Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Secrets to Writing a Book Under Contract

So this is the first book I've written under contract, and I wanted to share my findings and experience with you all. Where else than on, uh, Secret Life of Writers? Anyway, the first tip:

Don't think about everyone else.

This is number one for me. Seriously. If I'm not careful, the pressure gets to me. And the truth is, the pressure is all my own. I'm not getting e-mails from my agent or my editor, urging me on or demanding to see anything. I still have time. But as writers, we have bone-deep desires to create a good story and to make our readers happy. Or at least make them affected by what we've written. There's something a little extra, a little more difficult about creating this under official circumstances. During my panic moments (and believe me, there are those moments, no matter how much I try to avoid them) I think, So this kind of HAS to be good. There's no other option. It's thoughts like this that we need to crush beneath our heels. We are writers, and we can do this, and all that matters is what words we want to put to the page. Not what the world wants us to put to the page.

Let your characters surprise you.

Usually if you're writing a book under contract, you've handed in a synopsis or at least a brief summary. So people have a good idea of where this story is going and what it's going to be about. The thing about stories, though, is they never turn out the way you think they're going to. Feel free to let circumstances take an unexpected twist. Make that character turn to the dark side, let those two people come together, allow a moment to creep into the chapter that wasn't mentioned in any e-mails or summaries or conversations. More often than not, it's the unexpected writing that becomes the most effective. 

Don't talk about it.

So this blog post kind of blatantly goes against this. But it's a lesson I've learned the hard way. I discovered that if I babble about a book while I'm in the midst of writing it, problems surface. Sometimes the person I'm talking to will offer an opinion. "I think this should happen" or "I don't like that". Being a people-pleaser, I begin to reconsider my own decisions and words. Granted, this might be a good thing during revisions. During the turmoil of writing the first draft, though? No. It's just bad. Also, another side effect to this: I lose steam. This might be a Kelsey quirk, but if I go into too much detail to someone about what the book is about and what happens, I get bored and begin to cheat on it with other, mysterious and intriguing ideas. So I find it's best to just give people a mischievous smile when they ask me about the new book.

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Kelsey Sutton has done everything from training dogs, making cheeseburgers, selling yellow page ads, and cleaning hotel rooms. Now she divides her time between her full-time college classes and her writing, though she can also sometimes be found pounding out horrible renditions of Beethoven on the piano and trying bizarre drinks at her local coffee shop. Kelsey lives in northern Minnesota with her dog and cat, Lewis and Clark. She is represented by Beth Miller of Writer's House, and her debut YA novel SOME QUIET PLACE is forthcoming from Flux in 2013. You can add it on Goodreads here!

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