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Sarita Discussions
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I'm thinking of starting up a blog and social media stuff as a (hopeful) prelude to publication. But…
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  •  · I gradually built up a following of a couple of thousand followers on my wordpress blog just by doin…
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For the sake of giving a rounded view and because we promised to swap experiences, here's my brief f…
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  •  · Yes Lynn, 18 bucks is quite steep, the highest I've paid, but not the highest rate in London current…
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OK, I HATE the term 'clean teen' but for the sake of clarity, I'll use it here... Anyone have any su…
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  •  · Thanks. I've also asked on the SCWBI forum and they're doing very well ;-) I now have quite a list o…
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... that's all I want to say (scream?). 😲 
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When trying to get inspiration for tailoring my pitch I came across this - funny idea to take you aw…
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  •  · I'm not sure what to make of ' A darkly comic, tragicomedy, hype-sexual women's adventure.' I'll giv…
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You just want it to be clear, and it never is... As if finding your pitch isn't hard enough already,…
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Hi Kate. I'd love to see some YA agents interviewed and would specifically like to know why many UK agents/publishers won't lay a finger on teen fiction. I'm talking that little gap between upper-MG and 'YA proper', 11-14-year-olds. Those kids who have grown out of mysteries and funny fiction and want something to get their teeth into, but aren't ready for gritty, sweary, sexy, druggy, hard-hitting YA as it seems to have materialised over the last few years.

That little group may seem small, but they're very real and if the market loses them at this point, will they come back for the 'YA proper'? And, yes, I know Waterstones doesn't have a space on their shelves for them, but they're never going to make space if they're not pushed by agents and publishers convincing them that there's a neglected audience just waiting for it and a whole load of authors hoping to fill it. 

Lynn, what amazing news. Well done. I'm so pleased for you.

Fingers crossed that we'll see your book in print very soon. 

All the above are good suggestions. I'd like to add that for me there are also too many I's - four (assuming the last one is a mistype) so you can pare the sentence down a bit. Changing only the necessary it could read:

"I visited the hidden room frequently, making sure I wasn’t followed each time, but never certain that someone hadn’t escaped my notice."

You can play around with the wording of course, especially the second half, eg but always feeling I was being watched, to make it a bit more ominous (if that's the atmosphere you're going for), but I think it already sounds less clunky.

Added a forum 

I'm thinking of starting up a blog and social media stuff as a (hopeful) prelude to publication. But how would a blog ever get attention? Does anyone have any experience with this? Any advice would be appreciated. 

Hi Liliana. My story's set in Spain but I'm writing in English. My Spanish isn't good enough to edit, I'm sorry.

I think you've got your tenses mixed. The PAST PERFECT (eg had protested) indicates a past moment 'two steps back in time', a pre-past if you like. The PAST SIMPLE (eg protested) indicates an action finished in the past, usually referring to the complete action, at a specific moment in time in many cases. 

Of the actions you have, if I've understood correctly, the mocking comes first, then the protesting by John. So it makes more sense to say:

'John protested when Jack had first starting mocking him.'

HOWEVER since these seem to be one action followed by the other (and Past Perfect is better limited) I would keep it simple and say:

'John protested when Jack first starting mocking him.'

Reversing the order as suggested makes things simpler too and puts the emphasis on the mocking which is perhaps the stronger of the two actions and more interesting for the reader to focus on.

Finally, the hard copy. And very nice it is! Your name in print - wow! Well done 🙌 

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Interesting tweet (rant?), Kate. Did it come from somewhere specific, in response to something/someone?

I agree with her on the main, though criticism is not always worded clearly (making it hard to act on) and there definitely IS an element of luck. 

I'm not sure what she means by 'workshopped'- professionally edited? 

Hi Alex. I'm more in the second camp. I found the sentence quite hard to pick apart. I'm copying it here again to avoid going up and down the page and so give specific feedback:

It didn't take Rhys Adler long to see there was something queer about the guy. Nothing gay or anything, and Adler wouldn't give a damn about that anyway, but queer--as in funny, odd, not quite right--was the word culled from the twisted diction of his mind. At the very least, the guy just didn't belong.

I have no problem with the word queer in any context and I agree that the way he's using it here says something about the character (age and background mostly), but using another ambiguous word after it (gay) strikes me as perhaps unspecific enough to leave ambiguity. I would consider cutting the first sentence more to remove the filtering:

There was something queer about the guy.

Just this. 

The second sentence is a bit long and wordy for my liking. I would chop it up a bit, clear up the 'gay' ambiguity and simplify. For example:

Nothing gay in a sexual way - not that Adler gave a damn about that (anyway). Just queer: strange, odd, not quite right.

The 'anyway' is optional (it doesn't add much, perhaps just a slight tone of Adler's voice) and I don't think the last part of this sentence is needed at all and it's the bit that tripped me up and felt flowery and forced. The last sentence is fine. So my pared down version would be:

There was something queer about the guy. Nothing gay in a sexual way - not that Adler gave a damn about that (anyway). Just queer: strange, odd, not quite right. At the very least, the guy just didn't belong. 

That's 38-39 words instead of 57 (a boon in Harry Bingham's mind) and I think it's cleaner.

I don't know if that directly answered your question, but that's my take on cleaning it up. Hope it helps in some way.

Point 8 in Laure's list is probably THE most important - I listened to a podcast yesterday with a group of agents and one of them said that if she could see from the first page that they hadn't even followed the font and spacing guidelines, she just instantly deleted it! The others didn't disagree - yikes!

I suppose this helps if the agent prints out and has several MSs in the same folder - not to mix them up - or if they open their e-reader to resume reading and can instantly see what they're reading and the author. Frankly, it's so easy to do, there's certainly no harm in it.

Yes, I think this is personal taste really. In theory, if you DON'T indent for scene changes (as Laure said) then nothing else is needed. BUT some writers prefer the addition of the * or *** anyway. I only use asterisks to denote big flashback scenes as an extra pointer.

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