Friday, October 10, 2008

The Story Is Done! Now All I Need Is Someone to Write the Story!

So, let's say that I have written a fictional book. I've had some friends read it, and while they like it, it certainly needs a "real author's" touch. I think I need some character development, etc. It's kind of like I have the frame work of a house, but need it finished...Any suggestions?
Are we talking about a hypothetical fictional book that needs to be written by someone else? Please take this moment to imagine the hypothetical look on my face.

What you've described is like having a sketch of a house and needing someone else to draw the blueprints, get the permits, pour the foundation, build the house, and paint, decorate, and furnish it.

Now, every once in a while we get submissions from a two-author team wherein one "author" came up with the idea and the "other" author actually wrote the manuscript. And if that's the way people want to do things, and the person who did all the work is willing to split the royalties with the idea person, then, well... whatever.

But you'll have to be the one to find the writer who can write your story well and is willing to split the money with you. DO NOT try to submit an idea to a publisher and expect them to find a writer for it. In an industry that is all about execution (see post below re: pythons), we don't have any time or patience for this.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm hypothetically laughing my hypothetical ass off right now.

Anonymous said...

It's good that the OP actually knows the book needs work, though. When I was green I would've sent that right out to a million agents, I didn't know any better, none of us do at first. Original Poster -- what you've desribed is a rough draft. After you get that first draft out of you with blood sweat and tears, then you roll up your sleeves and do the real work -- rewriting. That's where you FIX everything that's wrong. I'd skip trying to find a "real writer" to "touch" your manuscript. Those are called book doctors, they are illegal and shady and want to take your money. Don't go there.

If it were easy, we'd all be published.

Take your question and apply it to any other aspect of life and you'll see its hilarity... I hypothetically have in mind the man I would want to marry. He must be tall, dark, and handsome. Also, rich. Would anyone be interested in going on the next thousand dates for me and selecting the three most likely candidates, I'll take it from there.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea of the people I want my children to grow up to be, now can someone else raise them?

eluper said...

I get people at cocktail parties, at the store, in the dentist chair and all sorts of other pplaces pitching ideas for children's books to me. Invariably, the offer is the same: "I'll give you the idea and you can write it. Then we can split the profits."

I smile and nod while they get their pitch out. Then, I politely tell them that my hard drive is filled with enough of my own ideas that I won't have an opportunity to get to theirs for a few decades.

ajree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ajree said...

Let me clarify, as the original poster. I wrote a book, totaling somwhere near 200-250 pages. There is a full story line, characters, plot, etc. So, it's not just an "idea" or hypothetical, as you suggest. The problem, as I apparantly failed to articulate properly in my example, is like home building. You have framers, finishers, plumbers, electricians, and I suppose, general handymen. I can reasonably manage my expectations, and do not expect to be the next Stuart Woods, but would like to get a legitimate author to take a look, and perhaps add that more professional touch. That's all. I have re-written from a rough draft already, but thanks for your thoughts...

www.jokingright.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Most writers come about that "professional touch" by re-writing and re-writing and re-writing -- four, five, six drafts. They read tons of craft books that teach less-experienced writers how to do this.

If you want a published writer to go over your work without completing the above steps, either join a high-level critique group or be prepared to fork over big bucks for a professional editor.

ajree said...

Will do, thanks "Anonymous."

macaronipants said...

Building a house does require framers and electricians and plumbers and all sorts of other subcontractors. There's the hot mop guy and the Finish Contractor. But, there are no subcontractors in writing. Even a good critique group or trusted readers are simply people you might stand in front of your house and say, "what do you think?" You wouldn't expect them to pick up a hammer.

The agent and editor? Them you expect to pick up hammers. And sledge hammers. And maybe even chainsaws. But they are more like the inspectors, not the subs.

So I'm just a bit confused when you say you'd like a "legitimate author" to "add a professional touch". Are you talking about a critique?

ajree said...

Perhaps a critique, and perhaps some help. I guess the feedback I have gotten thus far from family/friends and a good friend of mine in L.A. who reads movie scripts for a living, is that while the overall story is a good one, the concept is a good one, etc., that my character development, and or overall "story telling" ability could use some work. I am not a professional writer. Never claimed to be. I suppose that now that I have my "finished" draft, and actually got the nerve up to send it to family/friends to read/critique, I don't know where to go from here. I did incorporate some of their suggestions which made sense to me. Maybe it will never go anywhere, and will be something that I can just say I did. I have "thick-skin," and realize that some people may never like it, no matter who wrote it. I can handle critiques. I just thought, perhaps incorrectly, that if I could get it to someone who writes professionally (or even part-time), that he/she could fine tune some of the details and storyline. I am not expecting a lot, just wondering what to do with it now.

Anonymous said...

"I am not a professional writer. Never claimed to be." Do you want to be one? It's hard to tell how much heart you have for this. Because, if you want to improve your story, you can do it yourself, but it's not easy. It takes work. I get the feel that you don't want to do the work.

I saw this quote on another blog yesterday -

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

-Calvin Coolidge

So, Press On! Study, research, practice and you'll get there.

macaronipants said...

I guess motivation is the key question here. Do you want to be published? Because if you want publication, then you need to treat writing a book as though it were a job. A job where you need to figure out all the parts yourself and do them well. Even if it takes you a long time to learn how.

You can take classes and workshops. But the best teacher of writing is actually writing. And reading in your genre. You can always pay for a professional edit, but you'll still have to take those paid suggestions and make them work. No one will take your work and re-write it for you.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. But with persistence and dedication, you can really learn how to do this for yourself. The question is, is that what you want?

macaronipants said...

We were having the same thoughts, Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

ajree --

I get what you are asking now.
You might want to take up the previous advice and join a critique group. It doesn't take a professional author, sometimes, to be able to point out flaws.

It sounds like you are wanting something more formal -- since you mentioned your friend makes a living reading screenplays in L.A. I'm a screenwriter too, and there are "coverage" programs, from the Austin Film Festival Scrennplay competition where screenwriters can get "professional" coverage notes for thier scripts for $100. BUT, sadly, nothing like this, that is organized in that fashion, and legitimate, is out there for aspiring novelists.

You might want to look in your area at the writers conferences. When I was just starting out I paid forty dollars for a manuscript critique at a writers conference and it pointed out some things I could do that made the book much, much better.

Good luck to you.

ajree said...

Thanks Anonymous, I think we are on the same page now. It is not that my heart is not in it, In fact, I do have writing experience in other areas. I have published articles in the past in scholarly journals related to my employment discipline. This however, was my first crack at writing a fictional work. I suppose the help I am seeking is the guidance of someone with experience in the area. To make it clearer, I guess I can use the example of playing a musical instrument. Anyone can press a key on a piano, but that does not mean they are making music. One can read about music theory, and study various books related to playing piano, but the real students seek out the guidance of those who know how to play. Sure, I can read texts and try to become a great author forever, but sometimes the subject matter experts out there can get you there faster. That's all I was asking. I guess I am kind of looking for a "coach" of sorts to read what I have and provide guidance based on their expertise in the field. Imagine what a mess we'd have if after reading about the rules of the road, and taking a paper exam, we just gave people driver's licenses without giving them some time behind the wheel.

ehadams23 said...

Ajree, you should look into the UCLA Extension Writer's Program. The classes can be somewhat expensive, but they are all taught by actual published authors and can be done online. I found the critiques given by my classmates and the teacher to be quite helpful in finding the problems in my own work.

In the end, you probably need to write another draft or two, or perhaps consider putting it aside for a while and writing something else, then going back to the first book in a month or two, when it will be fresh again. Good luck with your writing.

ajree said...

Thanks everyone...At least my question spurned a lively debate...

Anonymous said...

As a "John Q Public" who's always dreamed of being a "Best-selling Author," I find your blog entertaining and insightful, if not just a little TOO MUCH reality!

Still, keep at it, and THANKS!

Posted by: Frantically Dreaming of Making A Living Writing

Anonymous said...

If I had a pound (or $2.40) for every time someone's offered me an idea, in return for half the royalties... Well, I wouldn't be rich, but I'd have sunk a few nice bottles of wine. But since this poster seems actually to have got quite a lot of words down on paper, there's something for them to work on and learn from. If they want to. As a commenter said above, motivation is all.

"I'd skip trying to find a "real writer" to "touch" your manuscript. Those are called book doctors, they are illegal and shady and want to take your money. Don't go there."

Here in the UK we have editorial services which are none of these things, but take a reasonable amount of money for a long, serious report on the strengths and weaknesses of a writer's novel, and an exploration of how to improve it. I'm sure the US is no different. They can't get you published, but they can help you to see how YOU can make it a better book. Many such editors are indeed 'real writers' - in some agencies they all are, while in others they're mostly ex- or moonlighting editors and the like.

Anonymous said...

Get in line, dude.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I echo a lot of what's been said here. Learning to be an author takes time and effort and sometimes a bit of money (classes, retreats, workshops).

If you just want to see your words in book form, there's Lulu. It's a service that you pay for and they give you a bound copy of your book. Then you can have it on your bookshelf or your coffee table and be done with it.

There are a lot of people out there putting words on paper but not seeking publication through traditional means. There are websites that are devoted to some of these people and they 'publish' their books online for others to read at will. You could think of these authors as the amateurs. They don't seem to be looking for publication.

If you want to be a published author - be accepted by an editor at a publishing house that doesn't charge you to publish your book - that's a different story.

Critique groups help. There are professional critiquers out there, editorial services (not the illegal book doctors) that you can pay for that will help you figure out what's the next step to take.

craigslist might have people looking for critique group members. There are also other organizations that organize critique groups.

ajree said...

Again, thanks everyone, at the very least, all of your suggestions have pointed me in a direction I was unaware of previously. I will look into a lot of your ideas...I did spend the time to copyright it as well, I guess as a vanity thing, but if anyone wants to take a read, let me know...Hahaha!

Twill said...

It depends upon
(1) what the problems with the book are, and
(2) what your level of skill is, and
(3) whether you actually desire to become a professional writer.

If you want to become a pro at fiction writing, then you need to buckle down and learn the craft first, then rework your novel yourself. (Perhaps with input from a crit group, then later participation by an agent or editor.)

If you don't want to be a fiction writer, and if the book still has some merit and originality, then perhaps a professional editor, a collaboration with a fiction writer, or a ghost writer might be appropriate.

Your route from here depends upon where you are going.

ajree said...

Thanks Twill, et. al., I really appreciate the help....

www.jokingright.blogspot.com

writing research paper said...

Amazing post! Thanks a lot.