You have questions. Ask away.

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your humble host

This blog has long been a friendly place to come and learn, and what better way to learn than to ask?

You have questions. Writer stuff, marketing, motivation, you name it.

ASK ME

Your questions. Your challenges. Your issues.

If I don’t know, we’ll put it out to my vast network of author friends and get an answer. Or I’ll make something up.

 

Many people helped me when I was starting out because I was willing to ask what I needed to know.

That shortened my learning curve substantially.

– Dan Alatorre

So go ahead. Ask me anything.

8 thoughts on “You have questions. Ask away.

    • Write what you need to write, and then let other people see it. A good way to do that is through a critique group. Having 4-5, possibly up to 12 other people read something, if three or four of them point out the same problem, it needs to be addressed. After a while, you will start to see what it is you’re doing wrong and you intuitively look to avoid the mistake with new stuff that you write. Practice makes perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have a question that’s been driving me crazy and I’m hoping someone out there might have some advice.
    I had a full manuscript request from an agent on 25th May, which was one of the happiest days of my life!
    I replied to the email attaching the full manuscript but haven’t heard back since.
    I did send a follow up email a month later in case the previous email had gone back into her slush pile.
    She took 2 months to reply to the original query, but I’ve heard nothing since the original contact on 25th May.
    Should I chase again or forget it ever happened?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would do several things here.

      First of all, I would go ahead and tell people the name of the publisher and the actual agent or representative. Odds are, somebody has heard something about them. I would do a Google search to find out if there are complaints about them. But either way, if somebody asked for my manuscript, I would expect to be let know whether or not they received it! That, I would follow up on.

      Traditional publishers move at a glacially slow pace but there’s nothing wrong with telling somebody you got the information they sent you. There’s nothing wrong with trying to confirm that what you sent was received. There’s just been professional. For them not to reply after 60 days is ridiculous in any business. But thats one of the reasons why traditional publishers get a bad name.

      Look for the prior correspondence and see if there’s anything that indicates the date by which they will be following up with you. That date has come and gone, or if it does not exist, you were well within your expectations to follow up to find out what’s going on. It’s a business, after all. They need to let you know what’s happening.

      The sad fact is, nothing is probably happening. The person you sent it to probably doesn’t work there anymore and it’s a dropped by the wayside. Try to find a manager or higher up to contact and find out, but that would be my guess.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Dan. It’s great to talk it through with you.
        I will send another email today and chase it up. She didn’t indicate when I could expect to get a reply and there is no information on the agency website to state how long to wait before chasing up a ms request.
        She is a very busy agent going to many writing festivals in the UK and I’ve seen on twitter that she has signed a new writer in the last few weeks, so she is still at the agency.
        I know it is probably a no, but its nice to live with the dream of what could be.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dan,
    My question is related to a previous post about “showing and not telling”. I’ve noticed that some of the authors I read (Best Sellers) will use a telling word (i.e. angry, defensive, etc.) and also include some physical (showing) adjectives with the same sentence, paragraph. Is this considered an acceptable way or is it because of their notoriety they can get by with it? Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s always the debate. Stephen King says don’t use adverbs. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs,” etc – and then we see a TON of them in his writing. JK Rowling uses so many filters in the Harry Potter stories! Is that because they are so famous they can get away with it, or are we over-interpreting what King said about adverbs, or their stories are so strong readers overlook those minor issues, or what? Probably a little of each.

      My advice is this:

      First, a good story will hide a lot of sins. A fast pace and lots of interesting things happening will always be a plus. So write the best story you can, and make the pace fast and fill it with interesting stuff.

      But in order to get to King/Rowling level, the rest of us may have to play by a set of stricter rules. So I use as few adverbs as I can, and I avoid filters and cliches and dialogue tags, and that’s what I recommend. Those building blocks make your story better to the vast majority of readers, even if the reader couldn’t articulate why it’s better. However, the story also needs to feel right to you. Where you strike the balance is, you find a few critique partners whose writing is good and whose input you trust, and you show your stuff to them. If three out of five of them say you need to change the wording somewhere, you probably need to change it.

      The issue is when a story is ALL tell, or mostly tell. It’s simply not as engaging to a reader. It’s the difference between seeing a great movie and a friend talking about the great movie they say.

      When a story is more show, it’s more immersing to a reader – as long as the writer has the sense to cut things that are dull and occasionally jump over a long part where not a lot happens. How do you learn to do that? You again trust your critique partners until you have a feel for it yourself. That may take a few years or you may never develop it, so a valued critique partner makes all the difference.

      But it starts with a great story that has lots of interesting stuff happening and moves at a good pace. No amount of adverb deletion will save a boring story.

      If you figure, well, I’ll just write brilliant stuff and the rest will get overlooked, you’re wrong. The agents and editors want it as polished as possible, and so do a lot of readers if you self pub. So to get to King the deference King gets, you have to get to King’s level, and getting there requires following rules he may not have to follow anymore.

      Like

      • Wow! What a reply and great advice. If I had to summarize, I would quote most parents, “Do as I say and not as I do.”
        I’ve made this statement before, I’m a novice writer and I have so much to learn. Since I’m a retired CPA, I have time to explore and learn. One of many of my faults, is I take this to the same level of detail as I did as an accountant. This is a hobby to keep my mind stimulated as I age. I enjoy my writing and it would be fun to be recognized as good. However, I need to accept it takes years to obtain a level of perfection. So I learn from you and others that I follow and enjoy the stimulation. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

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