Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE




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ARCHIVES OF September, 2012

What It Takes

What It Takes

One Shot

By Shawn Coyne | Published: September 28, 2012


The other day someone asked me what I thought a first novelist needs to know about the business.

  • You have one opportunity at each of the publishing houses. There are no second chances.  Your agent (and yes you need an agent to get your book in front of an editor) can’t send the book to another editor at a house if one has already passed. Publishers are small operations these days and everyone inside them knows what everyone else is being submitted. An agent who sends the same book to two editors at the same house will be considered a nuisance and not taken seriously. And when your agent isn’t being taken seriously, you won’t be either.
  • You have one opportunity to be positioned as a fresh new voice.  Your agent can’t pitch you as the next up and coming thing on your second novel if your first novel does not sell. As a former big six editor, I can tell you how quickly my eyes glazed over when I was pitched a new novel from someone I’d rejected before.
  • You cannot expect an editor to buy on “potential.” The days of working through multiple drafts of a novel with an editor at a publishing house are gone. If she can’t figure out how to position and sell the manuscript that is right in front of her, no matter how well written the book is she won’t buy it.  Don’t hold back expecting someone to help you take it to the next level.
  • Just because the big publishers did not believe enough in your novel to take it on doesn’t mean that there is no audience for your work.
  • (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Thinking in Blocks of Time

By Steven Pressfield | Published: September 26, 2012

I’m just home from two weeks’ vacation—and gearing up to get back to work. The first thing I’ll do is stop myself from thinking in terms of immediate gratification.


Dirty Harry taught us, "A man's gotta know his limitations."

I will make myself think, instead, in blocks of time.

I will not put pressure on the first day, or even the first week. Resistance would love me to do that. Resistance knows that if I try to do too much too soon, I’ll fail. Resistance would love to see that happen.

So I will remind myself that the enemy is not time. The enemy is Resistance.

The wide receiver returning from injury knows he can’t run a 4.3 forty the first day back. If he tries, he’ll pull a hamstring. I will learn from him. When I sit down to work, I will think in terms, not of Day One, but of Week One, Month One, and From Now Till New Year’s.

I will not try to use the big writing muscles yet. I’ll stick to the little ones. I’ll transcribe, I’ll research, I’ll compile. I won’t try to do real writing for another four or five days and, when I do, I won’t go all-out.

What I’m doing is “building up.”

If I were a trainer working with a two-year-old colt, I would not let him run flat-out the first day back from a lay-off. I might not let him run at all. I might spend the first day working on entering the starting gate or being led to the paddock and being saddled. I will let him stretch his legs a little, but no racing, not even for fun.

When we think in terms of blocks of time, it takes pressure off the need for immediate production. We don’t mind going slowly the first few days because we know we’ll hit our stride in a week or two.

Starting slow does something else that is not often appreciated. It sends a message. A low-pressure Day One tells the muscles, “Wake up, work is coming.” It doesn’t make the muscles panic. It just gets them in the mood. When we up the pace on Day Two, the muscles get the picture. They start to prepare. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

What It Takes

What It Takes

Praise for the Vuvuzela-Loving Steel Magnolia

By Callie Oettinger | Published: September 21, 2012

I don’t want to get up.

This thought hits me at about 4:30 AM every morning. It comes in the voice of the animated devil sitting on my shoulder, a la the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. The little angel on the other shoulder always responds by climbing into my head and yelling, get up, lazy—almost as annoying as a soccer stadium filled with four-year olds going to town with vuvuzelas.

For the most part, the devil doesn’t say much. I rarely hear his voice. He just sits around grinning. The angel is the vocal one because she’s the key motivator—and she’s a real steel magnolia, with a mouth that would cause a shipful of sailors on liberty to blush.

The devil is more like a marionette operator. He know which strings to pull, without saying a word. Next thing I know, I’ve spent an hour on Facebook. Huge timesuck that one.

It’s interesting, because the good guy is always portrayed as being nice, sweet, and a million other buzzwords. But this gal on my shoulder is a nut case.


Posted in What It Takes
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