If only authors could sprinkle magic fairy dust over their manuscripts to guarantee a tightly spun plot that draws the reader in and captivates them for the duration of the book. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? I’d head down to the nearest Magic Shop and stock up. Unfortunately, that particular magic fairy dust doesn’t exist. Sad, but true. Writing is plain hard work. And building a cohesive story requires mind-numbing thought, blood, sweat, and tears, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. What’s the difference between a book that works and one that doesn’t? The answer isn’t always easy to identify. A lot of things can make a book fall apart. Weak character development, plot elements that don’t make sense, subplots that don’t tie into anything, no subplots at all, an antagonist that’s one dimensional, lackluster secondary characters, a scattered theme, an unsympathetic protagonist… The list goes on and on. So, without a handy incantation to …

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Books want to be born: I never make them. They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such. :Samuel Butler Finding Voice Finding your voice is perhaps one of the most difficult things a writer must do. It’s not as if you’ve lost it and it’s hiding under the bed, waiting to be rediscovered. And you can’t copy someone else’s. Your voice is the single most important element in your writing because it makes your work distinctly yours. It’s a combination of your style, your phrasing, your unique vernacular, and how you create tension and build plot. Put it in a blender, mix it up, and voila!, you have voice. Everyone’s process of writing and finding their voice is different. This is how I developed Lola PI, and in the process developed my voice. Know what kind of book you want to write. I wanted to write a book for women, and more importantly, a …

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Whoever knocks persistently, ends by entering. :Ali (A.D. 600?-661), Maxims of Ali Finding an Agent Finding an agent is only one step (after writing a great book) in the challenging process of building a career as an author. My experience taught me that the industry adage No agent is better than the wrong agent is completely and unequivocally true. I was completely green when I started taking my writing career seriously. I’d written a book that I thought was pretty good, with characters that I loved, but I was afraid to send it out to agents. One day, after my hard-written book had been sitting untouched in my computer for untold months, I had the good fortune to come into contact with a semi-retired literary agent who agreed to read my book. I jumped at the chance to get some authentic feedback. Several months, and a few revisions later, Agent X agreed to take me on as a client. Needless to …

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High Concept is a buzz phrase that’s both abstract and difficult to wrap your brain around. What does it mean exactly? In a nutshell, a high concept idea is the hook and a high concept story is a great hook written with unique details that give flight to the idea and make it original. High-concept ideas are what agents and editors are looking for, the one line pitch that sparks interest and defines a book. If you can sum up your book in a tantalizing way, you’re on your way. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of a high concept book. It will have mass commercial appeal. It can be summarized succinctly (preferably in one sentence) so that it is immediately clear what the book is about. This is the hook and is important to the publicity and marketing team. Give them a concrete idea that they can run with. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer grows up to be …

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