Monday, 27 August 2012

Structure is your Friend

With apologies to Carol King:

When your manuscript is down and troubled,
and the plot needs a helping hand,
and nothing, nothing is going right.
Think of acts in groups of threes,
and soon it will be there
to brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call structure's name
And you know, wherever you are,
structure will be there,
yeah, yeah,
structure's your friend . . .

Structure is your friend:

The Friday workshop at this year's RWA workshop was incredible. Screenwriter and novelist Alexander Sokoloff showed us how to embrace screenwriting tricks to help create novels that really satisfy readers.

I've long been a fan of structure. Structure is my friend. And when a manuscript isn't going right, I look to structure to see where it's going wrong, and how to fix it.

Some people run a mile from structure, believing it will force them into some kind of creative straightjacket. But for me, structure is the backbone of my novels. Structure makes me work incredibly hard so that the reader has a thoroughly satisfying experience.

Do yourself a favour and buy Alexandra's book. It's only $2.99 and it's incredibly practical and entertaining. Her favourite works run towards the dark and outright creepy, so I probably won't be buying her fiction. But I admire her tenacity and talent. And then later, when I'm ready to be scared out of my skin, I might take a peek at one of her novels.

I had a pitch with an agent Friday morning, and would you believe, I was really nervous!
I had my pitch written on an index card, in bullet-point form.
I tried very hard not to look at my notes because I'm there to chat about my book, not deliver a non-stop speech outlining every major turning point.
I explained what the book was about, who it was aimed at and how long it was.
I spoke a little about the main girl and what her issues were and what she wanted.
I then spoke a little about the main boy and what his issues were and what he wanted.

Thanks Jennifer Bachman
for taking this pic.
Things developed nicely between the agent and moi, and she asked for the first three chapters. Yay.

A pitch is usually a five minute session, one on one, with an editor or agent.
An agent might see up to 20 pitches in an hour, so you want your pitch to be memorable for all the right reasons. I think I'll have to post separately, because it's a topic worth expanding.

Book Signing:
This was awesome. I took postcards, extra books and George the Ferret with me for some fun.
Because the hero of my ONDINE novels is a ferret, (his name is Hamish, not George, in case you wondered). I took some books up with me to sell on the night, and . . . I'm one of these shameless authors who doesn't mind selling her own product. You know why? Becasue I know they are a heap of fun. When people asked me, "what's this about?" I'd say, "It's about a teenage girl whose pet ferret starts talking ... with a Scottish accent." When people laughed at that, they were pretty much sold. If they asked me to repeat it, and then didn't know what a ferret was, I merely gave them a postcard and told them the Harlequin authors had free books down that way.

I had THE BEST TIME. Thank you ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) for organising this.

Cocktail Party:
No pictures exist of me at the Cocktail Party. (yeah, right!) I stayed away from the cameras and enjoyed the champagne and incredible finger food (not made of fingers, I promise). On the night, Harlequin announced a new, Digital first imprint and ALSO announced that their YA line, Harlequin Teen would begin taking unagented pitches/submissions. This is an incredible opportunity as previously they only accepted submission from agents. They haven't changed the guidelines on their website yet, so either I heard it wrong or they haven't caught up to their own news.
Again, another strong feeling that publishing is tilting towards the author's favour.

Phew! And that's a Friday wrap!


PrincessFiona01 said...

Ah yes the tricky ferret that looked real in the aeroplane pic. Say hello to George for me.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Too Easy Fiona. George had the best time. Must put some pics of him here on the blog. :-D