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RandiLynnMrvos

Saturday, February 15, 2020


                                                                                                                                                                                                           Photo: Toa Heftiba
WON'T YOU PLEASE, PLEASE HELP ME?

It's a mystery to me.  Some writers ask for editorial help and then ignore the very help they seek.

I've noticed this behavior in one-to-one meetings, on Twitter, and at RLM Editorial.  Writers contact me to get help with various parts of the publication process.  Some want advice on writing a query letter.  Others want a manuscript critique or line editing.  Then, I never hear back.  Maybe they are put off because I ask them to supply important elements of the story:    
  • A description of the main character
  • The main character's want
  • The obstacle(s) that get in the way of the want
  • What's at stake (why the reader should care) and what will happen if the character fails 
  • The theme of the story
Why is this required?  The reason is, I want to bring awareness to the essentials of a story.  I want to find out if a manuscript has been well-thought out.  Filling me in on the story gives me an idea how much time would be needed to work on a project.    

I'm not the only one who feels that these points are important.  

Former literary agent and editorial consultant Mary Kole says, "Make me care.  A lot of queries don’t tell me what’s important to the character, what’s at stake, how things go from bad to worse for them.  People read to bond with people.  Even if you’ve got a blockbuster plot, the character is still important because they’re what will pull me into the other elements of your story." 

Award-winning and internationally published author K.M. Weiland says, "Character motivations drive your story. The protagonist’s motivation is what informs his goal, which is what creates the plot.  And motivation always comes down to your story’s stakes.  What’s at stake for your characters?"
               Photo: Helloquence 

Best-selling children's author Debbie Dadey says, "Something important must be at stake in the story to make us care.  And the more heart-breaking important it is to our character, the more we care.  Look at your story to see what is at stake."

Addressing theme is equally important.  Soheila Battaglia, a published and award-winning author and filmmaker, defines theme as not a summary of a piece of literature; it is a universal statement, moral lesson, message or idea that addresses the experience of being human.

Mary Kole believes the theme or Big Idea is what you want to say about your book.  She says, "that she's high on book themes these days. You, as the writer have one responsibility: you have to as Ursula Nordstrom says, 'dig deep and tell the truth' about the world as you see it. That plays directly into the why of your story, as in, why are you as a person telling this story to the world now?" 

As these top-notch writers indicate, knowing the stakes and the theme are necessary in crafting a story.  And yet, the very thought of identifying the stakes and theme may scare off some potential clients.  

But who really knows?  There could be a multitude of reasons why I never hear back.  And there's no point in trying to analyze why they ignore the help they've asked for.  I am not offended.  It's their choice.  In all sincerity, I really do wish them the best.  They must figure out if they actually need help.  It's not an easy decision for some.  But they should know that many writers sought out the advice at some point in their careers.  They didn't ask for help and then ignore it.  They asked for help and followed though.  

✌ and