Tag Archive - Dario Villirilli

Querying Basics: 5 Tips for Landing a Literary Agent

Today’s guest post is by Dario Villirilli.

Writing a great book is not quite all it takes to get published. No matter how remarkable your manuscript may be, you’ll first have to effectively pitch it to literary agents. This entails crafting a great query letter, following industry dos and don’ts, ensuring the timing is right, utilizing the appropriate format, and targeting agents who are searching for projects like your own.

While rejection is an inevitable part of the journey, there are actions you can take to increase the chances of your query letter being read and seriously considered. So, in this post, we’ll share five tips to help you along the way. For a deeper dive into the art of querying, check out Susanne’s own guide.

1. Query when you’re ready

Since the querying process can extend over months (and sometimes years!), many debut authors make the mistake of starting to query their novel two or three quarters into its development. They assume that by the time they receive a response from an agent, their work will be complete and ready. But this approach holds two primary pitfalls.

First and foremost, you cannot predict when an agent will reply. It could take months, but it could also happen within minutes. If they request your manuscript and it’s not ready, you’ll likely miss your chance because they have nothing to evaluate or sell. Continue Reading…

5 World-Building Tips to Write a Captivating Novel

Today’s guest post is by Dario Villirilli.

In storytelling, world building is the process of constructing an (often imaginary) world in which the story takes place. The art of creating new worlds is essential for  the sci-fi or fantasy writer, but it’s helpful for writers of other genres too, as it is part and parcel of crafting powerful settings.

Mastering world building, however, can be quite a challenge: for entirely fictional worlds, you’ll have to introduce lots of novel concepts and details without confusing, overwhelming, or boring the reader (whereas setting your story in our world can be slightly more straightforward).

So, if you want to learn more about it or simply improve your craftsmanship, here are five tips to create fascinating new worlds.

1.   Draw inspiration from real places.

It might seem daunting to imagine a brand-new environment, but it doesn’t have to be. Our own planet has plenty of unique and awe-inspiring places that might as well belong on another planet. Take the dramatic Zhangjiajie mountains in northeast China (which inspired Avatar’s Pandora), the Peruvian city of Huacachina, built in a desert oasis, or the Mars-like landscape of the Atacama desert in Chile—aren’t they “out of this world”?

So, put your Curious Researcher’s hat on, and start Googling places that could inspire your story. Spend some time learning about the flora, fauna, and customs of people living in those areas. Keep your favorite details, and build on top of them by adding layers of new technology and magic.

Having a reference point will help you detail your world faster and better bring your setting to life. You’ll be able to create something that stretches the reader’s imagination … but still feels real. Continue Reading…

7 Ways to Improve Your Writing Craft

Today’s guest post is by Dario Villirilli.

To become a skilled writer you need to pour blood, sweat, and tears into your craft for years—and no amount of good advice will get you there overnight. That said, if you’re here, chances are you’ve already started your journey and you’re now looking to level up your writing skills.

Whether you write for fun or you want to make writing your career, the 7 tips in this article are sure to help you improve your craft and become a better writer.

1. Embrace outlining as your friend

It’s often said that there are two types of writers: those who over-plan and those who don’t plan at all. Regardless of which camp you belong to, know that the purpose of outlining is to help you make progress with your story, not to limit it.

When you tend to adhere too strictly to a predetermined plot, you risk being predictable and losing readers’ attention. If that’s you, next time you reach a point where you’re unsure about how things should unfold, let yourself stay in that uncertainty a bit longer and see where it leads you. You might be surprised at how the story can evolve and still fall into the overarching narrative.

If, on the other hand, you’re a pantser, consider pausing after your first 30-50 pages to channel that inspiration and draft a novel structure. You’ll find that having some beats mapped out can help you find the focus you need whenever you get stuck (plus, you’ll finish your book sooner!). Continue Reading…