Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beware NaQuRejMo!

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Me too! Technically, I didn’t finish, though I suppose I could have counted my blog posts and other writings (do emails count?) to make up that last five thousand words. But to me, the point was less about getting that little badge than making headway on a manuscript, which I managed to do.
I love getting Chris Baty’s little nudges and encouragements in my email. And his follow-up email was interesting too – it contained a link to this blog by literary agent Mary Kole. In it, she laments that December’s become known, for some agents, as NaQuRejMo, or National Query Rejection Month. Why? Too many authors so excited about completing a first draft, they immediately submit their work. (And if you do, don’t mention it in the query, as it’ll immediately be tossed in the slush pile.)
Ms. Kole has some great advice: submit your work to your critique partners first, and keep revising. Setting the manuscript aside for a bit, as she suggests, gives you some much-needed perspective, after which you should revise again.
Besides revising to bring out themes and enhance the framework, also be sure to self-edit. Many authors, myself included, post valuable information on how to polish your work to be its best, from making that first line a grabber to eliminating duplicate words and strengthening verbs. Yes, it’s tedious work, but well worth it to make your story an even better read.
So I’m in the middle of doing just that with my NaNoWriMo project, a historical novel. I’ve reviewed and revised it a few times. A few critique partners will continue to review it. I may enter it into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, if it’s ready (or the first ten thousand words are, at least) by January 25.
I’m also revising a novel I’d set aside a few years ago after submitting to an agent, who rejected it. While searching for some old notes, I came across the rejection letter. Actually the agent was very encouraging, and gave me some sound advice about revision. At the time, all I saw was the “sorry” part, but now I realize I should have gotten back to work on it and sent it back. But time’s lent better perspective, and I’m better able to see the story in its full scope now than I was a few years ago. So after I finish revising, I’ll send it back to the agent. But not until after December. :)


Emma Lai said...

Can't put my finger on it, but for some reason I found this post encouraging. I've been feeling a little discouraged? overwhelmed? Not sure which or maybe both. Thanks for improving my mood!

Cate Masters said...

I bet it's because you already do the necessary revisions and critiques before submitting! Glad I perked up your day, Emma. Hang in there! Sometimes it's overwhelming, but it's all worthwhile.