Words of Wisdom: Author Bob Mayer

Searching for some fiction writing advice? Look no further than Bob Mayer, a man with many accomplishments. Mayer has written more than 35 novels, has been on just about every bestseller list out there, and is now with his fourth literary agent.

He presented at the HAWC this past weekend; here are some of his precious nuggets of wisdom for fiction writers:

  • If you’re writing genre material, it’s probably best to “frontload” the work, meaning you can outline heavily before delving into the work.
  • Don’t start your query letter with “I’ve just written a novel…”  The agent realizes this.
  • Know the difference between lecturing the reader and entertaining. “As fiction writers, we are entertainers,” he says.
  • Writers often don’t sell their first novel because the story is about the writer’s life and problems. “First novels tend to be blood-lettings,” he says, “and they’re focused on you, not the reader.”
  • Agents look for solid characters in fiction work. To demonstrate this point, Mayer brought up the TV show, “The Closer,” which is essentially just one of countless cop shows, but succeeds because of great characters.
  • The protagonist must be reluctant to get involved. They should also be likeable and interesting, but also different and flawed.
  • Give your work high stakes. What will happen if the protagonist fails? 

Bob Mayer (right) speaking with
an attendee at the
HAWC.


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