Monday, June 04, 2007

JK: Rue

Today I spent some time writing an email to a new writer asking for an endorsement for a first novel. I shouldn’t agree to do this. It takes time. I’m always on my own deadline. But I did. And I had to write to say I couldn’t endorse the book. The writer has good talent in my opinion. A great grasp of description, a worthy premise for the novel. But I found myself skipping the descriptions to find out what happened to the characters. It was an eye opener for me because I find myself having to cut ruthlessly the very things I saw in this book. If I didn’t cut it, my editors would. Nothing that doesn’t support the three questions of the story can be there and that’s painful at times.

It did remind me that I was fortunate to have fine editors who in the very beginning wrote things in the margin of my manuscript like “Let’s hurry along here” when my characters mused a bit too much or when I got lost in the valley of beautiful words. Another editor wrote “RUE” which comes from the Browne and King book Self-editing for Fiction Writers. It means “resist the urge to explain.” Ah yes. So that’s also a part of this revision process, and having the chance to read someone else’s work that I thought might benefit from RUE gave me pause. I’ve been fortunate. My editors, I think, have been good ones. They actually edit. I’m grateful, even if it does mean that the letters for “delete” have been worn off my keyboard.

Jane Kirkpatrick Join her there or on her website or at


At 9:32 AM, Blogger Erica Vetsch said...

Could you explain what the three questions of the story are?


At 11:09 AM, Blogger Joanna B. said...

As a new writer I'm a little troubled by the frequent complaint I hear from established writers, that is: "I don't have time to write endorsements, I'm too busy. I should just say no."

I do understand the pressure of deadlines and the necessity of avoiding over-commitments. However, wasn't every successful writer once a "nobody"? Maybe I'll have a different attitude when/if I ever become prolific, but I hope I am never too busy to pause and help another aspiring author, even if it's in a small way.

I once thanked a Charis author for taking the time to read a few chapters for me. Her response continues to ring in my ears..."Just do the same for someone else someday."

At 7:26 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

LOL - that's one of my crit partner's favorite sayings! I've gotten quite good at avoiding that urge. RUE is something I never want to see again on one of my subs. :o)

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think we must keep in mind that just because a certain author says no to helping us, doesn't mean they're not helping lots of other folks. We must all draw the line somewhere or no writing would get done, thus no contracts, no food, forced to live in a box with a pile of grubby mansuscripts which still won't be endorsed because they must now be burned for warmth ...

Great post. Praise God for good editors!

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Jane said...

Hi ERica, The three questions to answer for me are 1)what's my intention? 2)What's my attitude (what do I feel deeply about) and 3)What's my purpose, how do I hope a reader might be changed in telling this story. These are from STructuring the Novel by Meredith and Fitzgerald and I try to write answers to these three questions before I begin to write. Does that help? I think I'd mentioned it on my website but failed to mention it here so thanks for asking for clarification.

Joanna, I understand your being troubled by my reluctance to take time to write endorsements. I do a lot of mentoring of new authors and as noted, I did read this work, which is what takes the time. I don't feel write about endorsing something I haven't read. I'm researching and writing and revising and have deadlines that a great many people are counting on me to meet so that's when I say "I shouldn't do this." Catch me in between one of those deadlines and I'll happily read and endorse and do. When the work is something I feel I CAN'T endorse, that's what creates my angst. Someone else would probably love the work and be able to do that so I feel like the author has lost valuable time in asking me; and that makes me feel sad. So it isn't not wanting to help another author; it's in the timing. Your Charis author's advice is good advice and you'll do the same for someone else one day; and I have too.

Thanks, Anne about RUE and thanks
Gina for your good words, too. Keep writing, all of you. Warmly, Jane


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