Saturday, February 02, 2008

Andy McGuire (Advice for Novelists, Part 9)

Here's the next installment of our series in which editors, agents, publicists and authors answer the question:

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

Surprise me. Think of an opening line that sounds like nothing you've heard before. Then follow that up with another. Then the next one. And the next. Come up with unique ways to introduce characters and plot elements. Find fresh metaphors and new insights. Avoid everything that
sounds like you've heard it before. If your manuscript continues to surprise me, I'll continue to read it. Guaranteed. Novels are a reader's way of vacationing in someone else's mind for awhile. If it feels familiar, what's the point?

Practice being creative. It's not easy, but it can be done. Daydream about outlandish things. Look at something familiar and try to come up with a bizarre metaphor to describe it. Forget the mechanics of writing for awhile and try to concentrate on saying new things in new ways.

--Andy McGuire, Fiction Acquisitions Editor, Moody Publishers


Ed J. Horton said...

Good stuff, Andy! Thank you for stating it in a way that made your point..."Novels are a reader's way of vactioning in someone else's mind for awhile."

Mary DeMuth said...

A wave to Andy...

I agree. If I ever do acquisitions, that would be the first thing I'd be looking for: stunning creativity. I want to be wowed and surprised. And I want to love the writing.

michael snyder said...

Yeah, what Mary said (about what Andy said)!


Merrie Destefano said...

I always hate posting after Michael because my jokes are so lame compared to his. So, I won't be silly. That will be my revenge.


Andy, your post was really inspirational. It's great to hear that someone likes bizarre metaphors (I think that's the only kind I know), and I completely agree with the part about taking a vacation in someone else's mind . . .

Hmmm. That even sounds like a good book idea.

Anonymous said...


You energized me with your ideas! I think this creative approach to surprise readers can help writers in many different projects. You edit engaging books such as historical fiction by Tricia Goyer.