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Writers' News

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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New Publisher Listing

firstwriter.com – Wednesday October 16, 2019

Publishes: Fiction;
Areas include: Humour; Short Stories;
Markets: Adult;
Preferred styles: Literary

Publishes novels and short story collections between 45,000 and 100,000 words. Only accepts work from writers who have not yet published a book of literary fiction. Particularly looking for female and LGBTQ voices. Submit via online submission system. $7.13 fee per submission.

[See the full listing]

New Literary Agent Listing: Rachel Ekstrom

firstwriter.com – Wednesday October 16, 2019

Agent at Folio Literary Literary Management, handling fiction and nonfiction for adults, children, and young adults. Send query by email with writing sample.

[See the full listing]

Removing the Mystery From Mystery Writing: 13 Tricks Used by Acclaimed Novelists

vulture.com – Tuesday October 15, 2019

What makes reading a good mystery so satisfying? A writer’s hard work. A complex story à la Gone Girl doesn’t just pop out of a writer’s brain fully formed on a random Tuesday. Giving readers what they crave is about structure and pacing and, ultimately, originality. In 2019, it’s also about writing characters with more depth than your archetypal male dick motivated by some dead girl who maybe, if she’s lucky, gets to have a name.

To learn more about the elements of great mystery architecture, Vulture asked eight masters of the form to anatomize their thinking, from the most conceptual level down to the technical details. None of their tips or habits are compulsory, and some even contradict one another, but together they represent craft perfected to the level of art. (Spoiler: Literal crafts are sometimes involved.)

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Experts reveal their top tips for how to write a book

goodhousekeeping.com – Tuesday October 15, 2019

If you want to know how to write a book, we've got the answer. While it's a daunting task, it's not impossible and here, experts share their top tips to help you get published.

November marks National Novel Writing Month, a global initiative which aims to inspire and encourage writers across the world.

The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month – which sounds daunting but in fact is just over 1000 a day. So if you’ve always wanted to know how to write a book, now is the perfect time.

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10 Tips for Writing (Both About Yourself and in General)

juneauempire.com – Sunday October 13, 2019

One of my favorite (and simultaneously most hated) qualities of children is their tendency to be unintentionally blunt.

Over the past year, my daughter, son and their little parliament of friends have called me out on hiding my baldness with a Yankees cap, wearing the same clothes every day and “having claws” (read: grossly unclipped toenails). I don’t even want to tell you the comments I hear at the pool. Suffice to say I need to cut back on the midnight Nutella spoons.

Earlier this week, the apples of my eye point-blankedly asked me why I didn’t have a job. I told them that wasn’t true, that I was a writer, to which they both responded: “no, a real job.” So I printed a copy of my curriculum vitae. I still don’t think they were impressed — even after they checked my references.

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New Literary Agent Listings: Jamie Chambliss and Sonali Chanchani

firstwriter.com – Thursday October 10, 2019

Jamie Chambliss and Sonali Chanchani are literary agents at Folio Literary Management, handling both fiction and nonfiction. See their individual listings for specific areas of interests.

[See the full listing]

UVM Students Launch Literary Magazine 'Crossroads'

sevendaysvt.com – Wednesday October 9, 2019

University of Vermont students launched the literary magazine Crossroads, but its roots can be traced off-campus to Burlington's Light Club Lamp Shop. There, every Monday evening, poets and other writers meet to share their work open-mic style. That's where the Crossroads founders cemented their love of poetry, met future contributors and collaborators, and, most importantly, found a community they thought could be served by a new publication devoted to verse.

Alexander Ellis and Jack Wheaton started Crossroads in 2017 after one of those readings. Production involved a fair amount of furtive feeding of card stock into printers at the UVM library and late-night stapling sessions. That first issue, Ellis said with a laugh, was "really crappy." But to them, it was exciting just to see their words in print.

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There Is No Such Thing as 'Too Similar' When Publishers All Want the Same Book

jezebel.com – Wednesday October 9, 2019

A few years ago, when I was shopping my now-shelved first novel, an industry insider told me to put the word “girls” in the title. “Girl” novels were big at the moment: Gone GirlGirl on the TrainThe Girls. But a few months later, I was told I had to change the title. There were too many novels about girls.

That is pretty much the way the publishing industry works. Once a title becomes wildly popular, rival imprints rush to get their hands on books that are slight variants on the same conceit until they have too many books on the same topic—say, a woman with a substance abuse problem who witnesses a crime—and once that topic is oversaturated, they move on to something else. In a recent Buzzfeed article, historical fiction novelist Kim Michele Richardson said that details in bestselling author of MeBeforeYou Jojo Moyes’s new novel are too close for comfort to those included in her own work. However, in an industry that frequently gets stuck on the same idea, the similarities in their work look more like byproducts of how well both women know which details are required of their genre, and the fact that many books are becoming difficult to distinguish from one another.

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New Publisher Listing

firstwriter.com – Wednesday October 9, 2019

Publishes: Fiction;
Markets: Children's

Always on the lookout for authors and artists with creative ideas to enhance and broaden their list of children's books. See website for submission guidelines.

[See the full listing]

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