Archive for the 'Book Talk' Category

Flog a Pro: would you turn this bestselling author’s first page?

Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page.

The challenge: does this narrative compel you to turn the page?

Please judge by storytelling quality, not by genre—some reject an opening page immediately because of genre, but that’s not a good [...]

Let it Go

I have two daughters, ages 5 and 7, which means– as people with similarly aged daughters will probably tell you– that we like the movie Frozen in our house.  A lot.  We do not even have a television, and I have still heard the signature song Let it Go so many times that I click my teeth to it while folding laundry.  My husband absent-mindedly whistles it while writing computer code.  If my 8 mos. old opened his mouth and [...]

Take Five: The Caller by Juliet Marillier

U.S. cover for The Caller

Congratulations to WU contributor Juliet Marillier on the upcoming U.S. release (Sept. 9th) of her latest novel, The Caller! We’re happy she’s with us today to answer a few questions in a WU Take Five interview.

We’re also pleased to tell you that Juliet will be giving away a hard-back copy of The Caller to a randomly chosen commenter for this post, to be shipped later in September to anywhere in the world.

Without further ado, our [...]

Your Repertory Company of Characters

three furies by mandy greer

Gore Vidal famously said that every writer has a repertory company of players. He thought Shakespeare had about fifty, Hemingway only one, and himself around ten.

I found this quote while pulling together material for Writing Romantic Fiction and it has been swirling around in my mind ever since. If all writers have a repertory company, then I must have one, too. On a flight one morning, I drank coffee and stared out the window at [...]

Reading Synesthesia

Last month I caught what can only be titled The Stomach Virus from the Damnable Pit of Hades. Yes, it earned the superfluous moniker. But don’t worry—this isn’t a post about my gastrointestinal woes. I’ll spare you those details. I mention it because it was the first time I’d ever experienced synesthesia of the body and more significantly, of books.

I’d read about this phenomenon in my Writer Unboxed sister Therese Walsh’s novel The Moon Sisters. So I felt I had [...]

Flog a Pro: would you turn this bestselling author’s first page?

Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page.

The challenge: does this narrative compel you to turn the page?

Please judge by storytelling quality, not by genre—some reject an opening page immediately because of genre, but that’s not a good [...]

Better than They Know Themselves

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

~ Henry David Thoreau (Walden)

____________

Most readers and writers agree: the most memorable part of a story is usually not the plot, but the characters. It follows that as writers, we need to know our characters very well. And if we do our jobs, by the end of the book the reader will know our characters very well, too.

But something I haven’t [...]

Flog a Pro: would you turn this bestselling author’s first page?

Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page.

The challenge: does this narrative compel you to turn the page?

Flog the first page of this bestselling author’s newest novel. Please judge by storytelling quality, not by genre—there are folks who [...]

Drawing from Real Life in Fiction

Unlike many people I know, I’ve never wanted to write the story of my life. And I’ve come to belatedly believe that this lack of autobiographic desire on my part has affected my fiction writing, and not necessarily for the best.

I say “belatedly” because I’ve been writing fiction for close to 15 years, but only a few years ago did I start to readjust what I now see as a rather closed and negative mindset I’d been maintaining.

In the past, [...]

The Perplexing Problem of Romance

I spent much of the winter and spring writing a non-fiction project, Writing Romantic Fiction, which will be published in November by Hachette/Macmillan. I was approached to do the project some time ago, and agreed to do it because it seemed like it would be a good exercise for me, and because it’s good to have something to offer at workshops.

What I didn’t realize is how much soul-searching it would trigger, both about process and how it works and why [...]

Flog a Pro: would you turn this bestselling author’s first page?

Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page.

The challenge: does this narrative compel you to turn the page?

Storytelling Checklist

While it’s not a requirement that all of these 6 storytelling ingredients be on the first page, I think writers [...]

Because Size Matters: McKee’s Four Tips on Writing a Big Story

You know how certain types of feedback get under your skin like road rash, so that months or years later the grit is still working its way to the surface? Well, eons ago, as she contemplated a novel I’d set in my province, a critique partner sent me metaphorically skidding on the asphalt in a pair of Daisy Dukes.

The comment she dropped  which I found so distressing? “I think this would appeal to readers outside of Canada.” (Meaning, as I [...]