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Write for Real Life

April 5, 2021-Sometimes by playing it safe in our writing we limit our opportunities for growth not only as authors, but in finding out about the world around us and the people that live there. Today I’m going to talk about what publisher’s want to see when it comes to pushing the envelope in your writing.

  • New solutions to old problems. If we use YA books as an example, some of the subject matter written about involves divorce, substance abuse, the character finding themselves, peer pressure, eating disorders, and more. As a publisher, I want to see new solutions to these old issues and not always a happy ending. Divorce, for example, could include the main character going to live with her grandparents or best friend’s family, or even better, striking out on her own and figuring things out herself. Maybe she sides with the mother’s new spouse or the father’s new partner, perhaps she decides to move abroad and get some space from the whole situation. The possibilities are endless, and they should all be explored when brainstorming. Going with the least obvious choice is a sure way to get your query read.
  • Fresh perspectives. Publishers are sick of seeing the same old perspective, and I’m not just talking about the type of narrative (e.g., first person), when authors submit their work. We want to see fresh perspectives, we want new voices, and we want to hear voices that have been stifled up until now. We want more diversity in the way characters are presented, where they come from, and how they see and deal with the world around them.
  • Real characters. Not every character should be white, blonde, and blue-eyed. We need to show unique characters in our writing just as we observe in the real world; people come in different shapes, sizes, abilities, challenges, and personalities and we should strive to include them because these facts are authentic, real, and sometimes raw. Think back to the last time you saw a character in a wheelchair or with leg braces on in a children’s book; what about the last time you read about a character with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy? The point is, authors need to embrace the real people, their challenges, and the situations around them.

You’ll have to do a lot of research on topics you don’t know about when writing things if they are not something that you’ve experienced such as ableism, health challenges, relationship issues, etc. But please remember to bring in the experts and do not appropriate cultures. There are a lot of stories that are not ours to tell. Stay tuned for more advice in pushing the envelope in your writing all this month. If you’d like help with your manuscript or don’t know where to start, check out some of our courses and classes here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House, Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House, Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House

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I’ve Never Done That

March 12, 2021– We’ve got another great question today from a reader in Spain. They sent us an email asking a question that comes up a lot, here it is:

Q: “I’ve heard from a lot of people that you should write what you know. I really want to write a murder mystery set in my home country, but I haven’t any experience in law enforcement and wouldn’t know how to set up the scene. Should I abandon my goal and switch topics?”

A: This is a great question! Also, I would love to visit Spain one day and I hope to do so in the near future:) No, there’s no need to switch genres just because you have no experience with murder (LOL!). Thankfully, most people don’t. But, I commend your dedication to getting it right and your commitment to credibility. As we know, credibility matters not only to your story, but also to your readers. If someone is a detective or in law enforcement and they read your book, they’ll pick up on the inconsistencies and irregularities in your story; chances are that they won’t continue to read on. This goes for all professions by the way. So, if we’ve never processed a crime scene, how are we supposed to write about it? We bring in the experts. When I was writing my thriller Obsessed with Her (available here: Obsessed with Her Novel – Pandamonium Publishing House) I was fortunate enough to have the Head of Toronto Homicide consult me on the entire project. That means he was kind enough to explain how a scene is investigated, the protocol, the terminology, and the fine details so that I could get it right. I urge you to reach out to your local law enforcement or other professionals and tell them that you’re writing a book and that you could use some advice. Want to know something kind of cool and creepy at the the same time? I was advised that my book would be kept on file for reference should anyone commit a crime that was based in my book and that I would potentially be brought in for questioning should the need arise. WOW! Talk about epic and eerie all at once! I know of some authors (who shall not be named) that have had the opportunity to go on a ride along with some police officers in their city. So, you don’t know unless you ask! If your local law enforcement says no, or you don’t feel comfortable asking, you can research whatever you’re looking for in true crime books, true crime documentaries, and by watching police based shows such as Cops etc. Be sure to watch and read TRUE stories as sometimes the wording and processing on television is less than accurate. Best of Luck!