Today, I received my weekly Writer’s Digest. If you were me, you too would be excited about an issue with the enticing cover: “Meet your future agent!” Why yes, yes I’d like to meet my future agent, how’d you know!? I am Writer’s Digest’s ultimate target market – frothing at the mouth for tips! Writing tips, I mean 😉
So, I opened up to page 21 as instructed and there “25 Agents Seeking New Writers” waited. I found something, er, funny. Did you know that all of the agents on those pages are looking for “good writing?” They also want “the kinds of books that generate interest.” And, of course, “well written dialogue.” Wait, so literary agents, actually want quality, polished work, that will sell? Bahahaha! No WAY!?
I didn’t learn much from the “what these agents are after” sections, beyond their genre preferences of course. Because if I were an agent I too would REQUIRE good writing from my potential representees. I wouldn’t just want a good story, I’d want one that’s insightful, and interesting, and intriguing – cliché free, with a dash of moving prose that delights or drives me to tears. I’d seek a book that makes the rounds like a shiny show pony, prancing through book clubs beautifully, collecting gold coins as it goes. THAT’s what I’d want, and that’s what THEY ALL want too. Something that will SELL. And in a world full of vapid reality television (Bachelor Pad? Thought provoking? No. Entertaining. Yes.), clever, well crafted stories still do well. It gives me hope, actually. The world’s collective brain may not be turning to mush after all.
So, while I work on my own story, willing it with every word to be smart and strong, grooming it for the show ring, maybe I should continue my writing industry research. It’s true that the magazine article threw out buzz words that were insulting no brainers (thank’s for the heads up, April Eberhardt, you want “carefully crafted narratives”), a few terms perplexed me. What’s a “single-title” romance? What’s “magical realism?” How about a “procedural crime” novel – can you point me to one of those? And should I even care? Probably not. Because what’s genre matter if my pony can’t dance?