By guest poster Lisa Alber on Writer Unboxed 4/16/2014
I once had a wise-woman teacher who said, “Your story is only as good as your villain.”
Being a new writer, the word “villain” confused me. It had me imagining serial killers and blood-sucking demons, which wasn’t my thing. I didn’t truly understand what she meant until I started thinking of villains as tricksters. In mythology, the trickster deities break the rules of civilized life. They’re often malicious, but not always. They exist to cause transformation. They upend. They are catalysts. This is why the better your villain (trickster), the better your story. Another way to think about it is that without a good villain, your conflict can go flat. This potential story flaw applies to everything from literary novels to high-octane thrillers to romances. No writer is exempt from creating conflict, and for conflict you need upheaval. And for upheaval, you need trickster energy. To get your trickster groove on, consider the following....
(con't on Writer Unboxed)
photo by kirstyhall
Written by Chuck Sambuchino at Writer Unboxed 4/22/2013
In a previous Writer Unboxed column, I discussed the value of starting your story strong and how an “inside-out” approach to narrative action can help your case. But just as important as knowing what to do when beginning your novel is knowing what not to do.
No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents. They’re the ones on the front lines — sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they’re the ones who can tell us which Chapter 1 approaches are overused and cliche, as well as which techniques just plain don’t work. Below find a smattering of feedback from experienced literary agents on what they hate to see the first pages of a writer’s submission. Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!
“I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter 1. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated.”
- Cricket Freeman, The August Agency
“I dislike opening scenes that you think are real, then the protagonist wakes up. It makes me feel cheated.”
- Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary .... (Con't on Writer Unboxed)
By Lucy V. Hay at Bang2write
Many thanks to Carole Blake from the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency for providing a VERY comprehensive list on how NOT to submit to an agent. This is a fab list and I have actually had a number 27 myself!! Maybe it was the same lady? Enjoy …
1. No gimmicks. Don’t send food, flowers – or anything else. Food goes straight into the bin … just in case. I’ve read lots of crime fiction.
I once received a large parcel that weighed almost nothing. Inside was a rubbish bin and a letter saying the writer assumed the submission would end up there so was sending me one to speed up the process. The partial for a crime novel that was attached looked rather good. I left the bin, letter & ms on my desk. Next morning our office cleaner had removed the contents and put the rubbish bin neatly next to my desk. There was no way to contact the author despite a story on our website and some tweets … That was the end of that.
2. Your own cover design. They almost always look very amateur. A publisher will produce a professional design that takes account of the current market. Even thinking that they might take your design marks you out as amateur.
3. Any kind of jokey letter making fun of the publishing business – I bet this won’t get read etc. In the cold morning light of a busy office – not funny. See no 1.
4. Don’t trash other authors – they might be my clients. (CON'T on Bang2write)
Have you ever felt the wonderful, addictive rush of adrenalin when a great story idea invades your gray matter, only to lose it when, as time goes on, the idea peters out and you don't know where to go from there?
It's a common problem. We've all been there.
Nine times out of ten, that means there was some story planning you rushed past. Just put the vehicle in reverse, and go back and do that now.This blog post by Janice Hardy of The Other Side of the Story should give you plenty of help with that, so dig right in. ~ Premise and theme.