Last week I gave a workshop on writing popular fiction and I asked a highly respected literary agent for some information. What are you looking for at the moment? I asked her.
‘There’s no definitive answer,’ she said. ‘But I am looking for something that stands out from the crowd, and the writing must be exceptional.’ She explained that although her agency works with writers on their proposals/books, it is an expensive process if you can’t be sure of a good outcome. So good writing is more important than ever. ‘The writing has to be fresh, individual and clever,’ she added. ‘They must own their book and write with conviction.’
She does not follow trends as they change so quickly. She also said ‘What every writer must remember is that the agent has to sell it on to a editor, and the editor has to sell it on to sales and marketing. So if there isn’t a 1 or 2 sentence pitch, it probably isn’t going to work.’
Interesting, I thought. Very interesting.
I went away and thought long and hard about this. It’s a difficult thing to do. I tried describing some of my own books in 1 or 2 lines:
Ask Amy Green: …
(This was first posted in 2010)
According to my Oxford Concise a manifesto is ‘a public declaration of a policy and aims’.
I’m currently planning a tour in October for 3 teen/tween writers – 3 days, 3 cities, 3 remarkable writers – title yet to be decided, but we have some pretty nifty names already. The writers involved are Judi Curtin, writer of the fab Alice and Megan series, Sophia Bennett, writer of the equally fab Threads series set in the London fashion world, and moi!
And I came up with a tongue in cheek manifesto:
No boys that go bump in the night
Really amazing stories straight from the heart
We all write books for age 9/10+ with characters who are in their early teens. We all deal with real life issues – family drama, friendship problems, bullying – hence the no vampires, no werewolves bit.
So it got me thinking – maybe I should have my own writing manifesto, a Writer’s Manifesto. A ‘public declaration’ of my writing intentions.
So here goes:
I guess my most important aim is to entertain.
The first commandment of popular fiction of any kind or …
I’ve been editing for the last two weeks so apologies for the lack of blogs. I taught a writing workshop yesterday and this is the list I gave the writers at the end of the class (along with other notes that I’ll post at a later stage). I love good books about writing and here are some of my favourites. I’d advise every anyone interested in writing to invest in and read Stephen King’s book, it’s excellent.
Yours in writing,
On Writing by Stephen King
Inspiring and full of good advice.
From Pitch to Publication by Carole Blake
Invaluable guide to getting published from an experience agent.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
One of the best books about being a writer and living a writer’s life I’ve ever found. Succinct, direct and truthful, a book I come back to over and over again if I’m in need of a little writerly pick me up.
Write Away by Elizabeth George
Excellent if you want to write crime.
See Jane Write by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs
Tips on writing fiction for a female audience – American book – useful if you are interested in writing popular fiction.
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