Know Your Story’s Selling Points (and the Obstacles to Selling Your Story)
Selling stories is not much different than selling anything else. As a writer turned acquisitions editor and now literary agent, I learned that the hard way. It’s not enough to write a great story; to sell that story, you have to be able to milk its selling points and...
What Do Writers Want? Goal Setting for Scribblers and Other Creatives
Setting and meeting your goals for your life as a career author doesn’t have to be a SMART formula that smacks of the Human Resources Department. If SMART works for you, then great. But if such a linear, corporate approach leaves you cold (as it does me), here are some looser, livelier ways to map out a career strategy for you as a writer.
BEYOND WHAT IF?: Four plot hacks that really work
When it comes to plotting, the conventional wisdom is to play the “What If?” game. When your “What If?” well has run dry, try one of these plot hacks:
Seven Ways to Jumpstart Your Imagination
New year, new ideas! We’re all planning our writing for 2023 now, but we need to make sure that we prime the pump throughout the year. Here are seven ways to jumpstart your imagination that you can write right into your calendar:
READING: A Writer’s Best and Most Constant Muse
As an agent, author, and former acquisitions editor, I’m always stunned when aspiring writers tell me that they don’t have time to read (don’t ever say that, it’s a red flag, seriously). Writers read, and good writers read a lot. (That’s why agents and editors will often ask you what you’re reading and/or start a conversation about books, to see if you walk the talk.) If you need any more motivation, here’s a round-up of famous authors on the importance of reading for writers.
We Do Need Another Hero: Writers on Heroes, Heroines, and Heroism
We are a people in search of a hero, always. And readers are a people in search of a heroine, always. One of the biggest problems I see in manuscripts—confirmed by editors when they pass on projects—is the protagonist. Your protagonist should be compelling and...
5 Ways to Impress an Agent
Getting an agent can be a challenge. Given the sheer volume of queries agents receive—such largesse that many agents find it impossible to accept unsolicited queries—it’s not easy to make you and your project stand out. Here are some tips to help you to capture an...
13 Ways to Maximize Your Writing Pleasure
For me, the worst part is the first draft, which is always somewhat of a slog. I love it and dread it at the same time. It’s like running a marathon when you’ve forgotten how to run. But you haven’t really, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Bird by bird.
When I remember this, the writing is not quite so hard. And I am reminded that writing is not all angst and adverbs. Sometimes it’s actually—dare I say it—fun. There are undeniable pleasures, however fleeting or abstruse or just plain unfathomable to Other People (non-writers) they may be. Keeping them in mind can help us enjoy the writing process more, even on those days when we struggle to make our word count.
The next time you sit down to write, notice—and applaud!—when you…
10 Things Not to Say to an Agent When You Pitch Your Project
It’s conference season again, that wonderful time of year when we agents listen to hundreds of pitches—some good, some bad, and some ugly. Here’s what not to say. (And yes, these are real lines from real-life pitches.) #1 My villain is so bad he kills the dog. It’s...
The Daring Writer’s Guide to Point of View
Point of view issues keep more otherwise sellable authors from selling their work than nearly any other problem. That’s why as an agent, author, and writing teacher, I always caution my clients, fellow writers, and students to play it safe when it comes to POV. And yet every once in a while I come across a story whose author threw caution to the wind so splendidly I am tempted to play around with point of view myself. If you find yourself so inclined, read on.
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