Thursday, 27 September 2012

Book Pitch Rejections #2

I thought I'd post up some more recent rejections I've had from agents.

The Tangle Wood Disaster
The evil house developer Bryan Homes have bought Tangle Wood wood and plans to build a housing estate on it. Can Jimmy Acorn the oak sappling unite the warring tree clans and defeat the builders? Of course not, he's a tree.

Response from Copse Burning Agency: Very wooden.

Is this My Arse or My Elbow?
Picture book for kids that are likely to grow into middle managers.

Response from Tim E. Sheets & Associates: We're interested but would like to engage with some focus groups, run it up the flagpole  and see if it lights any bulbs.

The Casual Vacancy at Snogwarts
When Prof Bumblemore dies unexpectedly, the idyll school of Snogwarts is left in shock. But what lurks beneath Snogwarts prim exterior is a school riven with sexual tension and spanking. It's Harry Potter with all the discipline it lacked and Snape as you've never seen him before, in a gimp suit.

Response from Throbbing Knights Agency: Completely inappropriate.

Don't worry, I'll be back.



Thursday, 20 September 2012

Amazing Writing Advice #16: Getting The Word Count Right

Earlier this week a well respected agent mentioned a manuscript with a paltry word count of 313,455. Why so low, people? You need to get that word count up! There's a simple formula all publishers use when choosing a book:

Words == ££££££

You need to make sure you're manuscript is as long as possible. Now here are some tricks of the trade:

  1. Move any scene with dialogue into a big cave. Words echo, and echo words count too. Also the echoes make sentences more dramatic. Example, "Where's the tin opener? opener? pener? ener?" I've nearly doubled the word count of that sentence there and it sent more than a shiver down my spine!
  2. Give characters large objects to move. Then punctuate the conversation with "To me." and To you." This can last for hours. Trust me, I've seen it on TV.
  3. Have characters put together furniture (fits in well with the above). One character can then read out the instructions. If you really need to bump it up, have them put together a nuclear power plant.
  4. Make characters drive somewhere, have them play i-spy.
  5. Make one of the characters a teenage girl. They never shut up.
  6. Have one of the characters read another book. Paste that book into your book.
  7. Have them go to a nightclub. Include all the words from the songs playing.
  9. Set it in the future where everyone has a binary name. One zero one one zero one one one looked at zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero one, "I'm stuck on you, Zeroie, like a robot stuck on a magnet." 
  10. Set it in a time loop like one of those bad Star Trek episodes. Repeat the first 50,000 words again and again until the robot realises what's going on.
Soon you'll have the minimum 500k to make your manuscript a must have for every editor in the business.



Thursday, 13 September 2012

Stripping the Pitch

Nick drapes a friendly arm around my shoulders.

"Don't worry," he says, walking me through the grubby door. "The first time's always the worst."

Dark rickety stairs lead down into a small bright room crammed with people.

Nick pushes me through the crowd. I bump into a girl, her eyes dart up from her manuscript, flash contempt then return to the text. She begins whispering the same line over and over.

"...Blade Runner meets Harry Potter..."

"Here we are," Nick waves an old man from a seat and shoves me into it. "So you're all set?"

"Yeah, I think so," I reply, looking back to the girl. she's biting her lip, every finger is crossed.

Nick leans back against the wall, letting his head thunk against it.

"Look, Mark, there's no 'think so' about it. If you aren't ready they'll eat you alive."

A man with a clipboard waves at the girl and leads her through a curtain. Seconds later I hear muffled cheering.

The old man who Nick has moved is standing next to me muttering.

"...Star Wars with mice..."

"It can't be that bad," I say, but my whole body disagrees.

The curtain pulls back and the man with the clipboard waves at Nick.

"You'll be fine," Nick drags me to my feet. "Just don't let them rattle you."

The man with a clipboard looks me up and down.

"First time?"


"Well, it's a big crowd tonight, just remember that's a good thing."

He holds the curtain aside and I walk out and squint against the bright lights. I'm on a tiny stage, only room for me and the sharp drop. Through the lights I can make out dozens of eyes staring up at me through the smoke and booze fumes.

The cheering starts. It knocks me back and I turn trying to find the man with the clipboard.

"What do I..."
Someone whistles, others start banging tables.


I turn back.

"Look, I..."

"PITCH! PITCH! PITCH! PITCH!" the crowd cry out.

I freeze. The cries continue, someone throws a slice of lemon at me. It smells of gin.

I close my eyes, breathe and pitch.

"Oh, look at the hook on that."

"Yeah but the synopsis sags in the middle badly."

"Great voice."

"Not sure about the title."

I finish, and open my eyes. I'm no longer on the stage but in an alley. Nick is nowhere to be seen. Someone sniffs behind a bin and I see the girl, tears streaking her cheeks and manuscript.

A large shiny car pulls up at the end of the alley, one of the rear doors opens.

I climb in.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Amazing Writing Advice #15: Write the Truth?!

There's this bloke, let's call him Bob. He was waffling on about writing once and said,

"We have only one responsibility: to tell the truth."

What is he on about? You'll see fly-by-night authors banging on about the truth all the time, spouting off about how their story shows a universal truth. But I've read their books and, I can tell you, hardly anyone dies and there is nothing in there about taxes.

These people are trying to trick you, or maybe they're on mad badger drugs. The truth is boring and cruel. If you write about the truth you'll get a story about a boy who isn't a wizard, going to school. Or a girl who goes to school and doesn't have amazing powers and doesn't get adopted by the lovely (and, in the film, hot teacher). The mice won't talk, they'll die painful deaths after eating poison. The lovely black horse will be boiled into glue.  Danny's dad will be banged up and he'll be put in a home. The naughtiest girl in the school will get expelled. The pig would eat the spider then get turned into bacon. The Hardy boys would be found floating dead off the coast as a warning to other meddling kids...

It goes on.

So whatever you do, don't write the truth. Make everything crazy and exciting and a big lie. Explosions should fill every page. Women should be hot and have awesome racks (this is what they mean by write for yourself). The men should wear no shoes and white vests. Cats should fly, dogs be detectives and caterpillars gangsters. Don't worry about the plot or meaning or anything like that, just avoid the boring truth. No one's interested.

All the best,