Make the bad stuff worse . . .

When I landed my excellent agent, Ann Rittenberg, and she offered me advice for rewriting my manuscript so it would sell well, one of the general notes she gave me (that absolutely made A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT a better book) was . . . make the bad stuff worse. When I asked what she meant, she told me to look at all the bad stuff that happens to the characters in my story and make those things even harder for them.

If you suspect you might be treating your characters too kindly (a common problem with first novels) go back through your manuscript and make the problems thrown at your people bigger problems, make the danger more dangerous, make the disturbing circumstances more disturbing. (That’s how the Prayer Corner in SLANT was created.) The higher the stakes, the more the readers will need to keep reading.

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