Archive for the ‘Mistakes’ Category
In the last two weeks I’ve been at two events where aspiring novelists have had the opportunity to present their work and ideas to me face-to-face for feedback. I never did anything like this when I was an aspiring novelist and so I was trying to imagine how terrifying this might be for participants. I used to get sweaty palms just standing in the post office queue with a requested manuscript so I don’t think I could have done it. WELL DONE YOU BRAVE LOT. I hope I didn’t scare you too much.
The first event was Pitch Your Novel which took place in Westminster, London and where writers had five minutes to pitch their work/ideas to an industry panel which comprised agent Lorella Belli, m.d. of Legend Press Tom Chalmers and I. From my point of view I was disappointed when writers used their five minutes only to share ideas and I didn’t get to hear any writing. But I did my best to give feedback on those ideas in the context of today’s marketplace. Several of the writers presented material that might have interested a publisher twenty years ago but styles and fashions move on. You may not want to write for the market but do write for today’s reader.
The real benefit of the day lay in watching and learning from the feedback on everyone’s pitches, not just your own. I was also interested to find I agreed with and was thinking the same as my fellow panelists 90% of the time.
I heard a couple of writers who I thought I were promising so certainly not a wasted day from my point of view.
Last weekend I saw about 15 writers one to one at Winchester Writers Conference. No audience this time as the meetings between writer and I were private, albeit in a very noisy room. I intended to give feedback both on the writing as well as marketability but I did notice that writers were disappointed when I didn’t ask to see more material. In one case I’m sure the writer will find an agent but her work was simply not for me. It’s a subjective business and we all have our personal tastes.
I saw one very promising novel but felt it needed work on the plot so it could be more marketable. I don’t think the writer agreed with me but maybe she’ll have second thoughts. Unfortunately it’s not good enough these days just to write a novel of publishable standard, it also must be marketable.
Been having a submissions catch-up day today, and so if you queried me with your opening chapters prior to March 10th, you should have had a response from me.
Having looked a number of submissions in succession, I found myself musing on why more writers weren’t sending in material with openings that really grab.
I thought it was common knowledge in writing circles that one should open one’s novel with a bang (if you’ve been told something different, do say). And a bang might be anything with emotional content – it does not have to involve physical explosives.
Or do you disagree on the best way to open a novel? Do you have your own “rules” you work to? Do you write your opening at the start of writing your novel, at the end, or somewhere in the middle? What’s the best novel opening you’ve ever read?
The good news is that I’ve been making some progress through the full scripts I requested: the pile of five has reduced down to three.
The bad news is that I opened one today which has been on the pile for over a week, and the author had enclosed an SAE asking for it to be posted as proof of receipt of the script. My ‘system’ as it stands at the moment was to pile these full scripts up on a designated shelf waiting to be read, and this script, having arrived with the writers name and address on the back, I knew exactly who it was from and therefore didn’t worry about actually opening the envelope. I put it straight on the pile. I have emailed the writer to let her know I do have her script, and posted the card. Mea culpa.