May 20th, 2006

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The submission process

Spent some time this morning Googling for details on a few more publishers. The novel will be going out again on Monday, but I wanted another publisher in hand in case of rejection. Another one will take unsolicited submissions, that is.

Not very easy to find.

However, I have one now and so can send the novel out into the cruel heartless world again on Monday, knowing that should it return unsucessful, I can turn it straight round without having to find a new potential home whilst under the influence of a rejection slip.

I'm still thinking about agents. I'm not going to rush this time. I've had two agents before (not simultaneously, you understand, about 10 years apart) and neither worked out long term. Not that there was anything wrong with either agent, it was just that the book they were trying to place didn't quite make it. Both then decided to shed their new and unpublished authors because in the first instance the agent had an unexpected family drama to cope with and in the second instance, his doctor had warned him he was doing too much and needed to slow down.

Worried now that I should call myself llygoden Doom of Agents. Should I warn any agents about my track record?

Ooops! Probably shouldn't have mentioned it here as agents might see it. *g*

Will try to talk to published author friends at WisCon about what to look for in an agent. I'm thinking that youth (yet combined with experience, naturally!), good health and an absence of estranged siblings would be a good starting point.
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Pre-writing and novel planning

The following is an expanded version of my response to a comment by zornhau in this thread over in khiemtran's LJ.

If I outline in too much detail I have two problems:

a) My subconscious brain is much better at plotting than my conscious -- which runs to boring and predictable because it works logically. But my subconscious brain works slowly and therefore only feeds me plot in dollops.

b) I totally lose the urge to write the novel properly if the outline is a complete but condensed form of the story. Hence my planning tools of spreadsheet and circular diagram, plus scrappy notes on Post-It notes. However much I actually write down, my brain knows that what it's looking at cannot be called a story and could not be given to a reader to read. So the thing still has to be written out in full.

Basically I have a skeleton of the overall structure: hook, complication, key turning points and ending. This is done in the mind mapping software, along with character notes. Chapter by chapter notes are done on the spreadsheet to generate the circular diagram, but filled in as the book progresses. In other words I do rolling planning so each chapter is planned shortly before it's written, not planned up front. But it is planned, so I don't end up writing irrelevant stuff, though occasionally stuff has to be added if I realise that a section is lacking in detail. Like when I added the scene where the Earth Mages sing the stones into the matrix in Moving a Mountain.
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Worldbuilding? What's that?

I am not a writer who loves world building. I tend to do it on the fly and it's probably my weakest point. It's probably no coincidence that my best stories are based on real settings, just tweaked slightly.

I also tend to make things up as I go along. I know that some people like to work out all the details of the culture and history and geography etc upfront, but as I said in my previous post, my conscious mind is far too dull and comes up with boring and logical stuff. Also how do I know what I need to know until I get to the relevant part of the story?

Anyway, I try to leave as much as possible to the unconscious. So it's just a matter of feeding it a nutritious diet and letting it get on with it.

The other advantage of doing the world building as you go along is that useful stuff just pops up.

on rec.arts.sf.composition Nicola Browne wrote:

I tend to world build and write at the same time to begin with and then do additional research if necessary. The odd thing is when I'm wanting detail the radio, tv and newspapers suddenly seem full of relevant stuff.

It's uncanny, but I find that happens too.