Saturday, January 16, 2010

The "HUH?" Factor in the Writing Game

I’ve been amazed lately at the sheer volume of “gray” material in business that is supposed to be so black and white. Writers have it engrained in their minds that you do A correctly and without blemish to get to B, and should you dare to break the rules, you’re going downtown to Chinatown! But after time, most people realize how contradictory the rules, the advice, the path, etc. really are.

Some writer's blogs are filled with nothing but do’s and don’ts. They are kinda the publishing world’s code of ethics enforcers. And sometimes that can be good and sometimes it can be bad. So, you read a blog about how your online persona must be squeaky clean. Don’t dis other authors, don’t rant about the negatives of a book you disliked, and if you do, woe be unto you and your book! So, you vow then and there to never say a negative again. Then not five minutes later you get on twitter where pubbed authors are dissing genres of books, themes that have been overdone, etc. Part of you wants to put on your best sing-song voice and say, “Somebody’s in trouble!” But then the rational side goes, “Well, if they’re doing it without fear or persecution, who’s to say I can’t?

Please don’t infer from this that I’m saying to go put on your “______author Sux!” t-shirt and burn a book or something. I’m just trying to grasp what is right and what is wrong. You have to understand that in my personal life, I’ve always been a rule follower. I mean, we’re talking a serious Goody-Two shoes! Part of it was how I was raised and the other came from the fact I am a strong person of faith. So, it’s a big step for me to even be sitting here questioning “authority” so to speak. But here’s some other things that have come up lately.

How many times in YA Literature especially do we hear word count harped on? There seems to be a Goldilocks mentality of not too short and most certainly not too long. You have to find a “just right”. But then lately YA’s over 100K(a heinous no no!) have received a multi-book pub deal and become agented. So what gives? Is there a word count manifesto or not? What would have happened to these two authors had they constantly listened to the finger wagers of the world? Who’s to say?

When I was first querying my YAUF, I read an agent’s blog that gave critiques. One query she praised and even requested was written IN FIRST PERSON AS THE CHARCTER(insert shriek of horror) Yes, the ultimate cardinal sin of querying had not only been committed, but it had been SUCCESSFUL! So, are there query rules or not?

Some agents don’t want you posting teasers on your blog; some do.

Some agents don’t want you to post chapter snips on blogs or websites; some don’t mind if you have them.

One blog tells you not to trash talk authors; another blog has a quite humorous comic of writers.

In one breath several people will share their pub rejections somewhat anonymously while two posts down people will voice the negatives and potential career suicide for doing this.

Some agents caution their clients not to mention the sub process at all in blogs or online forums. However, some agents don’t mention it or caution against it.

I guess this blog is to serve as a cautionary tale. Sure, read up on advice on blogs and forums, but never take it as the 100% gospel truth because it isn’t. Author A might tell you this while Author B might say something completely different. Both of them got to where they are today, so somewhere along the way BOTH methods work.

So, at the end of the day, I, myself, will be following a quote from the movie Elizabeth I, “I promise to act as my conscience dictates”, which is really all any of us can do.


Laura McMeeking said...

This just summed everything up so nicely!! Thanks, Krista!

Emilia Joyce Plater said...

Good thoughts (: There is a gray area. Sometimes, it's just about what feels right.

Anonymous said...

Nice post! :)

Many agents and editors have stressed that many of the publishing industry guidelines are just that: guidelines, not to be taken as absolute rules. As aspiring authors, we can't help but obsess over every little detail. You're right, though. At the end of the day, we should do what feels right--it is often good enough.

Sumayyah said...

To quote a pirate: 'They're more like guidelines.' ;) Thanks for the post, Krista!

inkspatters said...

Great post -- I keep seeing all these what-not-to-do posts and it's been getting a little overwhelming lately. Also love the Pirates pic :D

Stephanie Jenkins said...

Great post :) I agree with Sandy--just do what feels right.

Angie said...

Very nice summary. Some of us are so caught up in following all the rules, we forget that the important thing is to just write the best darn book you can.

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

I've mentioned rejection on my blog but I never say anything "ill" or use names.
All the very best,

Alissa said...

I completely agree! I've always been something of a rebel. So, I take all words of advice with a grain of salt. I take in lots of advice, digest it all, and then do what feels right.