Jack's bored. I'm kinda bored. Actually I'm tired because... well, you guys know why. I'm going to quit talking about how I don't sleep. It's boring. Next I'll be analyzing my dreams online and wondering why no one reads me anymore. (No offence to those of you who do that - I'm sure they're fascintating!)
I entered a contest.
No, not that contest.
Oh, you don't know about that contest? See, Jack and I have this sort of thing going with orgasms. It's all about quantity, not quality. Like, you don't get two points for earthshattering. You don't even get extra for having a partner. But I should get points for multiples. I know it's not fair that guys can't have multiples, but hey, who am I? God? No. I didn't plan it that way. Don't blame the messenger.
I don't know how long the orgasm contest will run. Probably until one or the other of us gets bored. Not with the orgasms, you understand, but with the contest.
No, the contest I refer to is a writer's contest for novels. I've entered one book so far. Mailed the little bastard off yesterday. (More on the reason for this hostility in a bit.) I'm working on Taming the Tiger - that one I've got online. My best work to date, though I think somehow the fourth book will be really good -once I get all the disparities to link up. My fifth book (unrelated to the series) looks good too. But I love the second: Taming the Tiger. I literally bled that book out through my fingertips. I can't imagine another more excrutiating experience that led to something so good. Ok, well except for pregnancy.
That's actually exactly what it was. Writing that book was a third fucking pregnancy. The dreams, the nausea, the pressure, the carpal tunnel symptoms... all of it.
But then I ended up with something I like pretty damn well.
But I digress.
This contest is psycho with the rules. I know they have to have disqualifiers, and worthwhile regulations they are, too. They're going all major publishing house editor on our asses in order to put us through our paces, and that's some good fun to be had. And yes, yes, it's been a good exercise for me to work within such tight constraints...
Whatev.** I worked approximately forty - fifty hours to prepare my submission (the weaker of my two submissions you understand. I get to do this all over again next week). (And yeah, that's where I've been.) It was a lot of work, but also a learning process which hopefully I've refined into something resembling efficiency.
The submission consists of:
1. One up-to twenty page excerpt -
the beginning of the book. Did I say twenty one? No. Then I don't mean twenty-one, do I? Well, tell that to my fucking excerpt. It sure as hell didn't listen to me. It was like fitting your fat Aunt Mabel into a girdle the day after Thanksgiving. And, by the way, she had leftovers for breakfast.
New Courier font. 12 pt, down to the number of characters per inch. Speaking of an inch - at least one inch margins all round. Not seven-eighths. Measure if you have to. There can be 23, 24, OR 25 lines per page, but it can't be mixed. It can't be 24 AND 25. If you go 24, stick with 24. One page with 25 will disqualify your entry.
One will pay dearly for typos, so proofread until your eyes bleed.
2. One eight page synopsis -
All of the above applies, but that's not the hard part. Just try to fit a five hundred page book into eight. Forget Aunt Mabel. This is camel-through-an-eye-of-a-needle shit. The synopsis is easily the most notorious aspect of writing and attempting publishing. Written well, it proves your plot's plausibility and the validates your character's actions and motivations. It's a marketing tool - It will make an editor want to invest in the time to read your book, even though you reveal all the secrets.
Oh, and did I mention eight pages is a long synopsis? Most editors want about two.
I actually kinda like doing it. I usually get into writing a book and at some point I write a vague synopsis. Do I stick with it? Not usually. But it gives me a staff to lean on when the path gets rocky. I've said before I'm not a plotter. I usually have a situation; a couple of sketchy characters to play with, and some idea of where I want them to end up. The rest of it I find out when I write the book. Well, as I've said before, the rough draft is for finding out what happened. Revising is for finding out why it happened. The synopsis touches on both.
The funny thing is, I can recognise books that were written in this way, and I usually have always liked them. Before I started writing again, I never analyzed why I liked them. Now I know.
But back to contests.
I never win them. I've never won a race, or a door prize, or even so much as a round of bingo before. Ok, well, of course I'm a shoe-in for the little front-n-center I've got going with Jack. An eighteen year old boy (and I mean boy as a compliment) is no match for a chick in her thirties. (I shit you not. We keep saying it to you guys who can't get laidcoughcoughkrypto: go find a horny chick in her thirties. She'll outpace you three to one.) So, with my poor history at contest winning, (as in no history) for the purposes of this writing contest I went ahead and paid extra to get the written critique. Yup, you heard me right. Here's an extra twenty-five bucks. Now, please slam my work all to hell.
I had my neighbor read my excerpt (she's a reader, but she's not read my work before). She had a couple of helpful things to say. I asked her if she would read my synopsis, and she hesitated.
"But then I'd find out what happened before I read the book. And I do get to read the rest of the book right? I mean, I have to know what happens now." She was actually excited to get my only printed copy of the first book: five hundred pages of dog-eared, wrinkled, heavily scribbled-upon manuscript. It was my presubmission copy.
Come to think of it, everyone who's read it likes it pretty well.
So, now, goddamnit, I've got a nagging hope that I might at least get fifth runner-up or something.
But contests are meant to be like hell, aren't they?
abandon hope all ye who enter here
*Oh, by now you'll be wondering about the title. I'm tanning now, and I've got PHF convinced to do it too. Heh heh.
**stolen shamelessly from Feed. Read Feed.