Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How do YOU Make a Weak Book Stronger?

First, To answer a question:
A couple of people have written privately to ask why I’m excited about 32 followers when there are so many blogs out there that have 432 followers. One even suggested my excitement made me sound a little desperate and over the top. To use a political phrase and one that sets my teeth on edge, the truth of the matter is, <-do you ever believe anyone who starts a sentence that way? Well, believe this: I’m always a little over the top. That’s just me. Plus, I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I’m just now blessed enough to receive 32. That tells me, I’m finally making a few friends. I might be saying something 32 people want to hear/read, or … I really do seem desperate and you’re all taking pity on me. After all, I did say I was gonna hold my breath until I saw 30 faces over to my right. I really do cherish my followers. I look at your little miniature faces every day, smile and often go to your blogs and websites. Thanks for following me.

And now to business: Revision
I’m taking my completed manuscript, originally called Miranda’s Mistake, geared toward the Christian market, and rewriting it (trying to) for the general market (often referred to as the secular market). My former agent sent the proposal out to several publishing houses and didn’t receive any interest. I don’t know if it was because my writing is horrendous, his pitch was horrendous, or the subject matter isn’t right for the Chrtistian market.

One comment from an editor sticks in my head: too much angst.

I come from a category romance background. Too much angst was always good. But that was back in the old days, so . . . do I cut the angst?

Another editor said: too issue driven.

Darn, I love issues. And I love reading issue-driven books.

My husband said: not enough tension/intensity on that first page, gotta yank them in. Okay, I’ve tweaked the first page as well as the entire chapter.

Some of you have critiqued portions of Miranda’s Mistake, and if it matters any, the first chapter did place second in an RWA contest.

Oh, doesn't matter? Oooookayyyy.

A Love Inspired editor said it wasn’t strong enough. I’m not certain what that means. I guess overall, it’s just a weak book/story.

So my question to you: Tell me how you go about making a weak book stronger? Where do you look for weaknesses? I suspect conflict, motivation, what else? All comments welcome!


Erica Vetsch said...

I try to up the stakes, certainly, but also pare down the cast. Give secondary characters more than one job to do, or start drawing unusual connections between the characters that I can reveal later. Make the story tightly intertwined.

Best wishes with your rewrites!

Jan Rider Newman said...

I don't know that you've got a weak book. Maybe you do. Start with the plot. Does it sound like something that can carry an entire book? As Erica Vetsch said, look for places where you can up the stakes. Any place where things are going well is a spot to throw in a monkey wrench. Keep the reader guessing about a character's motives and reliability. Read a book that's similar to the one you want to write and take it apart. How did that writer keep you interested? You can do this. You've done it before.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Fact of the matter is.... ;-)

It DOES matter if the book placed
2nd in a RWA contest! Do you know how hard it is to place in one of those?!?

I don't believe you have a weak book - I believe you have a lack of confidence since it's been so long since you were published in fiction.

My advice - listen to your heart about what's RIGHT with the story (not all the voices in your head telling you what's wrong) and build on that.

You can do this!

I'm SO proud you've decided to.

Good luck & God's blessings and if you want me to read/critique (not that I'm all that LOL) but send it on!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

PS: I think it's GREAT you have 32 followers, I'm still in the 20-something so come on over and follow me too Readers!

Marti Rulli said...

There is lots of valuable information about this very topic at a 5,000+-strong women's writing group called SheWrites (I am an author and a member.) The website is Aspiring writers, and authors can join, FREE. I learned valuable info on editing, re-writig, and marketing there. My blog is

Every weak book can be tweaked...ol..took me DECADES to finsih mine, not I've two more done in just a few months. You keep going!

Marti Rulli said...

and I'm sorry I didn't spellcheck my last comment...sorry, I'm rushing off and I'm late...