Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wendy Loggia: the Novel

Wendy Loggia of Delacorte/Random House

Wendy Loggia is the executive editor at Delacorte/Random House. She spoke about the novel--what makes them work, why she acquires what she does, and what writers should avoid doing.

She became an editor because she loves books, and the ones she publishes are ones she would've loved to read when she was growing up. When she's looking at a manuscript, “I’m looking for a special kind of magic. I’m hoping to find something that moves me. words that seem so special and fresh I want to read them over and over again.”

It's important to have an interesting story that's well executed with a clear concept in mind. For example, Lauren Kate's FALLEN series, aims for readers who loved TWILIGHT.

Beyond concept, though, a novel needs to have sensory appeal. She talked about five books that stirred her senses (including one she didn't edit but loves anyway).

Hearing: This is where voice comes in. A good writer's voice takes familiar things and crafts sentences and a narrative that let a reader see something in a new way. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which she edited, is a great example of this.

Sight: The author must have a vision and a clear direction they want to go in, something you can see on the page. Likewise, the editor has to have a vision. Will it please her colleagues? Would people pay money for it? And then there's the literal sense of vision, in which a book unfolds in a reader's mind like a movie. An upcoming book, STARTERS, does just this.

Touch: We want to feel something when we read. She loves the work of Sarah Dessen and IF I STAY by Gayle Forman. BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver is a book she wishes she'd edited. One way to understand what touches teens emotionally is to read the books, magazines and blogs they like. Read the reviews--find out what kids are saying about books. Watch their TV, too.

Smell: Does it smell "like teen spirit"? GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray has that authentic teen feel. "It defies convention," she says. "It's funny, it's smart, it's surreal."

Taste: What’s your taste as a reader? What do you like to read? What do you like to write? What comes naturally to you, she says. "If you don’t like something, don’t try to write it because somebody else likes it and will do it better than you do."

And a few mistakes to avoid (there were more, but we'll just share a few):
  • Don’t ruin your chances by not formatting properly; 
  • Don’t classify your manuscript in a genre/age group that it isn’t. If you’re not sure, don’t put a label on it; and 
  • Don’t get hung up on giving manuscript a title

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