Saturday, May 14, 2011

Writing Tips from 2011 AWW Faculty -- Rachel Coyne

As part of our blog series, Antioch Writers' Workshop 2011 Faculty share their tips for writing. You can read complete bios of AWW 2011 Faculty at Check back regularly for more helpful writing tips.

Those registered for the full-week experience of the 2011 Antioch Writers' Workshop have the unique opportunity to participate in pitch sessions with visiting literary agents as well as attend talks in the Professional Connections Series. Suzie Townsend, who originally planned to join us at this summer's workshop, has had a conflict arise and can't be with us. However, we're pleased to announce Rachel Coyne as one of the TWO fantastic agents who will be joining the 2011 AWW Faculty.

Twelve year publishing industry veteran Rachel Coyne from FinePrint Literary Management will also be part of the 2011 AWW faculty. Rachel has represented fourNew York Times bestselling authors, and is on the lookout for the fifth. She represents young adult novels of all stripes (historical, fantasy, romance, contemporary, literary, humorous), as well as middle grade novels, especially with a humorous voice. She's also looking for adult historical, fantasy, urban fantasy and science fiction. 

Writing Tips
1. Opening pages are important. Make sure your story begins in an exciting place. I often read openings where the character wakes up in the morning, gets ready for school or work, eats breakfast... And there's nothing compelling happening yet. When readers browse in a bookstore, if the first page doesn't grab them, they'll put the book back on the shelf. If you open on an exciting moment, you'll grab readers and get them emotionally invested in your character to keep them reading to find out what will happen next. Remember, if your characters are feeling bored or calm, your readers will start to snooze. If your characters are feeling strong emotions like fear or anger or longing, your readers will feel that with them, and they'll feel compelled to keep reading.

2. Before you submit, proofread your work carefully. Read your dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds natural, and ask a friend to read through it and catch anything you might have missed. Ask your reader to note any places where they felt confused. Sometimes authors know things about the story, such as a character's motivation, but they don't convey it clearly in their manuscript. Your reader will have more objectivity, and can let you know whether or not everything you want to convey in your story is coming across clearly to readers.

3. When it's time to submit, check each agency's website and read their submission guidelines. You can and should submit multiple queries at a time, but submit to only one agent at a time within an agency. (We often refer authors to each other, and it can cause confusion if two agents request the same manuscript within the same agency.) Be sure to follow the individual agent's guidelines, because some agents want just a query letter while others also want a synopsis and/or first pages. Also, some agents only accept email queries, so you could be wasting your time and paper if you submit by regular mail. Other times, agents aren't currently looking for clients and note this on their website. Also, make sure the agent handles the type of work you write.  

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate these comments by Ms. Coyne. That strong emotions in characters evoke strong emotions in readers seems simple, yet Ms. Coyne's tips remain compelling and true.


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