Last night I went to London Writers Café. Normally during the session members will read out their work and get critique from other members, but last night’s session was hosted by The Word Association, an editorial consultancy who support writers with the editorial process and the writing craft.
They talked about submitting to an agent, what agents are looking for in a manuscript, and the pitfalls that new writers fall into. I won’t list all 10 pitfalls, but I’ll pick out a few which I know I struggle with:
Characters without clear goals whose dilemmas and choices are not set up. Relationships without conflict.
KEEPING IT RELEVANT
Too much setting up, too much detailed observation that has no relevance to character or plot development.
Too much background information about characters which does not contribute dramatically to the main story or build anticipation.
The reason why I hit a barrier with my own MS was that I knew the start was far too long and I felt frustrated that it took pages and pages to get where I wanted. At first yesterday I got really disheartened because they were confirming my worst fear: that I’d written far too much before even beginning the story and any agent I might send my MS to would get bored after the first page or two. However I decided to be positive about it, and have now figured out a way to keep enough back-information that is vital to the whole story, but still plunge right into the drama and conflict. Now, I just have to re-write the damn thing!
You can read the rest of The Word Association’s Top 10 pitfalls here.
What pitfalls do you fall into with your writing, and how do you try to overcome them?