~ ~ ~
This past week I’ve been on a ‘sunset-photo-collecting spree. Every evening the sky has flamed with streaks of gold and orange, apricot, pink and purple, and occasionally even red. It’s been glorious!
(A click will enlarge photos for an improved view.)
I wasn’t seeking impressive photo compositions, just shots of the sky, but in the city it isn’t easy to find a location with an uninterrupted view of the heavenly display. My choice of picture-taking locations are pretty tame compared to my son-in-law’s innovativeness. Some shots turned out uninteresting, despite the colours… a little too “quiet”. Then I came across literary agent Carly Watters’ recent blog post about stories being too quiet and was intrigued with the comparison — even good writing can produce uninteresting results. As Carly puts it, “It can be very well written but it might fall into the ‘forgettable’ category.” What makes a novel stand out? Or, conversely, what causes it to be forgettable? Check out Carly’s post here, and then evaluate your current work. Will it stand out as an extraordinary read, or just an ordinary one?
(Carly Watters is an Associate Agent at the P.S. Literary Agency.)
~ ~ ~
When the sun’s last blush is fading and evening prepares for nightfall, the usual quietness here becomes a noticeable hush. The birds that have busily flittered and twittered around all day suddenly react as if a signal has declared their bedtime.
Trees blacken in silhouette. Mist from the marsh beyond them begins to rise against a distant hill and the air freshens with nighttime earthiness. One by one, tree frogs begin their chorus.
As darkness settles in, I begin writing.
When is your favourite time to begin your day’s writing?
Peach sunset colours fade to soft rose and lavender over a somber sea. “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Gulls screech and dance in the stiff onshore breeze while a lone eagle disappears in the distance.
I scuff through the sand and stones, always hopeful that I’ll discover a bit of sea glass. My daughter lives near here and has gathered a multi-hued collection. I’ve yet to find any. But along the beach occasional shells stand out, white against the blue-grey stones.
On the outside oyster shells are a chalky unimpressive white. Inside they’re smooth and satiny, sometimes quite pearlescent. On rare occasions they might even contain a pearl. A treasure.
You know there’s an analogy coming, right?
Like the miles of beach stones and sand, there are millions of mediocre books on the market. What does it take to make one stand out? Some might suggest a great cover, but, while that would get me to pick it up, I’ll still turn it over to check for other things before deciding to keep it. I’ll be looking for something special inside, hoping to find a real treasure… a wonderful story written with passion about unique characters.
What are your requirements when you go looking for a new book? What makes a book stand out for you?