Over 30 years, I have written six novels and a memoir. My earliest attempts began when I was attending university. When I look back at these initiations into the world of writing, I see the immature and awkward fumblings of a rookie; the lack of character development; the inaccuracies in plots; the stilted dialogue.
Like other writers before me, I have come to write better, richer stories by writing more. And by reading more. How many times have we heard a professional writer advise developing writers to read as much as they can; especially literature related to the genre they are currently writing?
I have tried to attend lectures and readings by professionals. I have tried to network with other readers and writers. The advice received has been endless.
And still I have not been able to publish traditionally. I have self-published but if I had not been financially able to do this, it would never have happened. I think of all those excellent, unpublished writers out there who do not have the money to establish themselves.
Some of the advice I have received has been contradicted. One writer scanned the first page of a novel I had written and suggested I do not put dialogue into the opening sentence. Another writer said this was fine.
I take all critiques of my work seriously and I use them to hone my next novel. When I was much younger, I was so desperate to be recognized that I sent my work out to publishing companies quickly, with no regard to professional advice. Now, I consider it with much thought.
So with my most recent novel, Stay Above the Storm, a YA book, I tried to follow advice from others.
I introduced the central characters, the problem, and terse dialogue in the first three chapters. I attempted to grab the reader in the first page, making him/her wish to read more. I concluded the book with a solution that also raised some questions. But I tried to avoid contrived occurrences in doing so. I tried to leave a sense of hope because not all YA books (e.g., Cormier’s The Chocolate War) have to end depressingly or as if the world always falls apart.
I am trying to get SATS published and have sent it to some publishing companies, all of which have turned it down.
These rejections will not discourage me. I have been told that the rejections are not necessarily a reflection of my writing but that the content is not what they are looking for at the moment. They have been very polite but not exactly what I want to hear.
I suppose these are the reasons that writers get agents.