...  Publishing New Writers  ...
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 March, 2001

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Writing Assignment: Goal

You’ve got the tough part done. You created a setting, peopled it, explored a new character, and brought the first character into contact with another. As you recall, the last step required you to think ahead - what would the character’s ultimate role be in the story?

Now the process gets even more interesting. Finally, you are permitted to chart the course of your final story. This planning should be held now. Otherwise your plan may produce inconsistent and effective elements.

Think of it this way. If you plan ahead without carefully crafting character and setting first, you may make mistakes. For example, if you had planned a murder scene in Morocco at midnight, you would have to devise characters and settings which can make the murder plausible (and meaningful too, please). In doing so, you are likely to make some wild choices. The characters and settings you create may well appear contrived and inconsistent with each other and with the outcome.

It’s my position that you need to create your characters and settings first. Then set them loose and let their behavior and personality “play out.” If you start with a kindly priest as your main character, you won’t make the mistake of having him commit a murder at midnight in Morocco. Instead, you may have him encounter the murderer, or even be murdered himself. After all, you can't take him "out of character" unless you have a special condition or purpose.

The point is to create a believable character, and  “aim” him or her toward a goal. Then animate the character you’ve created and find out what he or she will do when confronted with your settings and goals. You may be surprised and so may the reader. But in the end, your characters will have greater integrity and readers will readily identify with them.

Your exercise for next month is to aim your character toward a worthwhile goal. (Worthwhile to your character, anyhow. But let's avoid the one-dimensional story where sex is the only goal. Please.)

Let the reader know what the goal is and why. Set your character on a  path toward that goal. 

Can you do it? Just one action scene this time!

(More on this next week.)

Good luck!






to Magazines

You impress the magazine publisher when you...
1. Study the editor’s publication for content and style, and don’t forget to request a copy of the writer’s guidelines as well as a schedule describing themes in upcoming months. Write to request it, or check the website for help.
2. Consider submitting articles that share information from your experience, in areas where you have particular expertise, with publishers of magazines who regularly feature content in that area. Nonfiction is fine, by the way. It gains you a publishing record, and is far more predictable. 

Remember, a successful track record in magazines will build your credibility when it comes time to market your manuscripts, be they fiction or non.

Go Back in Time!...

Check out our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook III. Visit... 


Writerly Websites...

Visit Emily Vander Veer's Writing for the Web. It's a clean website with sensitive advice for new writers. Emily has a great newsletter, too. Thorough lists of writers' resources. See...

Writing for the Web:


Kudos to HarperSanFranciso for taking a risk. They're hyping a new book. Not just any book. A poetry book, believe it or not. And one written by a nine year-old girl. Watch this author, Sahara Sunday Spain. She earned a large advance, and will go far.


Visit our sister websites...






E-Book Update........................

The E-Book publishing industry has finally been hit with the "Napster effect". Once music listeners took the copyright law into their own hands, many uncertain days passed before the courts began to agree that publishers held the rights to their products.

As mentioned in our past newsletters, this "Napster effect" could influence writers and readers. After all, from strictly transactional viewpoint, what is the publisher but a broker who stockpiles and promotes manuscripts for profit.

What we couldn't predict - what nobody seems to have foreseen - was the exact direction this would go. Our forecast - that the traditional book industry would fail to use e-books to bring new authors on the scene. So far this is correct  (The box score: $8 million to Hillary, $0 to new authors.)

But the problem arose within the publishing industry itself. A new publishing house (Rosetta Books) is releasing e-book versions of several out-of-print books, claiming author permission and the like. So Random House initiated legal action. Traditional publishers are stung, for it is their absolute and inviolate right to decide which books are in print And if there is money to be made, it's theirs.  See... David D. Kilpatrick, New York Times, 2/28/2001.

Perhaps you were aware MightyWords.com was a  newly formed online e-book publisher, which published books by new writers.  MightyWords was a division of fatbrain.com. However, this publisher had to abandon its quest, and now the focus is on professional texts, where sales are more predictable. There goes another one!


Publishing New Writers,

March, 2001 (no.203)

Editor Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

Submissions and comments to cookcomm@gte.net. Links are welcome.

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