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Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:51 am

Ask away!

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:04 am

I am here! Ask me anything! What did I have for dinner last night? What's my favorite pair of shoes? If I could be secretly flown to any locale, where would I choose? I will answer.

But book and publishing related questions are probably preferable. . . .
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:26 am

If you could be secretly flown to any locale, where would you choose? ^^ Hehe! JK.

I do have a question though. I was talking to a writer recently about this, but what are your thoughts on 1st person vs. 3rd person characters, and how that affects their likeability? We were discussing how often characters in 1st person seem to be less likeable, and how many that's related to how close you are to them, being right in their thoughts and all. What do you think?

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:46 am

I was talking to a writer recently about this, but what are your thoughts on 1st person vs. 3rd person characters, and how that affects their likeability? We were discussing how often characters in 1st person seem to be less likeable, and how many that's related to how close you are to them, being right in their thoughts and all. What do you think?

This is a really interesting question. I think there are pros and cons to both 1st person and 3rd person narration. As you said, 1st perosn allows you to be closer to the character, right in his or her thoughts, but that's both a blessing and a curse. Here's an example. Pam Bachorz's Candor is narrated in 1st person by Oscar who is not exactly the nicest of people when the book begins. Being so close to him really allows the reader to understand his motivations, and see his transformation, which is incredibly edifying. But let's remember - he's not the nicest when the novel opens - so you find yourself constantly questioning his motives, and for some readers, that may make him a bit hard to embrace.

You also have to think about the limitations of first person - there are things that the character simply cannot know. In a first person narration, Character Zed (I've been hanging around Brits far too much) cannot know what Character X (sorry, just a regular "X" here) is thinking, or what the motivations are for this action, or what happened in San Diego when Zed was in Baltimore. Zed just can't. So how do you work with this critical piece of information? Does someone have to tell Zed these things? This is where writing needs to be creative, and can get complex. But that's, of course, the challenge of being a writer.

So now we're on to third person, right? Well that can open up immense vistas for what the reader can know that characters don't becasue we can align with different characters, and that tricksy narrator can be (but doesn't have to be) omniscient and a character in his or her own right. My favorite example? Look at the narrators in the works of Jane Austen - Emma is a particular favorite example of this. The narrator is right in there keeping the reader aprised of the action, but she's also very liberal in introducing her own rather wry social commentary. So not only are you getting the action of the novel, but you're getting an additional layer that can create quite the rich experience.

But what of the limitations of this choice? Can you trust your narrator now? If they're inserting their own views, how do you know if the views are reliable? And can you get that same level of closeness and that sense of suspense you have with first person where your view is limited?

My feeling is that you should pick the narration that is right for your story. It's funny, I suppose, but as an editor I never really pay attention to whether the narration is first person or thrid person until it becomes a problem. If the choice of perspective in your novel is working, it should just seamlessly melt into the background as one of the elements that contributes to the success of your narrative. At least, that's what I think.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:29 pm

I want to hear from all of you: What genres are you totally over? What stylistic devices do you feel are so overdone they should be abandoned for good? What should just be killed off forever (or at least for a few years?)

I want to know (so I know what I don't want to buy)! (Kidding!!!)
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:36 pm

@Alison Wow!! Thank you for that. What an excellent answer! I've actually rarely ventured (whilst writing in 3rd person) stepping into any other head except my main character's, because I've read so many books where they head jump too often ("MC and X didn't see the dark shadow that slipped around the corner" -- if they didn't see it, why are we hearing about it???) or step out of heads altogether (like that example) and it's always kind of stood out to me like a sore thumb, like it shouldn't have been there, or like there are too many scenes/chapters switching from head to head (even the little farm girl from the south who has minor, minor part in the story!).

So your answer "If the choice of perspective in your novel is working, it should just seamlessly melt into the background as one of the elements that contributes to the success of your narrative." really clinches it for me. I agree and that's awesome. So now I have a goal; make the perspective seamlessly melt into the background! No sore thumbs. ^^

As for the answer to your question:

Wow. Hmm. Well, I haven't read much paranormal; in fact, I've barely read anything. But for whatever reason I'm totally over it. I think because of the huge sensation and hype it created, and then all the really lame TV shows that spun off of the hype, I just don't want to hear about another vampire or see another dead-looking girl ever again. Which feels to me like a weird response, considering I've read little to none.

One stylistic thing that I don't like and that instantly turns me off a novel is when, in internal dialogue, the main character will say (for example) "Yeah, I don't really like that either." It's like they're talking to US, as readers, and it's a stylistic thing, but to me it's just kind of jarring and annoying. It kind of pulls me out of the story and adds a certain attitude to the character that puts me off. Maybe there was someone really annoying in my life at one point who spoke like that? Wink I don't know why. But I prefer to just be told the story, not spoken to directly like that, no matter how quirky or if it's the personality of the character.

So as far as killing off forever (or a couple years) I'd say kill the vampires, werewolves, and general blood-sucking flesh-eating types that are glamorized and romanticized. It just doesn't work for me. Vampires and werewolves are evil, and they're mythological, and I feel like they should stay the way they were intended -- evil! not kissable boyfriends!!!! -- maybe with an extra special twist from an author. That's just my opinion, and I'm definitely not out to offend anyone who disagrees or is writing something paranormal/vampire-werewolf-related!

And now that I'm done writing a novella of a reply, I'm going to step back and let others answer. O_o

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Taryn on Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:47 pm

I have a question! *brushes cobwebs off Write On! account*

So, I've been interning at a lit agency, and I'm struck by how often I read a manuscript I love. I think I've come to the point where I would be able to recognize something I love versus something sell-able/something I can't part with.

Then I think about editors, and the quality of submissions you receive must be even higher than that subbed to an agency. How do you decide what you want to take on? I know you must love/recognize quality in a lot of the things which come across your desk. Does it come down to something that matches your wishlist? Something that's extremely high concept? Something that, you don't know why, but struck a chord in you?

Now for an answer to your question:

What genres are you totally over? I've been over paranormal since before it begun, lol. But I never liked it. And I'm SO NOT OVER DYSTOPIAN.

What stylistic devices do you feel are so overdone they should be abandoned for good? I'd love to see more third person. I'm sick of everyone being unnaturally beautiful. Stephanie Perkins' books have such real characters, and I'd love something like that replicated. Characters needs hobbies outside of friends/family/romance.

Basically, I haven't picked up a paranormal romance in forever, and I rarely grab paranormals. I hate when summaries are all "the mysterious boy" "she finds herself drawn to" etc.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:12 pm

Hi Taryn,

I know just what you mean about how many things you see that you connect with and how hard it can be to winnow that pile down. The truth is that I think I've become much more picky over time. I remember when I first started reading submissions, and I kept stopping myself, thinking what right do I have to judge someone else's work? But I think as you see more and more that suffers from the same problems, as you see what works and what doesn't, as you see projects that you truly do love and the proejcts you thought you loved don't seem nearly as great in retrospect, your ability to choose the few right projects out of vast options becomes easier. I think, too, that you realize that not everything is going to be right for everybody. And even if it's great, if it's not quite for you, that's okay, because it could be exactly right for someone else.

I still do some reading for other editors (although more of my own subs now, which is decidedly exciting!). I think about whether I'm enjoying the storyline. Is it to the taste of the editor I'm reading for? Is the project sellable? How would I pitch it in a sentence? What would I comp this manuscript to? Do we already have something like it? Is it going to get attention in the marketplace? How much revision does this ms need? Increasingly, what can the author contribute to the book's success (facebook, twitter, blog, connections, etc.)

And really, when I'm reading for myself, I also add in do I really want to put in the effort to try to get this book? The reason I ask this one is because getting a book through the acquisitions process is very time consuming, and very hard, and not at all fun. And if I love a book enough that I want to go through all the steps, then it's worthwhile for me pushing for it. But if the thought of P&Ls and acquisiton forms, pitching and meetings turns my stomach, and I can see how after all the time and effort, I'm still going to get a "no," then I sometimes let something wonderful go. Not because I'm lazy. Not because I'm defeatist. But because if I can't generate inhouse enthusiasm for a project, then we'll never be able to generate enthusiasm in the marketplace, and we'll never get the book to sell. And, after all, that's what I'm ultimately in this business to do. Find books and sell them.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Taryn on Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:28 pm

Thanks for that awesome answer!

And another:

When the author gets a multi-book deal, how do you decide what those books will be? (If they're non-series, of course) I've heard it's a bunch of proposals and you choose one to work on, or if they already have manuscripts, you take a look at those. What if you learn the author is ridiculously slow, and the first book was the product of 10 years? What if you want a series, and the author no longer wants to work in that world/with those characters?

Oh, and: Are trilogies ever going to die?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Lnlee on Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:52 pm

Hi, Alison! I just saw your tweet (and yes, I'm already sick of my homework).

Let me answer your questions before I dive into my own.

I think I'm over Paranormal as well. But mostly vampires and other books with the "mysterious new guy/supernatural hottie/guy with a dark secret/etc." I mean, I loved Twilight when it first came out and read the entire series but what I didn't like was the fact that I noticed a sort of trend of books that followed the same basic story-line/concept. I'm also kind of over Dystopian. I'm not sure if this has mostly to do with my city's librarians' tastes or not but it seems like every book I see on the shelves is either Paranormal or Dystopian. Of course, if I run across a total jewel like WITHER or DIVERGENT, I'm totally for it. I guess it just depends on the concept/idea and how interesting it is. I also have to really love the characters.

As for stylistic devices...hm. I'm not sure if this counts but MCs that are the "new-girl" or "outcast" at school is becoming overrated. And the whole "MC-has-low-self-esteem" thing is getting really annoying. I mean, sure that DOES make the MC more relatable, but whenever I run across an MC who worries that she's fat/ugly (while her friends are shockingly pretty/thin) or a freak, I go: "Girl, puh-leez. I have enough self-esteem issues of my own to worry about yours." It's doubly annoying when it takes a hot guy that randomly starts noticing her for her to realize that she's beautiful in her own way or something like that.


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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Lnlee on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:01 pm

My questions: So, I always hear these horror stories about authors receiving their revision notes from editors and wondering if they really do have talent and/or balking at the changes the editors suggested. Just how much of an original manuscript (ie: the one submitted to you by an agent) is changed by the time you're done with it? And, what are the most common mistakes (or just things that make you go "err...") that you see in a manuscript?

Also, what are some of the things that YOU are sick of or are generally over? What are some of the things that are on your wish list?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. I, like everyone else here, REALLY appreciate it.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:36 pm

Okay - let's do this piece by piece:

When the author gets a multi-book deal, how do you decide what those books will be? (If they're non-series, of course) I've heard it's a bunch of proposals and you choose one to work on, or if they already have manuscripts, you take a look at those.

In the event of a multi-book deal that's not a series, you've potentially seen synopses for other book ideas. That's often what gives you the confidence to make a multi-book offer, beyond the fact that you think the author is ridiculously talented and you want to make sure that no one else can ever work with them.

But if that's not the case, you'll see a proposal for the next book, and maybe some sample chapters. Or maybe several proposals. And as an editor you take a look and then talk to the author about what they're envisioning, and any initial concerns you might have.

But what if you hate all of the proposals? Then you have a chat and try to find something else. And if that doesn't work, well, then the nature of the talk changes. But hopefully it doesn't come to that.

What if you learn the author is ridiculously slow, and the first book was the product of 10 years?

We pray it doesn't come to this! No, in reality, you have delivery dates in the contract. You've agreed to these dates based on reasonable expectations long before this elusive book needs to arrive. And if it's not going to happen you have a chat. I think a lot of people forget that there's a personal relationship between author and editor. Editors aren't mean and unreasonable. We want to accomodate author needs when we can, because that will bode well for the finished product.

What if you want a series, and the author no longer wants to work in that world/with those characters?

Then I'm not getting that companion novel I really want. But maybe, if I do other books with the author and we develop a really great working relationship, then someday, down the road, we'll come up with the idea that makes that next book in the series a reality.

Are trilogies ever going to die?

Gosh. I just don't see that happening soon. I think that because of the way the market's been going, authors are increasingly concieving the course of their narratives in multi-book arcs. And as long as that model's profitable as it continues to be (and why not - who wouldn't buy the next book by an author they know with characters they love over someone and something they know little about), I think you're going to see this trend continue. Still, I can't stress enough how important it is that every book in a series be able to stand on it's own. It can make a huge difference for your readership. So, listen to me!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:47 pm

Lnlee wrote:Hi, Alison! I just saw your tweet (and yes, I'm already sick of my homework).

Let me answer your questions before I dive into my own.

I think I'm over Paranormal as well. But mostly vampires and other books with the "mysterious new guy/supernatural hottie/guy with a dark secret/etc." I mean, I loved Twilight when it first came out and read the entire series but what I didn't like was the fact that I noticed a sort of trend of books that followed the same basic story-line/concept. I'm also kind of over Dystopian. I'm not sure if this has mostly to do with my city's librarians' tastes or not but it seems like every book I see on the shelves is either Paranormal or Dystopian. Of course, if I run across a total jewel like WITHER or DIVERGENT, I'm totally for it. I guess it just depends on the concept/idea and how interesting it is. I also have to really love the characters.

As for stylistic devices...hm. I'm not sure if this counts but MCs that are the "new-girl" or "outcast" at school is becoming overrated. And the whole "MC-has-low-self-esteem" thing is getting really annoying. I mean, sure that DOES make the MC more relatable, but whenever I run across an MC who worries that she's fat/ugly (while her friends are shockingly pretty/thin) or a freak, I go: "Girl, puh-leez. I have enough self-esteem issues of my own to worry about yours." It's doubly annoying when it takes a hot guy that randomly starts noticing her for her to realize that she's beautiful in her own way or something like that.

Wow. Well-worded! I basically agree with all of that except the dystopian bit, because I haven't read enough dystopian, and I'd like to read more! (I really liked The Giver... only just read it, and I'm 17. #confessions)

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Lnlee on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:49 pm

Haha, Lizzy. I read The Giver in sixth grade. It was part of our school's curriculum. #randommemories
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:51 pm

I have another question! So I know that it's good to have your novel able to stand alone, whether or not there is potential for/intended/is already sequels or a trilogy or whatever. But I was wondering... if you have a stand alone novel with potential for a trilogy, or potential for a 2nd book, but you don't really *want* to write said 2nd book/trilogy, is that okay? Should that change? Is there a demand for trilogies etc?

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:52 pm

Lnlee wrote:Haha, Lizzy. I read The Giver in sixth grade. It was part of our school's curriculum. #randommemories

Most people did! But for whatever reason it wasn't required of me until 11th grade. *shrug* (Which I just realized was last year, so I was 16. Still a #confession)

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:10 pm

Lnlee wrote:My questions: So, I always hear these horror stories about authors receiving their revision notes from editors and wondering if they really do have talent and/or balking at the changes the editors suggested. Just how much of an original manuscript (ie: the one submitted to you by an agent) is changed by the time you're done with it? And, what are the most common mistakes (or just things that make you go "err...") that you see in a manuscript?

Also, what are some of the things that YOU are sick of or are generally over? What are some of the things that are on your wish list?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. I, like everyone else here, REALLY appreciate it.

Hi Lnlee!

Such great questions. Okay - revision horror! Is it really as bad as the stories say? Well, maybe. But I sincerely hope not. Revisions are really manuscript specific, so what one author experiences is probably going to be dramatically different from what another author experiences. And it may, very well, be book specific, too. The revision letter can be incredibly daunting, may result in panic and self-doubt. After all, someone is pointing out all of these things that need to be fixed in your book. I think the trick is to keep it all in context. Your editor wouldn't have bought your book if they didn't think there was great potential in your manuscript. And they wouldn't take the time and effort to provide such detailed editorial feedback if they didn't think you could do it. In my editorial letters (and this is what I've seen in every other editor's letters I've seen) I point out what's really working as well as what needs work. What I love and what needs a little more attention so I can love it even more. My line-edits are full of "ha's" and "love this's" as much as questions and suggestions. Editorial letters are tough, but your editor is there to help you. My authors can always contact me if they have a question or need to try out a new idea on me. On Kristina McBride's upcoming novel, ONE MOMENT, we worked through a brand new timeline with key events before she dove into her extension revisions. She had an idea for a pivotal scene overnight - we talked it through the next day. An editor is there to help you get your book where it needs to be. So use them.

But what if you don't like what your editor wants you to do? It's your novel. No editor can (or should) force you to make changes that you don't agree with. That doesn't mean you should disregard what your editor is saying. They have a great deal of experience, and probably have a reason for requesting what they've requested. You should hear them out. Maybe in the course of your conversation, you'll come up with a third idea that you both love even more. But, if after that, you still fervently feel that it needs to remain the way you want it, then it should. It's your name on the book.

How much is changed? That depends on the project. I can't really answer that. Sometimes it's entirely transformed. Sometimes it's just polishing. It just depends.

I always find common mistakes hard. So much seems specific to the ms. I think tense and perspective consistency is sometimes tricky. And I tend to be very picky about awkward phrasing. I do a lot of polishing and asking for rephrasing.

Ooh - one big mistake that you need to be really hyper aware of - song lyrics. Save yourself a headache. Just don't use them. Obtaining permissions is such a pain, and it can be incredibly expensive. I tell authors they can use titles (they're not copyrightable), but just avoid lyrics entirely. The same really goes for quoting from other published works. Fair use doesn't apply to a published novel, whatever people tell you. If it's public domain (like Shakespeare) that's a different matter. Go ahead. But it should be your novel, so use sparingly, and be smart.

Also, be wary of slang, celebs, fashion choices, etc. I know it makes your book feel very current now, but it's also a sure way to have your book quickly dated. And, if you can avoid it, try to not use contemporary years like 2011 in your ms. As an editor, I can fix it for when the book will release, but by the time the paperback comes out, the book is already out of date!

What am I tired of? I'm loathe to say I'm tired of anything, because then I see something that I've just dismissed, and I LOVE it. I think I need paranormals and dystopians to be really extraordinary to catch my eye. I've been seeing a lot of superficial writing recently - I'm not very happy with that. Give me meat. Give me depth. I love my lighter reads, but you can have a light read that has truly developed characters and conceits.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:18 pm

I read The Giver in 7th grade. I hated what I had to do with it, but it left an impression. So when I got to read the companion novels, Gathering Blue and Messenger, they really meant a lot more to me.

Which, Maggie, I think connects sort of nicely to your question about the stand-alone that has potential for more. The Giver came out in 1993. We all remember reading it from school. And it felt complete, right? But then Lois Lowry decided to write these other two books later. And they don't exactly continue the story, and yet they do.

And I think that that approach is okay, too. Sometimes, even more interesting. I think stand-alones are great. Not every book needs a sequel. A story can be complete in one book. But if, down the road, you decide that there's more to tell, then there's the possibility of that, too.

And that is part of what makes the literary world so fantastic.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:26 pm

As to when you read a book - you're never too old or too late coming to one! We had a conversation in the office the other day about how everyone reads Lord of the Flies in high school. Often in 11th grade. Well, I didn't! In 11th grade I was doing American literature and my head was in Thoreau and Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I didn't read Lord of the Flies until I was a senior in college, and just decided it was a novel that I needed to read. I didn't read it for a class. I read it for myself. And man did I love it.

But, if we're talking truth, if I had to read it for school, I probably would have liked it a lot less. Because school tends to do that to great books. Until you get to college. And then it can make you fall in love with a text. Or not. That's just the dorky English major in me, huh?

Have there been any required reading books for school that you've fallen in love with? Would love to hear which. Tell me what year you read the book for class, too. I'm interested to hear when different schools assign what.


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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Lnlee on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:48 pm

Oh, wow, thank you so much for the really detailed response. You went above and beyond my expectations. I'll be sure to check out ONE MOMENT. I couldn't find it on Goodreads yet (since it's scheduled for June 2012 release and all) but I found Kristina's other novel (THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES). I'll read that one in the meantime. Smile

Oh and to answer your new question:

I actually read the required reading before they're assigned (ie: we're supposed to be reading LORD OF THE FLIES this year--senior year--I think, but I read that as a sophomore) before school gets a chance to pound out the literary love inside of me. One drawback of this is that it's hard for me to keep straight which year corresponds to which book, but I'll do my best. ^_^

1.)LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel; 9th grade. Loved it but I know some people absolutely hated it.

2.) THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (11th grade; that's when our curriculum did American lit, as well.) I LOVED IT. I actually read this in oh gosh...ninth grade?...and read THIS SIDE OF PARADISE in tenth grade before rereading THE GREAT GATSBY with the class in 11th. I just love Fitzgerald. If I could go back in time and marry him, I would. (After straightening out his alcoholic tendencies, of course.)

3.) THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O'Brien (also 11th grade). I loved this book because it took a subject I normally wouldn't want to read about (the Vietnam War) and made if fascinating/interesting for me to read by giving it a unique twist (by going in depth about how he uses writing to cope with his experiences from war and everything.)

4.) Everything by Shakespeare ("A Midsummer Night's Dream" in 7th, "Taming of the Shrew" in 8th, "The Tempest" in 10th, "Othello" (12th--I think. I read it earlier, though.) I just can't get enough of that ole bard.

5.)THE POISONWOOD BIBLE (it was summer reading for 12th grade.) I loved it b/c it was like a classic epic that read like YA.

I also loved books that other English classes read but mine didn't because AP doesn't assign YA novels...like SPEAK (11th grade) and THIRTEEN REASONS WHY (12th grade).

Oh, and I'm a dorky English major, too! High-five! I'm in the process of filling out college apps now, actually.


Last edited by Lnlee on Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:48 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Lnlee on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:57 pm

One book that I'm not entirely loving though is CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (12th). That man overwrites some things so much that I want to upload the novel onto google docs and critique it like I do with my critique partners' manuscripts. If I was his editor, I'd tell him to cut out several chapters of repeated angst AND THEN resend it to me.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Renée on Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:01 am

I can't think of any questions, but I do have answers! Razz Really though, I love reading these threads, even if I can never remember what I was going to ask. Great questions Taryn, Maggie, and Lyla!

Like some of the others, I've been over Paranormal and am tiring of Dystopian(Unless it's like Divergent or Wither.I love you). I didn't read a whole lot of them to begin with, especially paranormal--not a huge fan of romance as the plot--but, I don't know, I guess it got old fast. High school as a setting just doesn't do it for me, unless it's really different from everything else--not the "New Girl meets Hot Guy," or "New Hot Guy meets Plain Jane." And I'd be happy if I never saw a teenage boy/girl fall in love with a vampire/werewolf ever again. Wink

Stylistically, first person present tense is starting to wear on me. I mean, if it's awesome, then I don't care, but I've read novels where the story would've been better off in past or third person past.

As for assigned books, I loved Richard III & Hedda Gabler, which I read for college freshman and sophomore courses respectively. In 7th and 8th grade we read Hamlet, which I enjoyed even though it was twice in a row. 6th grade was Midsummer Night's Dream, and 9th was Romeo & Juliet. Shakespeare's awesome, needless to say. And...I've never read The Giver. #confessions Shocked It's been on my list of books, I've just never gotten around to it. (But I know I read Gathering Blue, even if I don't remember it very well. Does that redeem me? Razz)
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:01 am

Editor Alison wrote:I read The Giver in 7th grade. I hated what I had to do with it, but it left an impression. So when I got to read the companion novels, Gathering Blue and Messenger, they really meant a lot more to me.

Which, Maggie, I think connects sort of nicely to your question about the stand-alone that has potential for more. The Giver came out in 1993. We all remember reading it from school. And it felt complete, right? But then Lois Lowry decided to write these other two books later. And they don't exactly continue the story, and yet they do.

And I think that that approach is okay, too. Sometimes, even more interesting. I think stand-alones are great. Not every book needs a sequel. A story can be complete in one book. But if, down the road, you decide that there's more to tell, then there's the possibility of that, too.

And that is part of what makes the literary world so fantastic.

Yeah, that makes total sense. I've yet to read Messenger or Gathering Blue, but they're both on my list!

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:03 am

I have not read Lord of the Flies yet. It isn't going to be required of me, but I know that's one of those books I'll read eventually down the line.

@Renee Yes! I'm kinda getting over the first person present, too. The first book I actually read with it (done well) was Hunger Games. And since then more and more books I pick up are written like that. Which is fine! I like it, provided it's done well. But I like third person best in the end, too, or first person past if it's done well. Smile

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #7 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:32 am

It's probably only fair that I offer up my assigned reading in HS, too, right? I'm getting old (I'll be 26 at the end of the month!), so forgive me when I can't remember everything, but I'll do my very best for you guys:

9th Grade:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Tom Sawyer
Great Expectations
Romeo and Juliet
Wuthering Heights
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The Odyseey (Thank you for reminding me Taryn).

10th Grade:
A Tale of Two Cities
Fahrenheit 451
The Grapes of Wrath (thus began my love of Steinbeck)
A Seperate Peace
Julius Caeser
(There had to have been so many more. I, for the life of me, simply cannot remember!)


11th Grade:
The Scarlet Letter
The Great Gatsby (which I had read the summer before 9th grade, but rereading it changed the
entire way I saw the novel)
Cold Montain (I think we got to pick a Civil War-ish book. I chose this one. Did not love it.)
(Again, there must have been many, many more. This was the year of American literature and the AP Language exam, so early American texts from the textbook composed so much of the syllabus. Still, I must be missing so many.)


12th Grade:
War and Peace (This was the teacher's calling card book. We read it over the summer and spent a quarter of the year on it. But it transformed the way I write and think about literature.)
Madame Bovary
Hedda Gabler (I still remember the quotes I used that made their way into my AP essay)
Mrs. Warren's Profession
King Lear
The Playboy of the Western World
A Doll's House
(Again, here there were more. I just am old.)

Then there were all of the books I was reading for myself in this interlude, too. But, to be perfectly honest, I remember not being the biggest reader in high school. I mean, I read, but I didn't read YA. (The horror!) YA just hadn't become the presence it is today. And I had so much homework (much like many of you, probably) that finding time to read for myself was hard.

I remember going through a very long period of reading my father's old college books. I'd go ask him what I should read next, and he'd recommend something and then I'd settle in to his notations in the margins. And some of those books really had an impact on me and other I simply wasn't quite ready for, and if you asked me what they were about today, I wouldn't be able to tell you.

That's my two cents. Now, back to your brilliant questions!


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