Bits and pieces of things that caught my eye not only for my own interest, but enough to want to share with you, too…
Amongst all the talk about “diversity” in publishing, SC points out that the white faces of publishing still put a “white glaze” on what is acceptable. A book can’t be too angry or critical or verging on “disrespecting” of white populations… so are we getting it, yet, even as we work towards an #ownvoices movement. SC says, “I guess my point is, do agents support diverse ideas or do they support diverse faces speaking the same White ideas?” I’d say it is only the latter right now.
Agent Kristin Nelson and Angie Hodapp have started a 9-part series about what to avoid in story openings. If the writing thing is newer to you, I highly recommend following the whole series. For me, though, #2 resonated with me as they focused on what they called the “white room syndrome” – basically starting with no setting. Maybe starting with action is good, but readers also need to feel grounded in the when and where of it all. I liked this analogy they made: “Character is to Voice as Setting is to Atmosphere.”
In writing, we place a lot of emphasis on voice. When you pick up another book by your favorite author, is it the story itself you most anticipate? Maybe, but I’d argue that voice is it and you recognize it right away even if you don’t have the words to describe it. When I started reading this post from Writer Unboxed in my RSS feed earlier this week, I hadn’t looked right away to see who wrote it. After only a paragraph, though, I didn’t have to. I knew it was by agent Donald Maas. All of that is not directly related to what he wrote about – which is how to inspire wonder in your writing (and worth the read as he describes what he means by this and ever useful suggestions) – but is absolutely something he has written about in the past. I gravitate towards his voice and his many words of wisdom.
Sometimes, a set of characters, a world, or a story just won’t let you go. The WIP I am working on right now is one such example. It was my first novel and the characters and their world are so much a part of me that I continue to work with it and refuse to believe it needn’t ever be exposed to the world. Because of this, I can totally relate to Vaughn Roycroft’s mindset in describing how no, we don’t *have* to diversify our writing into different genres or settings. Sometimes, the strength is in monogamy for both writer and reader.
While I appreciated the point behind this post of showing the value of a great author-literary agent relationship, I really threw this link in here because of the series that has come from this particular collaboration: a Little Library murder mystery theme! Looks like fun.
Agents frequently talk about comp titles to include in query letters. What other book is your book like? This can mean, of course, style, story, or character. What they always say is to avoid using the HUGE names to compare to: JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King, Lee Child, etc, because not only, say, ego, but not necessarily widely read or current, either. Danika Ellis, though, gives a great reader perspective specifically about not being “the next Harry Potter”. She says, “How much more would I have enjoyed The Magicians by Lev Grossman if I wasn’t expecting an “adult Harry Potter”, as the marketing promised?” Indeed – show us how it is new, not the same.
Song of the Week:
Oldest Child just got his driver’s license, so I’m going with a car song. 😀