Lessons Learned...The Acceptance Way

Friday, May 21, 2010
So, I've been writing this series of blogs called Lessons Learned...The Rejection Way, hoping to help other writers learn their lesson by reading about my rejections. I've been rejected for things like info dumping, reactive characters, easy endings, unlikable characters, and over telling.

But it gets a little depressing to always focus on the negative.

Thus, today I'm going to talk about what a writer actually does RIGHT to get themselves published. And here's a happy little secret before I start: All those reasons up there I've received rejections...I've done them--yes, ALL of them--and still sold my story.

I'm guessing right about now, you're wondering, "Then what in the world do I need to do to get my book noticed by a freaking publisher or agent?" Answer: Who really knows, but I think it takes a collaborative effort of tying the plot, characters, setting, tone, and author's voice into a fascinating story to catch a reader's attention.

Here's an example.

I was scanning Amazon for a new romantic suspense author. When I saw One Scream Away by Kate Brady in the "readers also bought these" section under some of my favorite romantic suspense authors, I googled her and checked out her website. After reading the first few lines of the excerpt she provided for this story, I immediately bought the book.

Here's one TOTALLY AMAZING paragraph from that excerpt:
Chevy Bankes looked down at the woman. Lila Beckenridge, her driver’s license said, the photo showing razor-sharp cheekbones and hair scraped into a bun. A dancer, he’d decided while roping her ankles—callused feet and spaghetti-thin body, the faint odor of perspiration layered beneath her perfume.
We have plot (Chevy is going to murder Lila--duh), character (he's a psycho murderer that kills complete strangers; she's a dancer and it's obvious she puts her all into that endeavor), setting (it's vividly understandable we're at the murder scene that's about to take place), tone (romantic suspense, no doubt--or at least it's clearly suspenseful at this point), and voice (just look at all those colorful descriptions and lively verbs Brady uses--razor-sharp cheekbones, hair scraped into a bun, callused feet, spaghetti-thin body, perspiration layered...--outstanding!).
It's no wonder this author sold her book. There's all that story already packed into one little paragraph. She makes each word count toward the collective goal.
I suppose that's my lesson for the day: Make each word count. If a word, line, paragraph, or chapter doesn't add to the plot, character, setting, tone, or voice do you really need to keep it?
Yeah. Just think about it! And good luck with your manuscript.


  1. Linda, I just love that reminder today to make each word count. I'm finishing up my WIP and getting ready to edit it. So I will keep this in mind as I edit! Thank you!

  2. This is a great reminder, Linda! And that less is sometimes more. I'm editing my last WIP and starting a new one today so this advice is perfect for me.

  3. Make each word count. Great advice. :)

  4. Excellent lesson! Though I tend to write short, it doesn't mean every one of my words count. I need to work on that. Thanks!