by Adria Quiñones
The November Professional Series agents panel, always a sold-out event, was for the first time presented jointly with the New School’s Writing for Children MFA program and held at the New School. Each agent on the panel gave a specific piece of writing advice; afterwards, they fielded questions on submitting manuscripts (a book should be as good as you can make it), query letters (do your research, proofread your letter and don’t forget the hooks) and the life of an agent.
Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary Media: ”Two pieces of advice”
Show, don’t tell.
While this rule is often quoted as a narrative technique, Townsend applied it to the story’s emotional underpinning. “When I became an agent, I expected to see terrible manuscripts, but for the most part, I see a lot of manuscripts that are good–but they are only good. You want yours to be better.”
What makes the difference is the author’s ability to connect the reader to the character. “I often see great voice, great concept, great pacing, but I have trouble connecting to the character emotionally–the character is almost held at a distance, and then it’s hard to feel like you want to follow this person.” Emotion has to be appropriate to the age group, authentic to the character and integrated into the story. “Make sure you have a balance between what the character tells in their voice and what you show through the character’s actions.”