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Showing posts from 2023

The Pub Board - Your Best Friend and Worst Enemy

So your agent has finally found a sympathetic editor for your wondrously impatient manuscript? And they work at a major publishing house, imprint, or press. Now you think you're in tight? Whooo! Think again . The obstacle course has just begun. Your credentials and manuscript are facing the gauntlet of THE PUB BOARD!  The what?   A group of chair-bound editors and professional types at the press who down or up their thumbs for the stack of proposals sitting in front of them ; and it varies from place to place, but more often than not, the pub board meets once a month. They include the specific editor who is a fan of your manuscript, of course, but what about other players and professions? Let's back up for a second. Pre-pub board editorial meetings can occur for the purpose of winnowing forth the absolute best proposals , thereby giving the editors a running start before sales and marketing weigh in to potentially cast doubts. And let's face it, if this group of edi

Thoughts on Pitching a Memoir to New York - A True Story

Several times a year I'll receive an email from a memoir writer wanting to know if attending one of our writer events is worth it. The answer is always a mixed bag depending on several factors; however, for purposes of meaningful sample, I've decided to include a recent response to a concerned memoir writer who inquired about the potential of the Write to Pitch Conference to sell her project.

How Not to Get Blacklisted by the Publishing Business

By Chris Stewart As someone who organizes readings and a large literary arts festival with workshops, author appearances, and exhibitors, I have developed a list of writers who I will not work with again. And rest assured, I’m not the only one who does this. Why? Because they didn’t follow directions. It’s that simple. Who's on it? Writers who acted like the organizer/staff were their personal assistant/manager.  Take note of the following ways to avoid this blacklist and be a true professional! KNOW YOUR OWN SCHEDULE Double booking is such a big no-no we can’t believe you’re not aware of this already yourself. Whatever you have to do to make sure you know the days you are already booked: DO IT. Back out of our event at the last minute because you “forgot” you already had a gig? You’re on the list. SEND THE REQUIRED INFORMATION It should be no surprise to you that we need your bio and right away—possibly a short one and a long one. We also need a hig

IMPORTANT: Coverage Checklist for Aspiring Authors

Note, MARKET VALUE FIRST... Listed below are a summation of "coverage" checkpoints utilized by various screenplay and novel ms readers in both Hollywood and New York. Not every publisher intern or assistant will necessarily employ all these categories (a mistake), however, they're a great checklist for you, the aspiring author, to help ascertain whether or not you're meeting your goals for a successful commercial genre novel. MARKET VALUE: Originality, freshness - high concept Clear target readership? Hook Quality STRUCTURE:     Act Zero backstory development Exposition delivery Effective setup with inciting incident Plot line arc, and subplots (if appropriate) Well designed reversals (major and minor) Pinch points (at least two) Catalytic situation driven Conflict, tension, rising action, Every scene relevant (i.e., to driving plot forward) Effective, believable climax Resolution/Denouement CHARACTERS: Antagonist Quality and Role Consistent opp

The Enlightenment of Tragedy - Dramatic Art Primer

Before the novel, there was drama... Ancient dramatists understood the requirements of a good tale, one in which willful human beings engaged in major conflict, the goal being to possess or achieve something of value. A designated character, by virtue of position and personality, became the antagonist, naturally defying the efforts of the protagonist, or hero, to overcome. This basic conflict scenario resurfaces again and again in a myriad of forms, not only in life, but in novels, short stories, and of course, film and television. What makes true dramatic conflict so universally effective is not only its ability to create tension, suspense, and powerful characters, but its unique method for portraying the need for value in human existence. Below we've created a drama primer with quotes ("European Theories of the Drama") from three important dramatists to illustrate the nature of the drama and it's overwhelming relevancy to novel writing discussion here at WE.

A Great Damp Loaf of Description - Experiments in Fictional Imagery

Prepared for appropriate frustration and tapped out fingers? Using our favorite "stand on the shoulders of the classics" approach, we're going to examine the role of detailed character description when it comes to enhancing prose narrative. We've touched on this previously with our High Impact Narrative article and a caboose of Enhancement via Nabokov , but we're not done yet. Let's look at various examples and techniques. A GREAT DAMP LOAF  From Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News":  "A great damp loaf of a body. At six he weighed eighty pounds. At sixteen he was buried under a casement of flesh. Head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair ruched back. Features as bunched as kissed fingertips. Eyes the color of plastic. The monstrous chin, a freakish shelf jutting from the lower face." Note that Proulx first makes a single statement of character impression before moving on to details, i.e., "A great damp loaf of a bo

OMG! Offended Writer Syndrome!

Have you ever been in writer workshops and reacted to criticism of your writing or story by demanding the other writer defend their decision in such detail that it served your purpose of making certain they never gave you unfavorable critique again? Hell hath no fury like a thin-skinned narcissist with a needy manuscript... But wait! Could you be one of them? In case you're not sure if your skin qualifies, Algonkian psychologists have developed a few skin test questions below. Feel free to respond honestly to yourself as you read each one. Everyone wishes to avoid time-wasting instances of Offended Writer Syndrome (OWS) that often takes place in writer workshops all across America. Even at this very moment! Now, time to take THE THIN SKIN TEST : Has any writer ever prefaced their critique of your work by first saying to you, "Don't hate me, please?" Do you sense that writers who unfavorably critique your work are "loa