on January 25, 2012 at 7:40 AM
When you are writing a novel one of the most important things you can do before you submit to an agent or editor is tighten up your writing and make it be the absolute best it can be and avoid really long run on sentences that don’t add much value and really drag your story down.
(Whew) See what I mean? Many times it’s the simple things that keep your book from being read by an agent or an editor. Here are some tips…
- You’ve got to have a HOOK! In the first few paragraphs, or at the very minimum, within the first page, give your reader a reason to keep going. Set something in motion that draws in your audience. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic fight scene or a bomb that blows up, although that could be interesting. It can be something very simple that makes your readers want to know more about your story. Without it, you’ve lost before you’ve even started. Many agents have told me, “If I don’t find the hook in that first sentence then I’m done. I read so many submissions that the work must stand out right away.”
- Clean up your basic writing skills. Use correct punctuation and spelling. Avoid run on sentences with three or more conjunctions and really try to avoid adverbs. Choose more active verbs to keep your story moving. For example, He cried loudly. Change to He wailed. See how easy that was? Many times it’s all about word choice. A good editor can help with this.
- Avoid unnecessary details. You don’t need to spend paragraphs describing a scene. It can drag your reader out of the story and bore them to tears.
- Remember whose head you’re in. I can’t tell you the times I’ve read books where I’m seeing the story through one set of eyes then I get yanked into someone else’s head in the same paragraph. Even worse is getting yanked from a person’s head to an omniscient (see all) point of view. The reader can feel completely removed from the story and find it difficult to dig back in.
- Spend some time with your synopsis and your thirty second pitch. A talented writer can say what their book is about in two sentences at the most. Work on this. It can be used at conferences for agents, or in your submissions to publishers. Stay tuned for more on this topic.
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