Each year, I try to attend the Boston Book Festival, held in October. It’s a well-organized event that has a little something for everyone.
As usual, I made sure to attend the event I look forward to each year, Writer Idol. It is exactly what it sounds like–a literary version of American Idol. Brave writers submit the first page of their work, and someone reads them aloud. Three agents listen intently. They raise a hand when they would have stopped reading the submission, and when two of the three agents have raised their hand, the work stops being read. The agents then explain why they stopped reading.
I have never submitted my pages for this event (I am SO NOT BRAVE!), but I love listening to everyone else’s work, and it’s always interesting to watch the agent’s faces as they listen. It’s especially interesting to hear their thoughts on why they stopped.
Here are the takeaway lessons I got from this year’s Writer Idol event.
*New writers often “over-write.” The agents stressed that excellent writing should sound like the author barely put any effort into the prose. It should not be clunky or “too creative.”
*Writers need to simplify. Or, as one agent put it, “You don’t need all that shit!”
*Get rid of all the adjectives.
All of these lessons are sort of the same idea, but since I’m not allowed to over-write my manuscript, I figured I could take advantage and spell it all out in a blog post. 😉
I commend all of the brave, thick-skinned souls who submitted their work to be torn apart for the benefit of all.
So to my reader friends–please feel sorry for the writers who have to craft stories around all these dang rules we’re given every other minute. (No adverbs, no adjectives, no over-writing, no under-writing, no this, no that, blah blah blah). And to all of my writer friends–have a great big drink (and don’t forget to invite me!)