Category Archives: Writing about writing

Are copywriters sellouts?

Some snotty artiste types might say that novelists working as copywriters are sellouts, but I prefer to use the term “employed.”

Do marketers “use” copywriter-novelists in the worst sense of that word? No, smart novelists use marketers to get paid while they do what they enjoy: wordcraft. If a writer can get paid to write, then that writer gets to write instead of wasting good writing time at a day-job that prevents him from writing. Right? Right. So go write.

So ended the debate about whether I should add copywriting to the jumble of things I do to earn my keep and began my epic quest to be The Best Copywriter in the Whole Effing World. Ambitious? Sure, but why would I aim for less?

That means I had better get back to reading more about copywriting and honing my craft.

Butt in seat

I haven’t posted anything here for a few days, with good reason.

In addition to FREE AMERICA, I have two other novel projects that I am working on. So, while working in the “getting published” mode, also I have been writing, plotting, researching, re-writing, and doing all of those other things that go into the making of a novel.

While operating in “getting published” territory, mostly I have been distilling my query letter for FREE AMERICA. Now it is time for me to turn my attention to working on the synopsis.

Ahhhhhh the Synopsis. I should probably say “synopses.” By that, I mean it looks like I might need to write a few versions of different lengths. At least I enjoy the challenge.

I guess I had better get back at it.

A Writer Re-Writes.

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”–Mark Twain

Right now, some smart ass is reading the above and saying, “WRONG! It is French mathematician Blaise Pascal who wrote that in 1657! HA-HA-HA! I am smarter than you!”

Of course, Mr./Mrs./Ms. smart ass is looking past the FRENCH mathematician writing something along those lines in FRENCH, so saying the quote is misattributed…

c’est une ânerie.

But certainly it wasn’t an original thought. Other smart asses will say John Locke wrote something like that around 1690 and maybe even shove in your face something about Benjamin Franklin getting on the bandwagon around 1750.

This tends to prove two things every writer knows (or will find out) without having to hear/read assholes arguing about who said what first:

  1. The best writers know how to steal great stuff (ask Shakespeare when you get the chance)
  2. Minimizing word count sucks

The pain and misery of linguistic economy worsens when an author sits down to squirt out a query letter. If I were to believe much of what I have read, I would think the point of the exercise is to come as close as possible to getting across what is written in 70,000 to 120,000 words with a few sentences.

Impossible? Probably. But I don’t think that is the point.

I am coming to understand the query to be a literary come-on designed to get your prospective agent/publisher horny for your manuscript. Teasing is the thing that elicits the hot-and-bothered sensation in the mind of the reader. Unfortunately, I’ve never been much of a tease.

And maybe now I’m the smart-assed asshole saying I know more than you do.

Whatever. You decide.

I’m afraid I will perpetually feel the need for another draft (or draught) until somebody goes all-in on this sumbitch.

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Query, query, quite contrary…

So, I have started the process of sending out query letters to literary agents. This is something like saying “I have started the process of passing a kidney stone without the benefit of modern medicine.” I expect it might take a long time and might not be the most enjoyable thing I could be doing.

Although I have only been doing this for short time, I have learned some things:

1. My first query letter sucked
2. My revised query letter still sucked
3. Most guides to writing query letters suck

Yesterday, I stumbled across a query letter writing blog that I think is fantastic:

The Query Shark blog is run by a literary agent who also helps aspiring authors by eviscerating their shitty query letters. Authors whose query letters are selected for evisceration then have the opportunity to submit revised query letters to be further eviscerated. Eventually, some get to the point where they are actually pretty good. In reading through the archive, I have learned some of the reasons why my previous queries sucked. Reading the entire archive is mandatory before submitting a letter to be chum for the Query Shark.

I was going to send out at least one query letter every day until I began reading this blog. Instead of sending a query letter today, I revised my query letter about 15 times. I’m not going to send it out again until I have finished reading the entire Query Shark archive and revised my query until it seems to meet the Query Shark standard. After that, I’m probably going to revise it some more.

Thank you, Query Shark. You rawk.

Calling names

Once upon a time, I was a lawyer. This wasn’t that long ago, as I haven’t wrapped up my last case. Still, I prefer to think of it in the past, my in-good-standing licensure be damned.

In my lawyering, I sometimes was forced to go places that didn’t suck. One of these occasions was about a week ago when I was forced to go to Miami while it was cold as balls back at home.

While I was there I did a little word sketching, playing around with the mind of a character in my second novel manuscript. It is a newborn thing just beginning its life, not yet fully aware of what it is. But the CHARACTERS. Man, the characters. They can’t wait to bust out. They are out of control.

Only problem is, they don’t have names yet. Or maybe that isn’t a problem. I am certain they will name themselves after they hang out with me for a while. They already call each other names, but nothing that might appear on a birth certificate.

So, any writers (or non-writers) out there that have any comments about naming characters are welcome here. You are among friends–me and my multiple personalities. We think it is cool that you actually read this and took the time to comment. Truly.

Don’t everybody post all at once now. Don’t want to crash those servers.

I am a terrible blogger.

How many times have I started a blog and let it slide away into oblivion, neglecting it for more “worthwhile” or “real” writing? I dunno. But plenty. I am certain that the carcasses of long-forgotten blogs are out there somewhere, lurking in the cyberspace of the interwebs, waiting to embarrass me someday when I least expect it.

I think my main problem is that I thought my blog needed a “theme” tying it all together, unlike my true life which seems to have the common theme of chaos and anarchy laced with OCD. I give up. Screw theme. This is me, and this is what I write. If you don’t like it, then just shine on, my friend. Shine on.