Shaping the Idea

A writer thinkingIt must have rained heavily overnight. Large puddles had gathered on the corners of the roads, and our back garden gleamed with droplets on all the trees, the smell of an early morning dew rampant when I went out to feed the rabbits.

And still I coughed, sniffed, and spluttered my way into the day job as always. Spring is on its way though, which is going to be most welcome when it comes.

I completed Scotland’s Treasure and sent in off to my editor at The Scruffy Dog Review; three mini reviews, and none concerning live music – theatre, ballet, and comedy – surely a first?

I ran through another draft of my next DWT article, but have stalled somewhat with my next batch for TLB. I may need to go back to the drawing board and start again – which won’t be good – the deadline is Monday. Lots of work is impending over the weekend to get this complete.

I started piecing together April’s newsletter, and also started writing up March’s GDR review. Almost a quarter of the year is gone already, so it’s a good time to look at where I am overall.

Did a lot of work on RR submissions; a few acceptances, but most of them rejections. I am sick and tired of folk messing around after they have had an acceptance. I’ve had two writers do the following in the past week: they submitted a few poems last month, and after I had accepted the ones I wanted, I got an email from them to say, “well actually, you can’t have that one any more – somewhere else got it first.”

I have nothing in my remit to say this can’t happen, and I do accept simultaneous submissions (for a good reason), but it is a total pain in the arse for me when the work is put into my publishing system (which over the past few months has had to grow quickly inline with my learning curve), only for it to be pulled by the writer. Removing work from the system wasn’t something I envisaged, and it gets really awkward having to back work out from publication once it is up.

So – I’m getting stricter. It’s the only way because I don’t have time to fanny about due to other writers’ lack of manners. I’m a writer, too, and I’m trying to get work published, not to mention earn a living.

I’m also introducing a publishing contract on the advice of Ralan (from, which while isn’t 100% legal proof, will cover me and protect my other writers more. So, if you are reading this and have had work accepted for issues 3 and beyond, you can expect an email from me with a contract attached very soon.

After the lovely relaxing bath I had last night, I decided to have another tonight. While in it, I started reading Evan Marshall’s, Novel Writing – 16 Steps to Success. The first chapter dealt with the reality of writing; what to expect, measuring success, what genre to write, earning a living, etc., which was old hat for me. I answered these questions years ago, so I scanned through most of it.

The second chapter dealt with shaping ideas; where they come from, developing them, and turning them into high level concepts. A lot of this wasn’t new to me either, in that the ideas put forward I already do. Things like borrowing ideas and adapting from real life, dreams, family and workplace stories, newspapers, etc.

What I did take from this chapter was how agents view how a novel idea is presented to them. If the idea is based on a conflict that is compelling with a strong hook, and that can be built up and around, the writer is on the right track. The other side of the fence is fascinating but monstrous – as all big business is – so understanding it is important.

I applied the criteria it specified to Hunting Jack, Slick, and Gatecrash, and so far, all of them have met all the points. Funnily enough, though, A Friend To Die For doesn’t, which might go some way to explaining why it still languishes unfinished in my ON HOLD directory.

About Colin Galbraith

Keen runner, thriller author, Madness fan, Mets fan, St Mirren fan/owner, rabbit tamer, outstanding fake faller. Loves cannolis & espressos. #LFGM
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