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How do you write a novel? A draft in time saves nine

irishtimes.com – Thursday November 14, 2019

I’m often asked about the best way to write a novel’s first draft, and thank God for that, for otherwise I’d have no social life at all.

For some reason it generally seems to happen when I discover myself at the bottom of Dawson Street around lunchtime, waiting to cross over to the Trinity side.

“I say, Mr Burke!” bawls some aspiring scribe who, having recently perambulated around from College Green, has mistaken me for that prime hunk of literary boulevardier, Edmund Burke. “How does one go about writing a novel-length story?”

“Well,” I bawl back, which usually precipitates something of a conversational longueur, it being my accoster’s expectation that I have deployed same as a precursor to embarking on lengthy disquisition, whereas my advice in the matter of writing novel-length stories is as brief as it is simple, ie, that if they must be written at all, then they really ought to be written well.

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Five Things To Keep in Mind When Writing A Fantasy Series

winteriscoming.net – Wednesday November 13, 2019

Writing a fantasy series can feel a lot like going on a really long road trip. No matter how prepared you think you are, you’re probably still going to get lost a zillion times and realize that you didn’t pack half the things you need. But none of that will matter because you’ll have all kinds of adventures along the journey!

Or … your characters will at least.

As the author? You’re mostly going to consume a lot of caffeine.

I’ll be honest: I had no idea how to write a book when I first got the idea for Keeper of the Lost Cities. And I knew right away that the story would need to be told throughout the course of a series, so it felt extra daunting. I tried studying the craft of writing, but it was all a bit too abstract to be useful for me. What helped me so much more was devouring as many fantasy series as I could get my hands on—which brings me to the first thing to keep in mind if you’re writing a fantasy series.

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When rejection isn’t failure

dailyprincetonian.com – Thursday November 7, 2019

This year, I had only one New Year’s resolution: to receive a rejection letter from a literary agent. This wasn’t because I didn’t want to succeed. It was because rejection isn’t the opposite of success, but a necessary step on the road to accomplishment.

Rejection sucks. It’s inevitable, but still — it sucks. This problem is especially prevalent here at Princeton, where students who were their high school’s star athlete or lead actor or first chair find themselves suddenly surrounded by people who are, let’s face it, more talented than them. So often, Princeton students will go through audition after interview after application and face rejection after rejection after rejection. I’ve certainly had my fair share here, and I won’t pretend that it didn’t shatter my self-esteem a little.

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Agents Do Drop You

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach

firstwriter.com – Monday November 4, 2019

When they stop communicating with you, you know you’re toast.

So should you negotiate without an agent?

Writers are often eager to have time-limited contracts with their agents—as well they might be (you want to get out when you’re ready to go)—but some agents have time-limited contracts for their own protection. One popular authors’ representative gives a contract for a six-month period and says if he can’t sell your book within that time, you’re free to go.

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Thought poetry was dead? The 'Instapoets' raking it in online would beg to differ

theage.com.au – Saturday November 2, 2019

Paterson, Poe, Plath – would they have resisted plugging their work on Instagram? Meet the Millennials sending their pop verse viral – and generating sales that prove poetry’s demise has been exaggerated.

Standing on a Persian carpet before a crowd in Bankstown in Sydney’s west, swaying to the rhythm of her own words, Canadian performance poet Rupi Kaur recited Broken English. It’s a poem about the shame she once felt over her Sikh mother’s inability to speak the language. The 300 mainly immigrant Australian women at this, the Bankstown Poetry Slam, were mesmerised. Borrowing from the 1950s beatnik poetry tradition, the audience snapped their fingers in appreciation, then hollered and cheered as Kaur’s performance came to a close. “You can go on forever,” someone from the floor proclaimed, transfixed as much by the cadence of Kaur’s voice as by her verse.

It was May 2017, and the then 25-year-old Canadian dubbed the “queen of the Instapoets” and the “Oprah of her generation” was in town as a keynote speaker at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Accompanying her on the visit was her publisher Kirsty Melville, whose American company is credited with a global revival of interest in poetry through the publication of books by young women like Kaur, now 27, who have both a way with words and a big social media presence. In Kaur’s case that means 3.8 million Instagram followers, who feast on a feed that alternates between selfies and sparse but digestible poetry.

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Tyler Hayes Guest Post–"Rescued From the Trunk"

locusmag.com – Thursday October 31, 2019

The week before I got an offer on my debut novel, I made the decision to give up on it.

The Imaginary Corpse was a labor of love: a noir-flavored fantasy cobbled together from childhood memories, my experiences in therapy, and a million literary and ludological ancestors. Writing it felt right in a way that no other manuscript had before. I built this world in a matter of hours, the outline in a matter of days. Rarely did I have to stop and think during the drafting process (editing, of course, was another story). It’s the book of my heart. Writing it required years of working on myself, finding my real voice under all the received wisdom about writing, and trying very, very hard not to be afraid.

I also couldn’t seem to sell it for the longest time.

Out of all the books I’ve written, the queries and pitches for The Imaginary Corpse were by far the best-received, but all that means is that I finally got partial manuscript requests. I also got partial manuscript rejections, and all of them said essentially the same thing as the rejections of my initial query packet, just in more detail: This is good. But I, a literary agent, have no idea where I’d sell it.

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How to write the perfect approach email

artshub.co.uk – Monday October 28, 2019

No matter what kind of art you produce, you’ll definitely have to try and get someone interested in it at some point. This might mean getting in touch with a gallery owner if you’re a painter, a producer if you’re in the performing arts or film, or a publisher if you write books. And odds are, you’re going to do so via email. 

With that in mind, I caught up with Kathryn Burnett to talk about how to write (and how not to write) an approach email. Kathryn runs The Writing Room (an Auckland space for writers to work, hang out and connect with other writers) and has been a screenwriter for 25 years and a playwright and writing coach for eight years. Early in her career, she used to send approach emails and query letters. Now, she does less of that, but gets lots of approach emails herself. Here’s what she’s learned about contacting someone you’ve never met before and asking them for help.

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When the pope offers writing advice, should you listen?

theguardian.com – Friday October 25, 2019

 

Pope Francis offered the staff of the Vatican some writing advice in September: “Give up using adjectives” – and also adverbs, as in phrases such as “authentically Christian”, to which he declared himself allergic. I suppose if there’s anyone you can’t condemn for pontificating like this, it’s the pontiff. Yet his advice annoyed me, as did some newly published tips aimed at scientists from the novelist Cormac McCarthy, who turns out to have been giving behind-the-scenes editorial advice to leading researchers for years. “Remove extra words or commas whenever you can,” reads McCarthy’s advice (as paraphrased by two of his academic collaborators). Also: “Don’t overelaborate.” Though he’s less of a stickler than Francis when it comes to adjectives: “Only use an adjective if it’s relevant.” In short, we’re back to William Strunk and EB White’s famous advice in The Elements Of Style: “Omit needless words.”

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Literary agent Emily Hickman: ‘First and foremost, we are passionate advocates for our clients’

thestage.co.uk – Monday October 21, 2019

Representing writers and directors for stage and screen, Emily Hickman also manages the dramatic rights of authors at The Agency. Having most recently worked with Marina Carr on Blood Wedding, she tells Ruth Comerford what it takes to manage clients…

How did you become an agent?
I was always really passionate about theatre; I did a lot of student drama at university. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do specifically so I wrote to lots of theatres and was lucky to get an internship at the Donmar Warehouse, which was amazing and led to a role working in its casting and development department. I started doing a bit of script reading and realised that what I’d really like to do is work with writers in some capacity. I assisted another agent and his clients for several years before I started taking on my own clients alongside his, and built my own list. It took many years.

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One Neat Trick to Writing Great Mystery Plots

vulture.com – Thursday October 17, 2019

I spend a lot of time thinking about a Raymond Chandler quote I once read. “The perfect detective story cannot be written,” he said. “The type of mind which can evolve the perfect problem is not the type of mind that can produce the artistic job of writing.”

Well — shoot. It has the ring of truth to it, unfortunately. Almost every writer seems to start out interested either in narrative or talking, story or language, before filling in the rest later. This is why it’s funny when literary novelists who couldn’t write a competent John Wick novelization (I put this challenge squarely to A.S. Byatt) call J.K. Rowling a bad writer. She’s an indifferent stylist, sure, but in most of the other ways a writer can be “good” — character, plot, imagination — she’s brilliant. Past brilliant. Meanwhile Chandler, whom many of the same people (rightly) revere, could never, as he freely admitted, explain who killed the chauffeur in The Big Sleep.

The contemporary novelist who comes closest to real parity between story and art may be Tana French. Her most striking gift is for voice, but if her plots aren’t flawless, you can see nonetheless how hard she works to make them very, very good, with just an occasional faint seam showing, nothing more. But that’s almost certainly a product of tenacity and intelligence, not instinct. I would bet French has spent more time thinking about structure than Agatha Christie — who hatched her perfect plots in the bathtub, serenely eating apples — ever did.

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