Thursday, January 28

Something Different

I'm going to start off with a quote from agent Nathan Bransford, "Think about what everyone else would do, then do something different."

I entered my first contest for this year, Chicago-North's Fire & Ice contest. I entered the first 23 pages of Bixby's story. And even though the Fire and Ice contest is sponsored by an RWA organization, there is no romance in those first 23 pages (or the 50 I've completed). There's not one paranormal character to be found and there are sentient adults--in a YA manuscript. Agh...(Watch the teens run screaming from the room.) In today's tough teen market I've broken just about every rule.

I'm really going out on the "do something different" limb, but will it pass muster in a traditional contest? Will making the reader laugh make up for not having a vampire or ghost in the story? Will the lesbian wiseacre make up for the Bixby's lack of girlfriend tension? Will paintball become the national past time? Probably not, but you have to admit, it's something different.

Nathan Bransford was talking about query letters, but I hope his advice will hold true for writing in general. As long as the story and the writing is able to support the "something different", hopefully the readership will follow. I know I like the something different writers. Mr. Bransford ended with this, "And trust me, when writing a query, entering a contest, or writing a grant it pays to stand out from the crowd."

So, here's to doing something different and standing out from the crowd. I'll let you know if it works. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your comments.


  1. Margie--
    Bix is such a great story! I think it will make anyone stand up and take notice. I think the different elements is just what the YA genre needs!
    Werewolves and vamps are great, but so is a 4 foot eight paintballer!
    I think you'll sell this one!

  2. I'm with you. I love the "something different" books. They're the ones that usually find a permanent place on my book shelf. Good luck with the contest!

  3. You know I'm crazy about Bixby - but I do wonder why you entered it in a romance contest? Your writing is beyond good enough, but I'd hate to see you get disqualified. Here's hoping they recognize and reward the talent.

  4. I love Bix, too, and if he's different, I want more of it.

    I've never thought that much about it, but I do know I read more for voice than for story; Bix has both.

  5. Christi,
    In the YA division, they don't have to have the same romantic stipulations that the other categories have.In fact, if you read the critique sheets they ask more about the teen voice sounding real and stuff like that. But, you never know how a judge is going to interpret that. And if you get a judge who doesn't write YA or know the market, that can sometimes hurt. But, I wanted to get some fresh eyes on it to see if someone who doesn't "know" me, would like it as well as you all do.

  6. I'm not YA, but my nieces are ... and they'd love Bix. In fact, over the holidays, they were wallowing in sadness over the fact that they can't find any good non-vamp, non-relationship-heavy books. good luck!!!