There are more writers than there are readers. Bing. That is correct. The Decatur Book Festival was both an inspiring place for all the people there gathered to talk about books, and also a place to remember to be scared, very scared, for the wave of talented writers out there peddling their books to what is becoming a smaller and smaller audience of readers. Beautiful, expensive displays, flashy graphic arts, raw exciting readings, and shiny new covers, but more than a lonely author was sitting in the heat with a pile of unsold books, occasionally answering the only question that the hooked visitor says to get away: “Do you have a version on Kindle?”
But this is not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about what you’ve got to do if you want to be successful…No, never mind that — what you’ve got to do if you want to write really cool stuff that, regardless if only your mother reads it, you’ll be really, really proud that you wrote it. And that’s writers, writers and more writers, Geesh. (The Geesh is optional).
In other words, I’m talking about the importance of writing friends who give a damn. I’m talking about writing friends who will be willing to read your 300 word synopsis five times in a row and who will give you comments that look like this:
“I don’t like the word frothy there.”
“Can you fall into a misadventure?”
“You can get rid of “and” to save words.”
Yes, THAT kind of reader, a reader who will really think about every word. A reader who will let his eyeballs dangle close to the page so his pupils can brush against every comma and period. And that’s not an easy thing to find, my friends. If you have such a friend, make sure you repay the favor. The more the better, because each one will be used up after just one draft, and then if you want to work on that same draft some more you’ll have to find someone with a fresh pair of eyes, someone willing to crunch on every sentence a few times before spitting them out.
Case in point is the synopsis to my novel The Faithful Son. I sent it out after only one reader. Bad idea. Four rejections. So I worked on it some more and had two more readers weigh in. After their final approval on my revisions, I sent out a new wave of submissions. More rejections. Then a sneaking suspicion…three more writers read the synopsis, all of them finding new things to critique, new problems to consider.
I queried about seven friends, six of them professional writers. Every one of them helped me get a little closer to perfect. And I wish I had more eagle-eyed friends to help. As the old song goes, “too much is never enough.”
If you’re an aspiring writer, find more writers, and more writers, get as many buddies as you can, sign up for every writing circle that will take you. You’ll need every reader you can find.
For your reading enjoyment, here is the draft in question. And if you feel generous, feel free to comment.
Synopsis: The Faithful Son
(366 words – I need to lose 60 more words)
The Faithful Son is a wholly original factually-based interpretation of Gilgamesh the myth and the historical king.
It’s 2,800 BC. A wild man roams the high planes of the Zagros in a lion’s skin, poaching traps set by nomadic tribesmen. A group of hunters catch him poaching, but during the confrontation a storm breaks out and they disperse. Afterwards, one man turns up dead and mutilated.
The tribesmen blame the murder on a mythical monster, but a boy who saw the poacher is out to prove otherwise. He journeys to the city of Kish in search of justice, but his innocence propels him into a political trap. He narrowly escapes death when a mysterious woman intervenes on his behalf and leads others to believe he may be the king’s bastard son. The king of Kish then gives the boy three years to prove himself or die.
Meanwhile, the wild man comes upon a tavern where a woman recognizes him as Gilgamesh, the cursed prince of Uruk. The maid warns Gilgamesh that his city needs him, but Gilgamesh, weary and damaged, wants at first only to forget and be forgotten.
Soon, however, his mother, the queen of Uruk, locates him and has him abducted before his enemies can get to him. Safe at home Gilgamesh nonetheless suffers from paranoid visions. Seductive, exuberant, and fiery, he makes an enemy of the high priestess by refusing to take part in a sacred sex ritual that would confirm her power. He then attempts to regain clout and to resist Kishite sovereignty, using the rumors that once destroyed him to build himself into a god. But is he merely a fabulous trickster, or did something extraordinary happen to him while in exile? Even he isn’t sure whether he’s possessed by a demon, or whether he’s just the victim of a broken mind.
As Kish marches on Uruk, freedom will hinge on Gilgamesh’s ability to persuade others, and himself, that he is a godly king — but Kish has a dangerous trump. The boy, loyal and sworn to Kish, is the key to a secret Gilgamesh is willing to protect whatever the cost.