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WIPjoy #12

12. Song/s on your MC’s playlist.

She would never admit to this, but she likes some of the music her dad listens—or listened—to. Like Fleetwood Mac and Elton John and The Police and (very, deeply secretly) Jim Croce. And the usuals from that period, too, like Pink Floyd and Queen. Maybe a bit of Moody Blues. Classic rock, basically, and while she probably wouldn’t be teased for it, Nissa errs on the side of caution and doesn’t really talk about her taste in music. Her friends can blare the latest radio pop star and she’ll just nod.

Playlist would include:

“Friends” by Elton John
“A Kind of Magic” by Queen
“Operator” by Jim Croce
“Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
“In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel
“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police*
“The Road and the Sky” by Jackson Browne
“Breathe” by Pink Floyd

*This is the one Nerissa dances to in her room when no one else is around.

WIPjoy #11

11. A line about your protagonist.

Like, an actual line from the book? Or just something I make up right here and now?

Here’s a paragraph from the first page of the manuscript:

Who am I? You shouldn’t even have to ask; I’ve been in the tabloids since the moment I was born. My dad was Bryce Dey. The actor. You know him from movies, but he got his start doing Shakespeare, and he could have named me any number of cool, almost normal names like Miranda or Ariel (except Dad said Ariel was a boy?), but instead he picked Hamlette.

What to Look For in a Small Publisher

Please come visit me over at Dale Cameron Lowry’s site where I’m discussing, well, just what the title of this post says. I’ve learned a lot about contracts and red flags, and while many small publishers are good (or at the very least mean well), you really need to know what you’re getting into. The first step, of course, is to clarify what YOU want for your book. Then find the publisher who can work with you to get there!

LOVE Dale’s infographic, btw. Very handy! And I’ve never had anyone make a graphic for me before, so I’m super flattered. Hope you’ll swing by the post for a look!

WIPjoy #10

10. Describe your MC with a phrase for each of the 5 senses.

Nerissa’s skin is smooth, but her attitude is rough around the edges. Marc Jacobs’ Daisy wafts from the swing of her hair. Her tongue—her very voice—is the cracking of a whip. “I wish I could tan,” she says, “but I’m so pale, I practically glow at night.” Her words tend to be bitter, but at the core she’s sweet.

WIPjoy #9

9. How would your MC use Twitter?

Actually, I think she avoids Twitter, and I’ll tell you why. Her dad is famous. If Nerissa tries to go on Twitter, all she gets are requests for pics of her dad, questions about her dad, etc. Even if she makes up a name and identity, she gets ferreted out. Her dad advises against bothering with most social media, so Niss mostly texts and Skypes or FaceTimes her friends and that’s about it.

She might have Instagram though.

WIPjoy #8

8. Introduce the MC (share a pic)!

The main character is Hamlette Nerissa Dey. She goes by her middle name for obvious reasons. She’s sixteen, daughter of A-list actor Bryce Dey. Nerissa (Nissa for short) grew up with a certain amount of privilege, but throughout the novel she begins to see ways in which she’s been too self-centered. Through the events of the book, she matures.

Nerissa has reddish-brown hair. Her mother gives her grief for being a size 10, but Nissa is satisfied with her curves. (I feel like it’s important that not all our heroines be waifs.) I can really only borrow stock photos to try and create an image of her, since I’ve got no particular actress in mind. (Her dad is totally Hugh Jackman, though, and her evil uncle is Ethan Hawke.)

Here’s Nissa from the back—this is totally her hair, anyway. And this model comes fairly close to my mental image, at least in terms of attitude:

WIPjoy #7

7. A writing tip that has helped you.

There must be so many . . . I remember my thesis advisors telling me to watch for the word “just” because I used it too much. That was helpful. I know that it’s important to get a draft out and not pause to self-edit because then I’ll never finish the draft. That’s a useful tip, though I admit I struggle with it. Which is why it takes me forever to finish a draft. I’m trying to get better about that, though. Learning to query only agents at first and then publishers if I didn’t find an agent—that was good information, too. (I made the mistake of querying both simultaneously with one of my early manuscripts.)

In short, there are a lot of helpful tips out there. Some you’ll be able to implement, some may be harder. Some may feel unfair, like when I say, “Don’t rely on dreams and visions to move your protagonist through the story,” and then you see a successful author like Rick Riordan do that all the f***ing time, and you wonder why you can’t. The answer is: you’re not Rick Riordan. (And, really, it drives me up the wall when he does it, too.)

I’m always learning as a writer. I think that’s important. Publishing is a rapidly changing industry, and trends are also always in flux. (That’s another tip: don’t write to trends because by the time you’ve got a finished manuscript, that trend will likely be over.) So stay on top of what’s going on. And write what you like, what you feel passionate about, because it will show in your prose. Your enthusiasm as a writer is part of what pulls your readers in.

There must be a million more tips that have helped me but that I’m not thinking of right now. When I get good advice, I adopt it and it becomes part of my process, so integrated that I don’t even think about it any more. Meanwhile, be sure to follow #WIPjoy on Twitter for more great writing tips!