Archive for March 17th, 2010

Mar 17 2010

Specificity Sells Proposals, Says Nathan Bransford

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Literary agent Nathan Bransford has some great ideas about how to make book proposals more enticing by adding specificity.  If you’re trying to find a professional publisher for your novel or comic book, I would recommend checking it out.

Here’s an excerpt.

Be as specific as possible about the plot.

I get so many queries that read (literally, though this is made up for the purposes of this post) like this:

Character Name is living peacefully in Hometown. But then a life-changing event occurs that changes everything. Secrets are revealed that turn her life upside down. Character Name faces grave danger as she embarks on a quest to save her people. This novel is filled with humor and passion and suspense and romance, and there’s a shocking twist that leaves the reader breathless.

Being vague leaves an agent with so many questions: What are the secrets? What is the life-changing event? What is the danger she’s facing? What happens that is funny and suspenseful and romantic?

When all of these key details are kept hidden the query ends up sounding like… well, pretty much every novel ever written. And chances are an agent is going to move on to the next query.

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Mar 17 2010

This t-shirt will make supermodels want to date you

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Mar 17 2010

Chapter Checklist

Here are twenty sets of questions to help you check your writing.

1.  Is the story easy to read through? Will readers understand what is happening as they read through it for the first time?

2.  At the end of each chapter, does the audience want to keep reading? For example, perhaps you make an exciting revelation, leave a character in danger, leave a character on the verge of doing or learning something interesting, etc.

3.  Do the characters have high-stakes, urgent goals? If not, check the pacing.  When little is at stake, the plot tends to drag.

4. Does each paragraph develop a character or advance the plot? If not, rewrite or shorten or remove as necessary.  One common offender here is unnecessary dialogue, such as niceties.

5.  Does the plot challenge the protagonists? Is there doubt they will succeed?  If the plot is too easy, you could make the antagonists tougher, make side-characters less supportive of the protagonists, make the protagonists less powerful, etc.

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