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Showing posts from September, 2020

Does the Pitch Tail Wag the Novel Dog?

Recently, in a post by Algonkian veteran Liz Brody on her blog , the subject of query letters and pitches came up yet again. What she seems to grasp is that you can't have a good pitch or query without a good novel to back it up. Does that go without saying?  It should.  But if so, why do thousands of writers send out dull or bad queries, and pitch agents or editors with novels that don't stand a chance? If you follow a model for a good pitch, i.e., a 150-200 word punchy synopsis-like summary that produces the first major plot point but doesn't give away the climax, and you're sufficiently self-critical, you should finally come to an understanding of the worth of your project. Keep in mind that by forcing your story into that specific model, by forcing yourself to "fill in the blanks" so to speak, you're inevitably led to understand the major strengths and weaknesses in the novel itself. For example, if the body of the pitch, once heard or read, evide

Narrative Enhancement Via Nabokov

A snapshot below from the Algonkian Writer Conference Competitive Fiction Guide on the subject of learning the craft of narrative enhancement from a variety of successful authors. This example features Nabokov. Nabokov’s narrative in  Lolita  pushes forward largely due to his gift for discerning meaning and detail in everyday life (which is necessary since Humbert H. is a hard character to cheer on) and reporting it with the flair of a phenomenal writer. Basically, however, you can break Nabokov’s categories into observations, ruminations, and fantasy.  Here we see examples as Humbert wanders a department story looking to buy underwear for Lolita: Narrator observes the behavior and quirks of others:  "The painted girl in black who attended to all these poignant needs of mine turned parental scholarship and precise description into commercial euphemisms, such as  petite . Another, much older woman in a white dress, with a pancake make-up, seemed to be oddly impressed by