Happy New Year! And Yes I’m Still Here!

And yes, Shards (AKA “Big Book”) is still on its way. I recently switched from Pages to Scrivener to help manage it. As Peter O’Toole said in “Creator”:

Book One of shards is a bit north of 100,000 words, while Book Two is somewhere over 120,000 words at the moment. I’ve spent the last year reworking Book One, which should be ready for release before too long. It’s not that the book is completely unmanageable in Pages, but with so many tens of thousands of words to look at it’s proven difficult to resist the temptation to keep going back and tinkering with earlier passages. Scrivener’s “index card” model has helped with that by turning the scenes into a series of self-contained blocks of text that I can edit (and easily rearrange) individually, then “compile” into a finished document. And I haven’t even really started using the character and location sheets or other resources it makes available. Way (waaaaay) back in the day when I ran Windows with Office 2000, I used to do something similar with the Microsoft Binder format, combining maps, images, etc., with the manuscript in a single file, so this is very much Back to the Future for me. If you’re a writer, I’d recommend checking out Scrivener. (My wife is even thinking about using it for her classroom!)

I thought it would be interesting to dip into my vast trove of rejection (and a few acceptance) letters for something “Shards”-related; here’s an example of one that I got back from the David H. Morgan Literary Agency in Virginia. My exchanges with David were far and away the most useful interaction I’ve had with a literary agent, including the ones who actually took me on as a client. I kept his advice in mind when reworking Shards, as well as when writing all of my subsequent books. My favorite nugget is “chase your characters up a tree and then throw rocks at them”, but the entire letter is full of extremely useful commentary and suggestions.

The rejections I got from David H. Morgan (I could fill several weeks’ worth of “Random Rejection” posts with his letters) made me a much better writer. In particular, he helped me see I needed to be quite ruthless cutting scenes and subplots that didn’t advance the story; you’ll notice he refers to a sex scene in his postscript, which takes place between a couple of characters I long since deleted from the book, most of whose actions occurred in a subplot that no longer exists. (Years later, this advice led me to cut the wizard Orioke as a point-of-view character in Dragon Stones, when I realized having him as one wasn’t really adding anything. This made Dragon Stones probably 100 pages shorter, but I don’t think anyone missed those pages.)

And yes, as can be seen from the dates on these letters, I originally wrote Shards nearly 20 years ago. (It’s so old, I was still using “Jim Viscosi” on my stuff rather than the so-much-more-authorly [and, according to some, villainous] “James V. Viscosi”.) Thank you, David, for spending so much time writing letters to a 23-year-old nobody. I still appreciate it.

4 thoughts on “Happy New Year! And Yes I’m Still Here!

  1. Happy New Year to you too!

    A few friends always ask, “Can you say the same thing, but only use one sentence?”
    They are into editing or think I’m long-winded.
    They’ve turned me into an asthmatic blogger: short-winded. hee hee!


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