Tag Archives: story

To reel in your audience, you need to start with good bait

After attending my first writers’ conference, I came away inspired, and with a bucketload of great ideas! Of course, I won’t post the content of anyone’s actual presentation, as that’s not mine to share. However, I hope you benefit from these thoughts on what I learned, and some ideas on how I plan to apply them in my own journey. This is the eighth in a series of posts on lessons learned from the SCBWI Northern Ohio 2017 Conference.

Lesson 8: “You have to ask yourself what makes your story unique.”

The eighth session I attend was with Linda Camacho (@LindaRandom), the self-same intrepid agent with Prospect Agency who had kindly critiqued my work earlier in the day. The session was about how to stand out in the YA market, and I’ll give you the high level right here up front: there’s not one single right answer.

She gave us a variety of examples that taught various lessons, all of which add up to a standout story. One of her points that stuck with me especially was when she asked us to think of what makes our writing unique. “If the answer is ‘nothing,’” she said, “how can you tell the story in a different way?”

I think what especially struck me was that I hadn’t really thought about changing my writing for the market. I’d thought about telling the story I had to tell. But, from a pragmatic point of view, she’s totally right. A story that sounds just like all the other stories is hardly going to catch the attention of a publisher or reader.

The thing that makes your story different is the thing that’s going to draw your audience in.

Long story short:

Bait the hook. Unique characters, interesting points of view, a question that pulls you into the story – all are important pieces of the puzzle when you’re coming up with a concept that will catch the eye of your audience. You still need to write what you’re passionate about, but maybe be aware of your value proposition – why would someone trade their time and money for your story?

Result: I still plan to tell my story my way, but maybe ‘my way’ has some elasticity that I could take advantage of. I’ve got to consider what makes me unique, and push the boundaries.

I’ll keep you posted as I make progress. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about what makes you, and your story, unique.

Happy writing!

Photo of fish by Brenna Hogan on Unsplash
Photo of pumpkins by Kyaw Tun on Unsplash

And how does that make you feel?

After attending my first writers’ conference, I came away inspired, and with a bucketload of great ideas! Of course, I won’t post the content of anyone’s actual presentation, as that’s not mine to share. However, I hope you benefit from these thoughts on what I learned, and some ideas on how I plan to apply them in my own journey. This is the seventh in a series of posts on lessons learned from the SCBWI Northern Ohio 2017 Conference.

Lesson 7: “Most manuscripts are rejected because there’s no emotional connection with the main character.”

In my seventh session, Vicki Selvaggio (@vselvaggio1), Associate Agent for The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency, discussed how to make our stories into cohesive journeys. She walked us through the parts of the story and the key considerations we need to make for each, and I came away with some ideas about how to add depth to my story and characters.

The biggest point that caught my attention, though, was her quote above about why manuscripts are rejected. I realized that, no matter how amazing my prose, no matter how fun my world, if an agent or publisher doesn’t connect emotionally with my main character, I’m sunk.

Does your main character make you want to hold on tight and go on an adventure? Or do they leave you feeling… meh?

Long story short:

Nobody’s perfect. If your main character seems that way, they’ll probably come off as flat. Make them more of a real person and it will be easier to connect, and probably easier to get published.

Result: I’m going to take a good, hard look at my character, and talk to my beta readers about why they did or didn’t connect with her emotionally. Then I’m going to take Vicki’s advice and add further depth.

I’ll keep you posted as I make progress. In the meantime, please tell me what type of character you connect with the most and why, or share an example of a character you couldn’t connect with.

Happy writing!

Crying man photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash
Hands photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash