Monday, July 11, 2016

The road to publication

How long did it take for you to become an overnight sensation? (How many days/months/years after you began seriously writing a novel did it take for you to get published?

by Meredith Cole

I am really an accidental novelist. I was a filmmaker/screenwriter for years. I directed several feature films and made my living writing ads for cable television shows. But the birth of my son forced me to reevaluate my career. I wanted to spend time with my baby without completely abandoning my creativity. Since I love to read novels, it seemed natural to write one myself.

I tried to write literary fiction occasionally when a story wasn't right for the screen, but I got bogged down in the character's thoughts and found that nothing was happening. So when a friend suggested writing a mystery novel set in the neighborhood where we lived, I thought it sounded like fun. Turns out it was just as hard as everything else I tried to write--but it made more sense to me. Mystery novels have strong three act structures (kill someone, look for the murderer, catch the murderer), and that really resonated with my screenwriting background. The first book took several years to write.

I joined Sisters in Crime and stumbled into a wonderful writing group in Brooklyn. They gently told me everything that was wrong with my first novel. The plot mostly. But I loved the characters and got a great idea for a better plot. So I wrote the next book in less than a year, and it was better. And then I started to take my new career seriously. I started sending out my book to contests and to agents, and I entered the St. Martin's Malice Domestic Best Traditional Novel Competition (which I won).

So how long from starting the book to actually holding my published book in my hand? About 6 years (since it took 2 years for St. Martin's Minotaur to create a book from my manuscript). But the journey and the adventures continue!


Unknown said...

Screenwriting must be a great base for writing a novel, because it's all about visuals and dialogue and keeping things spare. One day I'd like to try a script as an exercise and experience. :)

Susan C Shea said...

I'm going to take Aaron Sorkin's online screenwriting class, not because I think I have a new career waiting for me but because I think it will help my novel writing. Didn't realize your illustrious film resume - impressive!