I went to another meeting of the Henderson Writer’s Group last night. This is only the second meeting I have attended and while I enjoy myself at the meetings, I really wish they would have them earlier in the day. They start at 6:30 p.m. — probably so people who work during the day can attend — and run until about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. The problem for me is, I like to go to be early. I don’t like to be out late at night (yes, 9 p.m. is late for me) and I can’t just come home and go to bed because I’m usually too wound up. I need time to relax. I’m one of the fortunate few who can write full time. I don’t have a day job — writing is my day job. So it would be much easier for me to go to a meeting during the day. But as I said, I enjoy the meetings and I can only go every other week, so I just suck it up.
Chuck Sambuchino from Writer’s Digest was the guest speaker. The main topic was query letters, but he talked about a few other things too — writing a synopsis, getting an agent, etc. There were many things I had read about before, but for some reason when someone is telling it to you in person it finally makes sense. I think the thing I found most helpful was writing the pitch in the query. One thing he said is to give specifics and avoid generalities. He also said the number one reason for a rejection is the book is sent out before it’s ready. A lot of writers get sick of reading and working on the manuscript (I know I get sick of my short stories) and just send it off. Instead, we should put it away for 3 weeks or longer and then go back and edit again.
Also, he told us that a lot of books start off too slow and don’t get to the action until too far into the book. I’ve heard this too many times to count and tried not to do that with my novel, but last night it finally clicked. I realized my novel didn’t really get started until chapter three. So chapter three is now chapter one. I was lucky in the fact that changing the order of the chapters really didn’t matter and now I have a stronger beginning. Next time, I’ll try to give more information on query letters.