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Archetype Writing: The Book & Work In Progress Weds

Nonfiction: 

I can't stand it anymore, I have to tell you what I'm working on.  I am writing a book based on the same idea as the Archetype site: a guide to help writers get the psychology right in their fiction! The book will have far greater breadth than the site, and go into much more depth to help you get the details right in your stories.  I don't have a publication date for you yet, but I do have a due date from the publisher, so I'm working hard to get it ready!

Right now I am working on a chapter that includes details on therapist training and ethics.  Might not sound crucial at first glance, but a lot of writers get tripped up by these areas -- especially ethics.  I recently read The Reach by horror author Nate Kenyon, and he does a really good job writing about one main character's diagnosis and institutionalization; unfortunately, he doesn't do such a good job writing about his therapist-in-training.  Students progress through school and therapy training in steps that are pretty consistent from school to school, but nobody in the book pays any heed to those steps.  Worse, nobody in the book seems disturbed by some pretty flagrant violations of the normal training process and ethical code.  The problem, of course, is that the author didn't understand the steps most therapists follow as they're trained, or (in many cases) when he was portraying ethical violations.

If you have any thoughts or questions about training or ethics, now would be great time to ask -- your questions will help me make sure I cover the information you need for your story.  (Feel free to ask questions or make comments on other areas you'd like to see covered as well.)

Some people have asked me about the process for selling nonfiction, so I'm going to tell you just a little bit about it.

Selling Nonfiction

In most cases, when you want to sell a nonfiction book, you write a proposal rather than completing the full manuscript, the way you do for fiction. A proposal introduces the agent or editor to the book idea, compares it to books currently on the market, and sells the reader on the idea that this new book is needed. Because author involvement is crucial in today's book market, the proposal includes a marketing section explaining what the author plans to do to build publicity. Finally, the bulk of the proposal is made up of a chapter-by-chapter outline.

I have several books on proposal writing, but the ones I found most helpful were How to Write a Book Proposal and Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why. (Other people swear by Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody can Write and The Fast Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal.)

Fiction:

I'm pretty discouraged with my NaNo project. If I were going for a paranormal romance, heavy on the romance, I might be okay, but I want there to be more to it than that.  I'm kind of bored with it at that level.  It's slowly becoming clearer to me that I need more tension, higher stakes, and probably more angst.  So I think I need to develop some darker backstories for my characters.

It's so frustrating.  I've never had a novel come in such fits and starts and give me such fits in the process.  Anybody had any experience having to go back in and build dark backstories?  I'm sure some advice would help me!

6 Comments:

  1. Annie said...
    I wish I had a thought or question about training or ethics, but I don't. I am excited about your book, though! I haven't seen one like it on the writing shelves, and I am pretty familiar with those shelves.

    As for angsty back stories, maybe one of your characters could have once gone on a shooting rampage. Those seem to be all the rage right now (hmm, no pun intended).

    My 2005 NaNo novel was pretty boring with a lot of circular crap happening, and then two years later I was sightseeing caves in Kentucky when I suddenly realized my main character's back story. And it was pretty dark and complicated (at least, I hope so). I didn't continue the novel until NaNo 2008 (you were there!).

    So I guess my advice is, maybe you need to sit on it for a long while.
    Bobby said...
    I tried it but the stories i added looked like a purple patch. I become more convinced that a novel isn't something that can be fixed if it don't work. (as you say "we need more tension").

    Now I would either rewrite the whole work, or throw it away.
    Christine Fonseca said...
    I am so excited about your NF book...be sure to keep us posted. As for the novel - I hate it when things happen that way. I am sure you'll go back, read the story and the necessary backstory elements will come to you - just stay true to the characters "voice" and you'll find their angst. (Pretend they are clients - they always present their good side at first...you just gotta scratch below the surface) :)
    Angela said...
    This is a very timely post as Becca and I are readying a proposal for a Thesaurus Collection based on out blog content. I'll have to look up some of those books you mentioned--thank you!

    Good luck on your own NF project--this site is amazing, so I can only imagine how awesome your book will be. :-)
    Kate Karyus Quinn said...
    I am a slow first drafter, so I don't know that I've ever had to go back and add in that level of detail, but maybe if you just take a break or get some fresh eyes on it you will have a breakthrough. And if you ever need a new reader, you know how to reach me;)
    Tara Maya said...
    Your nf book sounds awesome. Keep us posted on how it's going.

    As for the fiction, I don't know enough about it to be specific, but I think it's definitely possible to go in during revisions and up the ante. Just a few changes can make a big difference.

    Version One: Couple sits at table in restaurant, talks about their relationship.

    Version Two: Villain hides a bug in the flower vase. Minutes later, couple sits at table in restaurant, talks about their relationship.

    Version Three: Villain tapes a bomb to the underside of the table. Minutes later, couple sits at table in restaurant, talks about their relationship.

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