WELCOME TO A NEW YEAR OF WRITING
The Events and Education Committee is working on scheduling a year's worth of events, talks and classes based on the recent SCWA member survey. Thanks for your suggestions. You'll hear more about our plans in a few weeks.
A few things are clear. Our members are interested in writing and marketing and publishing. They want to hear from accomplished authors and agents, and they're interested in all writing genres – nonfiction, thrillers, YA, children's books and literary fiction among them. We'll handle those requests in several ways, including monthly posts in The Quill.
Here’s the first E&E tip. It's a new year. What better way to launch 2023 than to heed the advice of literary agent and mystery writer Paula Munier, who knows a thing or two about new starts. She's the author of The Writer's Guide to Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings That Sell. I heard Munier speak at a Writer's Digest conference in New York City.
Here’s what she had to say.
Want an agent to read your manuscript? Hook them in the first few paragraphs. Agents read hundreds – even thousands – of manuscripts a year. If a book isn't working, they know it after just a few pages.
The good news? You can avoid early rejection by following Munier's advice.
Munier listed the Top 10 reasons she stops reading a submission:
Good novels, of course, spark a different response. The level of craft is high. There's a strong voice. The story is fresh. "The writer," Munier says, "has gained my confidence."
- Nothing happens.
- She's seen it before.
- The book lacks a strong voice. If you have a strong voice, agents and editors are willing to overlook other shortcomings.
- She doesn't connect with the protagonist. "Give us some likable characters. We fall in love with Holden Caulfield, Bridget Jones."
- She can't tell what kind of story she's reading. Is it a romance? Literary fiction? Historical novel?
- She doesn't care what happens next.
- The plot is unbelievable and cliché-ridden.
- There are too many characters. Time is short. Who can keep up?
- The dialogue doesn't sound real.
- The manuscript is full of typos and grammatical errors. "If an editor or agent sees a misspelled word – it stops us cold."
VP/Events and Education