Monday, June 3, 2013

Sock Baskets, Slush Piles, and the Write Match
I wonder if the ‘slush’ pile on a editors desk is anything like my endless sock basket. You know the one?

Twelve hundred white socks that have no apparent match and you wonder if they ever did.

I imagine the slush pile as endless as the sock basket - and about as exhausting. What a job?!?

Which manuscript will be a match for that certain publishing house? Which one will be pulled from the endless mass of white to find a home at the foot of an interested editor? You know the socks that are easiest to match?

Well in my house, it’s the ones with the color coded ‘HANES’ on the bottom.

Blue for my oldest son, green for my middle son, and red for my youngest son. My oldest daughter has purple, my youngest daughter – pink. Big for the adults. Little for the tiny people.

That’s how I find a match (if I’m every going to find one), so…. It makes me wonder, what ‘colors’ pop out to an editor? What grips him, or her, to see if your manuscript is a match for their publishing house?

BLUE – Follow the publisher/editors guidelines when submitting the manuscript. Does this editor or publishing house publish the type of book you write?

GREEN – Begin with a bang. Hook them from the first paragraph. If your socks are going to stand out in the pile, color is a definite PLUS – so take those first few sentences and bring them to life. An editor reads thousands of manuscripts and your first sentences need to be gripping enough to keep the editor reading.

RED – Proper grammar and syntax keep the editor/publisher from being pulled out of your story.

PURPLE – Is the right person telling the story? Point of view? Is it deep point of view? Is the reader drawn into your story or your character’s head?

PINK – Your voice. No, you don’t have to sing. As I write more and more, I’m beginning to understand the phenomenon of the ‘voice of the writer’. It’s a particular ‘tone’ that makes your writing style authentically ‘you’.

BIG – Is the plot interesting? Believable? (I didn’t write possible, there are plenty of plots that are not physically possible (sci fi, fantasy, vampires), but they are written in a way that makes them believable. Is it original and new? If not, does it add a different twist onto an old/familiar plot?

LITTLE – how are your cosmetics in the story? Your descriptions and turns of phrases? Is it a fluid read, with well-placed adjectives and powerful action words? Active voice? What do I do with the socks that don’t match after about the fifth time trying? They find the bottom of my trashcan. As you and I grow as writers, the ‘colors’ of our black and white print will draw more attention, be more meaningful and well written, and hopefully become the perfect match for just the right agent.

Inspirational note: We’re all a work in progress. AND – we’re all drowning in the slushpile. What made us stand out to God that he would pull us from the heap? Nothing.

BUT – His son’s love, written in red, wrote a new story on our hearts and we’re bestseller material now. A NEW creation. When God writes the story for His kids’ lives – they NEVER get a rejection letter :-)

Pepper Basham writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. In the wee small hours of the morning, she spends time talking to her imaginary friends and writing stories about them. She writes a variety of genres, but enjoys sprinkling her native culture of Appalachia in them all.  She currently resides in Johnson City, TN where she works as a university instructor, searches for unique hats to impress her friends, and plots new ways to annoy the wonderful ladies at Seekerville. You can find her on her personal blog, Words Seasoned With Salt¸ or at her group writing blog, The Writers Alley. She is extremely blessed to be represented by 2012 ACFW Agent of the Year, Nicole Resciniti.


J. Hilton Steele said...

Love! And sometimes, we need help because those socks may have holes we don't see but our writing buddies do!

Peace, Julie

Unknown said...

So many awesome points, Pepper, but I love that last one the most. It's SO awesomely true!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Loved your color-coding for a manuscript, and for your kids' socks. Even with only two kids, we have basketsful of mismatched socks. :)

I'm with Melissa, I LOVED your last point. I'm continually amazed that God saw fit to make me His girl. He delights in His children. Amazing.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Okay, seriously!! This is one of my favorite Pepper posts EVER!! Absolutely love the advice here.... especially the spiritual nugget! I love your heart for God. Thanks for the pick me up, today!

Pepper said...

Sorry I'm late to comment, gals.
got in from work -then cooked supper and finally cleaned it up and sat down at the computer :-)

Julie! FANTASTIC point!

Pepper said...

Amen, Melissa.
I think we need a constant reminder about our page in the Big Book of God's redemption :-)
Keeps us in the right POV :-)

Pepper said...

Amen, Melissa.
I think we need a constant reminder about our page in the Big Book of God's redemption :-)
Keeps us in the right POV :-)

Pepper said...

Oh yes, Jeanne.
I'm glad He's called me His girl too! WHAT an amazing blessing!

Pepper said...

Ames, the Encourager!!!
I'll take it! :-)

Joanne Sher said...

You are so stinkin CUTE, Pepper - and I LOVE your points. Every last one of them. SUPER post.

Angie Dicken said...

Oh, Pep...I LOVE the picture!!! And didn't realize it was you at first, and when I did, made me want to run over to AppalACHia and give you a big old hug!! I love your analogies...I am certainly swimming in the slushpile, but know that I am exactly who and where God wants me to be! LOVE this post. :)