Adding Tension, Conflict and Stakes to a Novel That's Not Working
In today's Books With Hooks, Carly and CeCe look at two critiques each, discussing the importance of using sharp specifics and strong interiority; ensuring there’s tension and stakes in the first pages; having distinct character voices; dropping hints but leaving them unanswered; challenges with omniscient POV; keeping all the metadata together in one paragraph; stories within stories slowing down the pacing; leaning into complicated emotions and revealing contradictions from the get-go; and making intentional stylistic choices, especially in literary fiction.
After which, Bianca chats with Amita Parikh, author of The Circus Train, about choosing comps; hitting the sweet spot to get agents’ attention; what to do if you keep getting rejections; adding tension and conflict and stakes to a novel that’s not working; writing at a scene and chapter level; writing historical events as a backdrop, not a history lesson; and not allowing your character to have the benefit of your hindsight when dealing with historical times/events.
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