Sunday, February 15, 2009


Do Not Use These Four Words
The novelist is often inspired by an event that has occurred in real life or by a person who really exists. His job is to take that event or personality and rework it to create a fictional world that SEEMS real. However, many novelists do not use the creative license that would make the story come alive for the reader. When the manuscript is rejected because the plot or characterization does not work, the amateur novelist screams the four words that will forever stop him from landing a book contract...BUT IT REALLY HAPPENED! Let's say (for example) that your Aunt Betty was married 18 times, had six children, adopted ten more, survived 12 house fires, nine sexual assaults and seventeen serious muggings. Instead of crowding all of this into a 300-page manuscript and asking an agent to take it on, why not use your imagination and creative license? Maybe you could tell the story of a woman who married twice, sustained a serious injury in ONE mugging and still raised five successful children despite a terrible physical disability? Get it? It does not matter what REALLY HAPPENED in real life. The only thing which matters is whether your story is believable or not.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Dear Writers:

I received a query letter last week from an aspiring novelist who does not know how to spell. She wrote "summit" when she meant "submit." She wrote "habbit" when she really meant "habit."

This is really unacceptable. How can she possibly get an agent?

Please buy and use the following books:

1. Elements of Style by Strunk and White
2. A Dictionary
3. A Thesaurus