I have some exciting news this week. After years of running the writing race, I was offered representation from literary agent Stephen Fraser with the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency! I couldn't be more thrilled, and more shocked, and more scared, and more happy. I've been working for so long to get an agent, and now I've leaped over that hurdle, my eyes firmly set on the finish line ahead. Hopefully not too far ahead.
I met Stephen Fraser for the second time this August in Los Angeles at the SCBWI Summer Conference. He was selected as the agent to give a critique of my writing. After an extremely positive discussion, in which I explained that I was in the middle of revisions on this particular piece, he told me to send the full manuscript to him as soon as I was ready to have another set of eyes on it. He said it didn't have to be perfect. Now, the rest is history.
I've been around long enough to know that getting an agent is not the same as selling a book. It's just one important step along the way. But because of this step, this hurdle, I can really focus on my writing, and let Mr. Fraser do the rest.
I've always been a plotter. I spend weeks or months planning and plotting and outlining and sketching and bullet point listing before I ever even start writing the story. Then, when I'm 'ready' I start to write. I've always felt like this worked for me. I like to have things lined up before I dive in. I'm a toe dipper in the cold lake too. So when I started plotting out my most recent novel, I got sort of stuck.
I'd been thinking about my main character for a long time. I'd written a few sketches of her. I knew where her strengths were, and her faults and weaknesses. I had a fairly clear picture of what her arc of change would be. The problem was, I didn't know the events of a 'story' to get her there. But this character just kept pulling on me, wanting me to write about her. So I did.
I started writing. Without a plot. Without an outline. Well, I sort of had one, but I knew going in that is was weak. I knew that there wasn't enough happening. I knew the story would never work unless I came up with more action and excitement and adventure. And I knew I didn't have that yet. But I started writing anyway.
An amazing thing happened. As I wrote about Sal, the story plot revealed itself. I knew exactly what was going to happen in the story to bring her traveling along her arc. I'd actually written four chapters before I realized what the external plot would be. I had to go back and insert it into those early chapters of course, but it worked. A plotter like me actually did a little bit of pantsing.
Here's what else is amazing. I love this book. I love this character. I feel like as the writer, I understand her at a level I never have. I feel like I let her tell her story, instead of me forcing a story onto her. Maybe it's all part of my progression as a writer, but I feel like I've turned a corner in how I craft a book, and in how I understand a character.
These baby steps of progress for me create leaps of progress for my work.
Writing for children is a passion - along with reading kid's books, writing plays for kids, and teaching kids how to write!