Saturday, December 20, 2008

Spotlight on...Writing Stuff

First, a heads up from ChristaCarol about an agent who is gifting writers with the chance to have their pitch critiqued. I submitted my paragraph in the growing number of comments, and am hoping I get chosen for a crit. Either way, it was fun, and reading others' descriptions of their mss was interesting too. Even if you aren't ready to start querying yet, it's a fun exercise that might help you get your book's plot down more concisely.

Since I'm in the mood for writing as the New Year and new opportunities loom, here are some tips from NYT best selling authors I heard speak at a conference about six months ago ~~

  • Publisher's Lunch was recommended as a good site to join if you want to keep abreast of what's happening in the publishing world.
  • Craft a "log line" or "tag line" for your novel. This is a short one-sentence blurb that gives agents/publishers a feel for your book immediately. [Example: "When Sally Met Harry meets the Hulk."]
  • Especially if you're writing mystery or suspense, throw in a few red herrings, but don't forget to resolve them at some point. This adds depth and interest to your plot.
  • Spoon feed your readers the back story slowly as you move forward instead of dumping too much right up front.
  • If you're stuck in a scene, try brainstorming 10 things that could happen. This may reveal new paths to you.
  • Having 3-5 scenes per chapter is a good rule of thumb.
  • Never change the POV during a single scene.
  • Make sure your characters aren't just talking heads. Move them from place to place and room to room.
  • If possible, have an editor go over your ms before querying.
  • Save the cliches for dialog.
  • Not every line of dialog needs to have a tag ("he said," "she whispered," "Margo replied.")
  • Always give your readers credit for being smart. You don't have to tell them the obvious.
  • Your synopsis should be short and concise. Tell the story and get to the end. How do your characters survive and find resolution?
  • Look at your writing business plan and make sure it provides for your future as a writer vs. a one book wonder.
  • Even villains and bad girls need redeeming qualities.

Do you find these kind of random tips helpful? More good stuff later. Now, go have a great weekend!

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Terri Tiffany said...

I always love your tips! I will check out your links!

Diane Buccheri said...

Smart, Angie. Good advice to follow!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Thanks, Terri. *smile*

Diane, so glad you dropped by! I've got a rough of something I'm working on to send to you. Your publication is truly lovely. Kathryn Magendie touts you highly. Love the full color too. (Writer friends...check out Diane's site and "Oceans" magazine!)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Yup - all good points, indeed! :-)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Speaking of the debbel, Kat. :) Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I have only submitted one story, and it came back, unmarked and unremarked. It was an outdoor story, go figure. The only stuff that I write now is the type I gave you the other night. Those kids mean the world to me. I know it is sickening hearing this all the time, but it is fun seeing our future leaders, this includes your crew.

Michelle H. said...

Of course I find these random tips helpful. You are just chockful of the good writerly stuff. :)

Jessica said...

I saw yours on there! I remember being amused. :-) 'Cause it was good, that is. And interesting with a strong voice.
Anyways, I can't wait to see the crits either. I posted mine up and I'm interested to see how this gets done.

Eric Curtis said...

The POV tip I found very helpful. I've been guilty of that on a few of my short stories.

I'm working on the next version of my script's synopsis right now because I'm going to send out a fresh batch of letters next month. I swear, sometimes I think it was easier writing the script than these synopsis and inquiry letters. There wasn't nearly as much second guessing.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Oren, your speech for and to the running team and supporters was an A++! Oh, and I hope my boys are part of the positive future of "doers" and "leaders." :)

Thank you, Michelle. I enjoyed your pitch paragraph at the agent's site too. Hope you score the crit.

Jessica, how sweet! Did you post a pitch? Gotta go back and read more. Good luck!

Eric, you're 100% right. The writing's the easy part. Got a massive ms looking at me screaming to be revised AGAIN. ug. :)

Angie Ledbetter said...


Melissa Marsh said...

I also looked through some of the entries on the agent's blog that was accepting pitch submissions. Some very interesting stuff on there!

Great tips, though I was a bit surprised at the 3-5 scenes per chapter. Sometimes, I only have one scene, sometimes 3, in a chapter, but I never have the same amount in each one.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Melissa, I agree. Just reading the submitted pitches is a mini-education in the good, the bad and the ugly. :) And the tip on number of scenes might've been recommended because the speaker is a mystery-suspense-romance author?

Looking forward to your writing challenge in Feb!

colbymarshall said...

Love tips- I wish I had a pitch I was ready to toss out, but just don't at the moment. Hope your gets picked!

DebraLSchubert said...

Angie, Great tips! I especially found the ones about the back story, number of scenes per chapter, and tags quite interesting. Thanks so much! Debbie

Captain Dumbass said...

Thanks for these tips, they're great. I only just started jotting down some of the stories that clog up my head. I'm not doing it with the thought of ever publishing them, just to GET THE CRAZY OUT!!! Ok, not quite, but they are helpful.

Vodka Mom said...

These were great. However, I am primarily a children's book author (wanna be). I still LOVE to read about writing, and thought your list was wonderful.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Thanks, Colby. How's the new pup doing?

You're welcome, Debbie. I'm enjoying your blog.

Capt'n, you're right. Gotta keep that pen or fingers on keyboard moving fast to vent the voices!

Vodka Mom, glad you liked. You're blog is wonderful, and all those followers! Bet you're glad to be on school holiday. :)

Diane Buccheri said...

Angie, a little kitty mentioned your poetry to me for OCEAN Magazine. I'm looking forward to receiving some!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Ooo, love that kitty (not a 4-legged kind, Colby!). I'm working on revisions, Diane, then off to your OCEAN they'll fly. :) Merry merry to you & yours.

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