Heather Alexander

SCBWI Metro NY and New School Agents Panel 2014

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.”


2013 Character Boot Camp: Voice Lessons With Heather Alexander

Originally Published: April 2013

by Gina Carey

photo by Jenna Ward

Writers who struggle with the concept of voice are frequently told, “You know it when you see it.” As Heather Alexander, assistant editor at Dial Books for Young Readers, pointed out, editors and agents also note when they don’t see it. Creating a strong, fresh voice is essential, she said, for making a book stand out.

In five “voice lessons,” Alexander discussed how writers can use voice to reveal character effectively. Here are the five components of voice that she recommended mastering, along with book recommendations where those elements of voice shine. (more…)