A note from our president, Angi Morgan
Angi Morgan is the author of Intrigues where honor and danger collide with love. She combines actual Texas settings with characters who are in realistic and dangerous situations. Her debut Harlequin Intrigue, Hill Country Holdup, is her Golden Heart winning manuscript and also an RT & Booksellers’ Best Award nominee.
The STRUGGLES with CHAPTER 6
Many years ago at one of the first regional conferences I attended, an editor stated: It’s not the first or last chapter that sells a book, it’s chapter 4. She (I wish I could remember who) went on to explain how many authors concentrated on rewriting chapter 1 so much that they forgot about the rest of the book. She had been disappointed with how contest finalists (including RWA® Golden Heart® finalists) rush to polish and revise the last two thirds of their book before submitting after a request.
When I write, I do something unconsciously. I’m not a writer who spends a lot of time studying and in workshops. But I do spend a lot of time reading, critiquing, and practicing. In my first book, I gave each turning point a major adventure-high action scene, which made the critical chapters easier to write. “Easier” since high action doesn’t require a lot of introspection. The emotion is still there, just not a lot of self-reflection by my characters.
My second book was different. Lots of action. But each turning point in the book seemed to turn on an emotional dime. And thus the reason for the title of my blog. I wondered what was wrong with chapter 6 for a couple of weeks, unable to pin-point whatever it was. I couldn’t move forward. I remember how hard it was to come back to it day after day. I knew it wasn’t completely right. I just couldn’t determine what was wrong.
I had approached it from the heroine’s frustration level. Amp it up. Tone it down. Change the wording. Change it back. Delete half the chapter. Start again. And finally...one critique partner looked at the hero. Whew...thank goodness. Done. It’s done. I felt like the Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz singing DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD. It’s such an awesome feeling to slay that Chapter 6 Witch!
My point? Do I have one? Aw, yes... It’s not the first chapter, the fourth chapter, or the last that sells a book. It’s every word. Yep. Choosing and critiquing and rewriting and revising and then doing it all over again. ALL of it sells the book. A great story, a great story-teller, and great writing...combine it with perfect timing, an editor who loves the story and you have a sale.
So all you contest junkies out there. Don’t wait! Rework the entire book and don’t wait on that request. BE READY FOR THE REQUEST. Get every word ready for the request. And the sale.