Critical Reader Checklist: Act 1

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Act 1 is crucial in guiding readers into your character’s world and maintaining reader engagement. Critical readers can help you evaluate how your writing impacts on unfamiliar readers, but in my experience, if you don’t ask critical readers to comment on anything in particular, they may only comment on what annoys them, what they love and if they’re writers -their personal strengths of writing craft. This may exclude aspects of your craft -or any particular novel- you are still developing. This post is a list of reflective questions to help guide holistic critical reader feedback.

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Social Media For Writers

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Social media is an ideal space to think about how you present and to begin interacting publicly as a writer. Twitter and Instagram have thriving Writing Communities, where you can find your tribe. A Facebook page (or Instagram) are great spaces to share your writing life and books with personal contacts, while any of these plus Pinterest, Youtube and others are potential spaces to reach readers and promote your published works. So which social media is most appropriate to you as a writer, which account is best to start with and how do you get started?

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9 Tips For The First 5 Pages

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With many literary agents wanting only the first 5-10 pages with a query, those opening pages are crucial to readers and traditional publishing alike. Yet as a critical reader, the main advice I’ve given is to delete or re-write whole paragraphs. To help you reflect upon and edit, or plan and write your opening pages in a clear and engaging way, I’ll unpack 9 reflective questions.

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Comprehensive Query Letter Tips

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If you’re new to querying, there’s a general structure for query letters, but there are also specifics about which literary agents may have differing personal preferences. In this post, I draw on what I’ve learnt from giving feedback on an estimated thirty queries, and reading a similar number of successful ones, to provide structure and advice on specifics (with tips on how to identify literary agent preferences 😉.)

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Querying Experience Interviews

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As a member of a querying writers group, I’ve watched writers wait 6 months to receive full manuscript rejections, or go months without receiving so much as a form rejection for queries. I’ve learned a lot about having realistic expectations and how to tackle the querying process. In this post, I interview some of those writers, with the aim of giving newly querying writers insights into what to expect on your journey, and advice. And to give those of you already on your querying journey a chance to reflect and possibly tweak your approach to querying.

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Critical Reader Checklist: Chapter 1

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Critique partner and beta reader feedback can be gold, but as editing is a complex task, it can be difficult to decide what exactly you’d like critical readers to comment on, especially in the crucial first chapter. The reflective questions in this post will help guide critical reader feedback (and in some cases self-editing), giving you insight into how engaging, well paced and easy or difficult to follow unfamiliar readers found your opening chapter.

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World Building: Food & Fashion

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To write civilizations comparable to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, I’d need to draw on my double major in archaeology and history to break down every major and minor component of world building. This series of posts will attempt precisely that, and explore how different factors within a world affect and shape each other. This week I’ve paired Food with Fashion, because both are closely linked to plants and animals, all of which is influenced by geography, climate and trade.

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Crafting a Quality Book Pitch

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With thousands of pitches set to pour through Twitter’s #Pitmad feed for literary agent and indie publisher perusal on Thursday, its time to tell you everything I know about crafting a quality pitch (illustrated with tweet pitch examples, though advice here also applies to query letter pitches). I’ll also give you advice on preparing for pitch party days, which can be chaotic, stressful and discouraging if you participate on your own.

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