Novel 101 and rejection
Monday, January 28, 2019 at 02:38PM
Nikko Lee in Safe Word, Writing

This past weekend I attended a Novel 101 presentation by Cynthia Thayer. I've attended her courses and talks before and really enjoy listening to her talk about the craft of writing. I never get bored of reviewing the basics. It's funny how understanding a concept if only one level; implementing it is another matter all together. I particularly liked the discussion about the crisis point.

Often when I start a book, I have in mind a character with a flaw or challenge that needs to be overcome so that they can move forward in their life. The whole first three-quarters of the book is all about leading up to that moment when they must make a decision or choice that at the beginning of the book they would have picked path A, but now after their newly gained experience they chose path B. It may be for the betterment of the character and their relationships or it might lead them down a road towards being the villain.

Because I write in multiple points of view (at least two for romances), each character has to have this challenge/crisis/change arc. I love forcing my characters to grow and overcome their flaws. But it has to be earned and hard. So hard that the reader doubts the character will overcome even if that's what the reader is rooting for.

With Safe Word, my main character Jacob is an egotistical, controlling man who feels that he must maintain control at all times. Control over himself, his relationship with his clients and the women he enters into BDSM relationships with. Because of his past experiences, he feels it's the only way he can ensure his partner's happiness. The novel gradually takes him on a journey to realize that he must surrender that control because it is an illusion.

About Safe Word... I was encouraged to get a full manuscript request. Alas, it was found to be lacking. I received the criticism that I expect and dread at the same time, that the writing is 'just not there'. There being a professional quality that would make the novel appealing to a mass market. The next day I received another rejection letter from an agent who I had given up on hearing anything positive back from.

These rejections both inspire the desire to quit and the desire to improve. Unfortunately, my time to write is extremely limited. I'm not sure if Safe Word is destined for the trunk or maybe in a few years when the kids are older I'll be able to devote the time needed to improve it.

Often I doubt my ability to write and my keyboard gets neglected. Then a character starts whispering in my ear 'write me'. I love the craft of writing, I just need a lot more practice and growth to get 'there'.

Article originally appeared on Nikko Lee (http://www.nikkolee.com/).
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