The tired old stereotype of a mystery writer as some hard-boiled noir guy with a cigarette in one hand and a tumbler full of whiskey in the other is obsolete. Over. Done. Make way for Sisters in Crime, a nationwide organization of women mystery writers who are achieving commercial and literary … [Read more...]
The blog for writers
The Book Deal
Prequels build buzz!
Have you heard what some savvy authors are doing to build excitement and attract readers to their upcoming books? They're writing prequels: tantalizing teasers in short story form that preview the key characters and settings of an upcoming novel. Some prequels predate or provide backstories … [Read more...]
Too much vertical space in your manuscript?
In filmmaking, vertical space is shorthand for script pages with lots of white and not a lot of words. For scriptwriters it's the rule. A script has dialogue, brief notes for action on the screen and not much else. It makes for quick reading and ensures a kind of textual scarcity that directors … [Read more...]
How to grab, delight or shock your readers right from the start
"Every time mama came down on that shabby floor, the bullet lodged in my stomach felt like a hot poker." Claude Brown and I hunted through his manuscript for two days to find that moment and move it to the opening of his classic Harlem memoir Manchild in the Promised Land. We wanted to detail … [Read more...]
How winning a literary prize can change your life
"First, it got my book published," says Kirstin Scott, whose novel Motherlunge won the 2011 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award. "And with that, the prize gave me readers." There's no doubt that winning a well-respected competition can help validate your work with agents and … [Read more...]
Market heats up for debut authors
“Editors still love a chance at debut fiction,” says Manhattan literary agent Michelle Brower. “If the book is unique and meaningful, the debut author doesn’t yet have a bad sales track record so we can look at their book with all of the rosiness of potential rather than reality” Good … [Read more...]
From spark to story: How books get started
Where do stories come from? Are writers inspired from deep within the unconscious psyche by forces beyond their control? Or are they compelled by external cues that resonate without invitation – unexpected and accidental? As an editor, I’ve seen the muse arrive in surprising and mysterious … [Read more...]
Walking in your character’s shoes: Writing with authenticity
Bestselling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell inhabits and writes from inside the mind of her lead sleuth, Dr.Kay Scarpetta, the medical examiner in a blockbuster series of 20 forensic thrillers and counting. To get the details exactly right, Cornwell has hung out in a coroner’s morgue to study … [Read more...]
Ask the editor: An agent said my novel needs emotional glue. Help!
Q. An agent said my novel is missing emotional glue. Like it doesn’t stick together. What is emotional glue and how do I get it into my story? A. Emotional glue reveals a character’s internal reactions, ruminations, and anticipated responses to the dialogue and action of the story. It's the … [Read more...]
What should you expect from a developmental editor?
As a longtime developmental editor, I often get questions from authors about the editor-writer relationship. How exactly do developmental editors work? How can I tell if I’ve found a good one? And will you correct my typos? I can tell you that virtually all successful writers – from Ernest … [Read more...]