Skip to main content

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.

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?
Image placeholder title

Bob Mayer(right) speaking with
an attendee at theHAWC.


From Script

Character Studies, Writing the Immigrant Experience, and Six Adaptation Steps Before You Adapt a Book (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, navigate different character study approaches in your writing, and tracking emotional journeys.

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Author Lora Senf discusses how one chilling text message led her to writing her new middle grade horror novel, The Clackity.

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.