Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ya, Gotta Be Different. Adding the WOW Factor!

This is always a tough one for writers.

Each week, agents receive piles of submissions, either via email or snail mail. Some are requests from eariler proposals, some are unsolicited. Regardless of how these stories arrived, we simply have to remember that in the end, there is a lot. Add in the fact that the editors and agents already have clients they are in love with and you have a huge competition issue. Somehow, you have to get your story to the top of my list.

So how do you do it? Chocolate? No. Bribery gets you no where. In the end, it has to be your story that does it. Somehow, in some way, you have to make me think your story is better than chocolate. This is where the writers often fail.

We frequently see a lot of stories that are well written. You as a writer may have received a few rejection letters telling you the writing is fine. What you were missing was that WOW Factor. That element that makes me want to keep the book in my hands and not stop. It may be the character, it may be the setting, it may be the style. Something has to be there.

I am currently reading Ann Rice's new book ANGEL TIME and for me, the story did just that. O.K. It's not WITCHING HOUR which I just love, but there was a wow factor that had me hooked from the beginning. The main character is a cold heartless assassin and he is given the choice to continue what he is doing or learn to save people instead by a seraph sent to help him. Cool twist. But in this case, Ms. Rice takes it a step further by really getting me into the head of Toby, the main character. I am simply sucked into his life.

Now, for new writers, this is often tough. We attend classes and are taught techniques that will "sell that book." We follow comments from people like me that say to figure out what the successful people are doing out there and do that. Sure these techniques help, but it is still up to you as a writer to find that way to make your story stand out. It is up to you to find a way to make me not want to write "same old, same old" in my data base after your name.



  1. Scott, you may say chocolate doesn't work, but how about a pinch of glitter in the envelope?

    Don't tell me that won't wow an agent, particularly when combined with unusual fonts in novel colours, and photos of one's pet cat.

  2. I am hoping you are joking about this. Editors and agents already hate it when we receive packages with packing noodles or even those "recycled ones" with the stuffing on the inside. We rip it open and then spend the next week cleaning up the mess.

  3. What, you don't go for glitter? Not even the multi-coloured kind?

    Now those tiny gold stars, I bet you like them. And a subtle hint of perfume on the page...and pastel stationery. Calculated to delight an agent before he has read a word :o)