length get boring?
Gail: Make sure you don't always write subject/verb/object. Begin some sentences with clauses, adverbs, or prepositional phrases.
_Don: that shows transformation
_Don: a growing through something.
Verla: To add variety to the manuscript, right, Gail?
Gail: Long paragraphs can put your reader to sleep. A series of short ones are annoying. Right, Verla.
_Don: and it is active it is happening right before your eyes
Gail: In an action filled patch, begin with a long paragraph, and progressively make them shorter as the conflict escalates.
Verla: But if it is a very tense moment, Gail, then short, clipped sentences make for a more dramatic moment
A-Suen: you vary the rhythm when you vary the sentence length
Verla: RIGHT, Gail!
Gail: 10. BE SPECIFIC: Don't just tell the story. Make it alive with images. Not--She remembered how kind her father was, how much fun he was.
A-Suen: every picture tells a story
Gail: Instead--She remembered how she used to stand at the window, waiting for her father to come home from work.
Gail: There would always be a surprise, a candy, a toy, or a joke. Then he would dance her around the room or carry her on his back through the house.
dorii: Nice, Gail
Gail: (Note there are no adjectives or adverbs in that description.)
Verla: Hmmm So, you need to SHOW that....like...She thought about her father, how he used to swing her up on his shoulders and their laughter would ring until mother called to them to stop.
_Don: well I think in frames of images and they move in my mind at varing speeds.
_Don: some times fast. some times slow
Gail: Don't just mention activities. Describe them. Not--He performed his repertoire of magic tricks.
_MS_SASE: Oh no...I have to say it...."always" is an adverb
_Don: a wing shot is trying to freeze a fast moving scene before it escapes your consus mind.
Gail: Make your story more vivid by using figures of speech--similes, metaphors, hyperbole, alliteration, understatement, onomatopoeia, etc.
Gail: I think the writer is speaking about descriptive adverbs. The, a, an, etc all fall into the adjective came.
Gail: But don't use clichés. Make up your own metaphors.
_Don: good Gail I like that.
Verla: hmmm. I know what metaphors and similes and alliteration and understatements are, Gail...but I have NO idea what hyperbole and onomatopoeia are! You need to do another workshop to explain those!
Gail: hyperbole is exaggeration. See my previous workshop.
A-Suen: onomatopoeia = pop! bang! Whiz
A-Suen: words that make sounds
Verla: Oh! Thanks, A-Suen
Gail: onomatopeia is the sound things make---swish, grunt, hump!
LailaK: thanks. That's a new one for me, too
Gail: 11. COINCIDENCE: In real life, there are frequent coincidences. But not in fiction. Readers feel uncomfortable with coincidences as they see the hand of the author.
_Don: That's it Gail.
Gail: 12. THOUGHTS: Reveal your protagonist's thoughts that help him arrive at solutions. *He wondered if she discovered the gun in his drawer.*
Gail: So did I.
Gail: 13. DIALOGUE: Dense paragraphs drive readers away. Dialogue distracts the eye. Make each spoken line short with a meter like ping pong.
Gail: Attribution: He said, asked, or answered. All three are invisible with said being the most invisible.
A-Suen: white space for the eye, too!
Gail: He remarked, uttered, affirmed, replied, etc. makes the reader conscious of the author.
Gail: Much of the time, you don't even need said. The speaker is obvious.
Katej: right, Gail.
Gail: 14. USE THE SENSES: Taste--Bring out the aroma, temperature, and festive colors of food.
Gail: Smell--Good and bad. Sprinkle in odors, aromas, and scents. The seaside, the church, the classroom...This puts your reader in the scene.
A-Suen: I love to tell kids this when I teach writing - smell it, taste it!
Gail: Temperature-- An August day of oppressive heat or a bone-cold night in February.
A-Suen: It makes them think!
Gail: Sound--The bells of the cathedral, the foghorns in the bay, the horn blasts of cars, and the din of voices in a restaurant.
Gail: Touch--Make your readers imagine their fingers digging in the soil, holding a chicken leg, or squeezing a baby's cheek.
A-Suen: it sets atmosphere, too
Gail: You got that right!
Gail: Sight--What does your main character see? The four-poster bed in the bedroom, the boss's tie, the flickering fluorescent light, or the overflowing garbage can.
Gail: 15. LAST MINUTE CHECKLIST: Did you double space? Indent each paragraph? Keep the original?
A-Suen: Marion Dane Bauer said you should be inside the head of your main character when you write the story
Gail: Type your name, address, and phone number on the upper left and page count on the upper right of the first page?
A-Suen: it helps you stay true to the story problem
Gail: Type the title and author's name about half way down? Did you type your abbreviated title and author's name to the left of the page number on each page?
Gail: Did you get rid of that dot matrix printer in favor of an easier to read ink jet or laser printer?
Gail: And did you include an SASE?
NOTE: THIS SASE refers to a Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope, and not the person, _MS_SASE
Gail: Now you can send your story out!!!
Gail: The end!
MScott: Good work,
_Don: very nice Gail
Suzy-Q sends confetti into the air...
Gail: If you do all these things, you can avoid most rejection!
Suzy-Q shoots the room with silly string.
Marianne: Great learning experience, Gail!
_Enchanted: Well done and researched!
A-Suen: good job, gail
LailaK: Good job, Gail. do you think something is missing? I mean i do all that and still get rejections. personal ones, true., but still rejections.
Gail: Remember, these points come from an article in Writer Magazine.
Suzy-Q: Great job, Gail.
A-Suen: personal rejections means you're getting closer, Laila
Verla: yes..Laila, if you are getting PERSONAL rejections, then that means your writing IS good enough to publish...or very nearly so...and you just need to find the RIGHT publisher at the RIGHT time.
Gail: No, it means you are publishable. Now you need to find the right fit, Laila.
Suzy-Q hands Gail one of her world famous gourmet caramel apples.
Gail: Hey, some editors have bad hair days. What can we do about that?
_Don: Thanks Gail
Gail: Of course, Kate never has a bad hair day!
LailaK: Thanks, Gail. This workshop was great.
dorii: Thanks, Gail. Wonderful job, as always
Gail: Thanks you all for coming!
Suzy-Q: Wouldn't have missed it for the world, Gail
_Don: actually If you practice doing all those things Gail talked about you are on your way to becoming a writer.
Katej: so true ...
_Don: Practice makes you a good one.
Gail: Kate is an editor. But she is a good one, so she never has a bad hair day. Follow, Kate?
Katej: thanks, Gail.
_Don: and put together with a dimimite subject. makes you a great one.
Verla: GREAT workshop, Gail! THANK YOU!
Gail: We can't see you, Kate, so your hair doesn't matter.
Verla: Boy, you packed a lot of info in that one hour....
_Don: You can never get into publisher's minds becouse the wallets are involved.
_MS_SASE: Thanks for all your work and preparation, Gail
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