Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Steve Laube (Advice for Novelists, Part 6)

Our series of blog posts in which industry professionals (editors, agents, publicists, authors, etc.) continues with thoughts from Steve Laube.

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

A great story is the key. A fresh story is even better! We are deluged by unsolicited proposals with stories that all sound the same. But every once in a while comes that great story with a fresh take and style. Next month look for My Name Is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder (Zondervan) as an example of something that fits that criteria. In addition see When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall (Waterbrook), Dinner With A Perfect Stranger by David Gregory (Waterbrook), The Secret Life of Becky Miller by Sharon Hinck (Bethany House), and Coldwater Revival by Nancy Jo Jenkins. All these titles are debut novelists that captured the attention and imagination of
our agency.

As one fiction teacher put it, "Create a plot...not a plod." (Carol Gift Page)

Try to avoid starting the novel with back-story. This is a common mistake. Makes the opening boring to read.

Another key to great fiction is the use of dialogue. The character's voice must come through as distinct from other characters in the scene. This is a very difficult thing to do, and only the great writers pull it off.

Which brings me to my last point. We see a LOT of really good writers. But we like to only represent the great ones. We have placed a dozen debut novelists over the last three years. We are always looking for the "next best."

Steve Laube, The Steve Laube Agency (Click here for their guidelines)


Nicole said...

Please forgive me for this: Come on!

This is just too typical. I'm sorry. I so disagree with this. The Steve Laube Agency has the corner on all "great" writers? While almost all writing advice is profitable in its context to both new and old writers, definitive instruction is about as helpful as listing the Ten Commandments. We all know we're not perfect writers, and we certainly know we've read imperfect novels by other writers. This is such a subjective business--good, bad, and mediocre writers have experienced "success" with tried and true, unusual, or even trite offerings of literature.

C.J. Darlington said...

Well, certainly everyone is allowed their opinion, but I'm just glad Steve willingly gave us his advice. He's a well-respected agent, and I for one am thrilled to feature him here.

Nicole said...


This is not a slight to you or to Mr. Laube. He's a highly recognized and hard working agent and a true gentleman.

Perhaps I'm the only one who's tired of publishing platitudes. "Great" is in the eye of the reader, and the diversity of opinion, i.e. subjectivity, is off the charts.

I am sorry if I offended you, CJ.

Mike Dellosso said...

Thanks for doing this series, CJ. Great stuff. I posted a little heads-up on my blog to send people over to read it.

Great idea!

Rachelle said...

Right on, Steve. I agree with everything you said.

C.J. Darlington said...

No worries, Nicole. :) And thanks for your comments, Mike & Rachelle.

michael snyder said...

I followed the link from f*i*f. This is good stuff, CJ (the entire series).

And thanks to Steve for the for the uber-kind words!


Merrie Destefano said...

I really like your advice, Steve. "A great story is the key."

And I have to say, three cheers to Michael! Congrats, once again, on your new book. I hope you sell a million, zillion. Even if I did make up that number.


Sue Dent said...

I'm with you Nicole. The only difference is I wish Mr. Laube would say what he's really looking for so as not to discourage good Chrisian authors. What the Laube agency is looking for is the next best for the niche CBA/ECPA market, a market that serves conservative evangelicals and not the genreal Christian market.

Hearing that would be nice! :)