I really love lists

Evaluating a manuscript is always an interesting thing.  The fact is, when an agent or an editor considers a novel, every detail really does matter. This is an important thing for any hopeful writer to consider, because in the end it could affect that final answer: yes or no. Some thoughts:

  1. In keeping with what John spoke about earlier today, make the premise of the story clear from the beginning, and throw conflict in early on. If it takes too long for the reader to become invested in what’s happening, or even know what the story is about, they likely won’t continue reading.
  2. Give your characters desire and agency. Understandably, characters that are not driven—either positively or negatively—become boring fairly quickly.
  3. On the topic of characters, avoid introducing everyone all at once.
  4. Be mindful of your point of view. Often, a story is stronger when the action is experienced through the perspective of the main character. This is certainly not imperative, but something to consider.
  5. Most importantly, try to avoid over-writing.  Making your writing stand out is important, but can also be tricky. Don’t let your writing get in its own way.

Can you think of any other important tips to keep in mind?

2 Responses to I really love lists

  1. The most important thing I can think of, and this applies more to rewriting, is learning to cut words and, in some cases, scenes. Make everything as tight as possible, and not only does it eliminate a lot of garbage, throwaway words, purple prose, and so on, but it also makes it easier to spot structural flaws because you’re not as tied down in and distracted by the language. If everything is succinct, it’s easier to catch what’s missing.

  2. I appreciate the advice. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in your book that you miss the flaws. Thank you.

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