One Writer’s Journey

February 18, 2015

Conflict: Age matters

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:24 am
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age appropriate conflictI recently read a post by agent Scott Eagan on the differences between Conflict and Complications.  The problem is that many of the manuscripts Eagan recieves are full of complications for the characters but not true conflict.  Yes, hitting traffic or having to change clothes before you leave the house can be a hastle but they are complications.  Your character can get around these things fairly easily.  You reader isn’t on the edge of her seat wondering “Is this it?

This got me to thinking.  Things don’t work quite like this in children’s books.  Complications vs true conflict depend completely on the age of the reader and, thus, the character.

What do I mean?  Having your main character take a wrong turn on the way home from school is no big whoop-de-doo for a highschooler.  All the reader’s going to think is “get your head together and turn around, dumby.”

But if your character and reader are picture book aged, its a completely different situation.  In Kevin Henkes picture book Sheila Rae, The Brave, Sheila Rae gets lost.  Her little sister comes to her rescue and the two become closer for it.  That wouldn’t work if your character was a typical high schooler, but it works quite well for a preschooler who has never walked home alone.

In children’s books, your conflict has to be age appropriate.  Make it to old for the character and reader and you  may find your five year-old character trying to save the world from an evil wizard who is killing those who won’t join his cause (hello, Harry Potter).

Whoa! That’s way too much for this audience.  But a highschooler who is overwhelmed by her new backpack, purse or boots is going to make a pretty boring story even if Kevin Henkes made this also fly in picture book form.

Conflict vs. Complication.  To make it work, you have to make it age appropriate.



February 24, 2014

Marketing: Stop It Now

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:15 am
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CraftI’d love to say I was surprised when I saw the post, Stop Learning How to Market Your Book . . . Please, from agent Scott Eagan.  In his post, Eagan calls to writers to stop taking classes on self-publishing, e-publishing and using social media to find readers.  Instead, he calls on readers to do something altogether different.

He begs them to learn their craft.

I’d love to say this plea surprises me, but it doesn’t.  We live in an instant society.  Dinners that used to take an hour or more in the oven (now called the conventional oven) can be nuked tasteless in 15 minutes are less.  Apps on your phone mean you don’t have to wait to get home to check your messages, send an e-mail or post a photo.  You can do it wherever you are, right this very minute.

Maybe that’s a bit part of why so many writers believe they should be published now.

Whether you plan to publish traditionally or self-publish, I’d like to second Eagan’s play.  Learn how to write.  Go to conferences with craft sessions.  Read books on the craft.  Attend a critique group with, if possible, published writers.  Read everything you can get your hands on.  Write and rewrite.

Study your craft first and your marketing second.  Be hard on yourself and be hard on your writing, because you better believe — your readers will be.


September 13, 2012

Why do Agents Want Synopsis, Blurbs, etc

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:58 am
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Why do agents sometimes want a synopsis and other times want the complete manuscript and a synopsis?

I’ve always had opinions about this but here is a post by an agent who explains why he asks for specific submissions packages.  What does he read for when he asks for a synopsis vs when he asks for the first chapter, the first three chapters or the entire manuscript each with a synopsis.  While Scott Eagan doesn’t represent children’s authors, this will give you some insight into how agents think.



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