Monday, October 30, 2006

Writing Sample: Beginning or Middle of the Novel?

Hi Tom,
Love the book, it's been very useful. I have a quick question
regarding writing samples. If I have a novel excerpt I want to use as
the writing sample can I submit a part from the middle if it seems to
stand on its own? Is it acceptable to put a few explanatory contextual
sentences and then give them pages 20-50? Or is this ridiculous and I
should just give them the very beginning? Thanks.

Oscillating in Oakland.


OiO, I can't say for sure, since I don't know the writing samples. That said, and man-facting, I'd go with your strongest work. And, I'd add a short note at the beginning that says, "I wanted to send my strongest work, and here it is. It's not the very beginning of my novel, so three things you have to know are..."

Get it all into one paragraph, OiO. Keep it straightforward and direct.

If I was doing this for say, The Winged Girl, I would write: "Natalie was fifteen in section one, she considered having her wings surgically removed, but then decided to keep them. She speaks with a tiger in her dreams. And she was rejected very harshly and publically by a boy named Jacob, who she is still in love with. Thanks."

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