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Call me biased but after today's judge announcement this competition offers writers to chance to get…
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  •  · Thank you, L. I'm terrifically unlikely to be shortlisted in anything, of course. Balancing the poss…
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Happy New Year!One of my short stories 'Light is Merely a Distraction' is part of the Unbound Series…
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  •  · Wow - It's cool to see how you use imagery to convey details on the past and the story.  Thank you!
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I hope everybody is enjoying the holidays.Even though it is the festive season it hasn't stopped my …
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  •  · This does gives me some reassurance and I'm glad that you have a good relationship with your agent a…
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2020 is almost over and I thought it would be nice for people to share their top three favourite rea…
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  •  · Pratchett was a genius, no? Hogfather, Thud, and Fifth Elephant get better each reading.
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Hi, I just wanted to share a short story of mine that was published in print last month. It's a tale…
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Hi, As part of a series about the path to publication, I've written a new blog post about what happe…
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  •  · How did I not stumble across this sooner?! Great post, fantastic blog. Thank you so much for sharing…

Hi Sarah, 

Putting your work up for critique is scary, but getting feedback is the best way to learn and progress.

To answer your original question, if I have to choose between only the above options I would go for Chapter 2 as your opening chapter — although I would do a thorough edit of it. The prologue and mini-prologue are nicely written but comes across as too vague and don't really do anything for me.

Regarding chapter 2, one of the biggest and most useful advice I received in the past is when it comes to scene, enter as late as possible and leave as early as you can. The opening scene starts too early in my opinion and would be more engaging starting with Mahime already in the home. At the moment, the first few pages are just set up. The opening is where you need to grab the reader's attention and set up doesn't do that. I was only able to read the first couple of pages, but something I've noticed is that you used a lot of bookisms, such as exclaimed, murmured, spluttered, protested, etc... It feels heavy and also that you don't trust your reader. It's best to keep away from those whenever possible and if you need to use one to confirm who's speaking then it's better and simpler to use 'said'.

Now if it were me I wouldn't go with any of the above options. Based on your synopsis, the story seems to start when the triplets are grown up and with Roe and her guardian. That's where I would start with the opening chapter. The birth, the trinket and parents' murder feels like backstory that can be drip-fed throughout.

Sorry I don't have time for more in-depth feedback but I hope this helps.

Hi Mark, 

It's a perfectly reasonable question, however adding a cover idea to your submission to agents or to publishers would not catch their eyes (or rather catch their eyes for the wrong reasons) and would make your submission less professional in their eyes. 

The only things they are interested in is your story, and your writing and if they are good enough. They will expect you to send them whatever documents they requested as part of their submission (most of the time, cover letter, synopsis and opening 3 chapters), nothing more.

If you sign with an agent, and they sell your MS to a publisher, your publisher will have a design team to work on the cover. Depending on the publisher they might ask you about your preferences, likes and dislikes or examples of covers you like, but they would still be the one to come up with a cover.

However nothing stops you to start working on your own cover if you decide to self-publish.

I hope this helps.

In terms of prose what works for me when I write intimacy/sex is to load the prose with subtext, because what I've noticed is that sex scenes are rarely about sex there are about power dynamics, revealing how characters really feel about themselves, or each other. Eye contact and heavy breathing is surface things so you want to be digging deeper than that. It's also not about using awkward simile or words to describe the act or parts involved. However I don't call it romance.

I hope this helps.

Congratulations! I’m hoping to do a bookshop pilgrimage at the weekend so I’ll see if I can snap a picture of your book in the wild! 

Hi Holly, Good luck with the non-fiction proposal, hopefully it will drum up some interest. 

Met by March goal and deadline so like you I'm waiting to hear if I'll be moving to line/copy edits. So in the meantime, I am working on book 2. I want to do one more pass before sending it to my agent for feedback. 

From what I remember of it, it is an interesting study of common traits to bestsellers but again majority just come across as traits to good storytelling (I mean good storytelling which doesn't mean good writing) but it is not a scientific code on how to write a bestseller or how to predict if an unpublished book will be a bestseller.

If I am understanding what you mean you don't need to change "look" to anything else, you just need to eliminate it. Based on your initial extract you are in a 1st POV so we know that everything described is what the MC see, hear, smell and feel so using "look" just states the obvious and is redundant. By using "look" you are telling the reader what is happening instead of putting them in the MC's head and experience it for themselves.

You don't have to eliminate all filtering words but most the time the majority of them are redundant.

Added a comment to Rules. 

Most of the time people are distracted by the broken rules when the rules have been broken badly. In art, you can do whatever you want from the moment you can pull it off, writing included. It's all in the execution. 

Added a comment to Rules. 

But the question is - is Guernica, Guernica because Picasso learn how to draw and the basics first and built from there? The above statement is applying that he could have created Guernica without all of this training and previous painting & drawing practise.

People don't know straight away how to run, they have to learn to crawl and walk first. For me it's the same with writing - people want to break the rules (i.e. run) before they have learn to crawl (i.e. the basics of creative writing).

For me to break the rules in any kind of art form, you have to learn how they work first. 

As a writer and as a reader I have no issue with swearing. It's a fact of life so I would expect to see it reflected in fiction, but as others have said it shouldn't just be done for the sake of it, it needs to be there for a valid reason and in the right amount so it doesn't detract or lose its effect.

One thing to take into consideration is the genre and the audience. For example, cosy mystery is not really a genre that lends itself to swearing and not something its readers would expect, but if it's a gritty crime drama involving a gang, then swearing feels more natural.

Congratulations! Not a lot of people achieve this stage.
Yes, you should let the other agents know about the full request. Easiest is to drop them an email and use your submission title in the email subject along with the word “update” so they know it’s not a brand new submission.

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