Just another manic Monday, and here I am juggling writing, proposals, real life, bills, doctors, family etc. So as usual my head is all over the place. But what I wanted to talk about was fishing (in our case for readers) and how to make your trailed lure look more attractive than the rest. It's useful for picking up girls (or males or probably furry green aliens if your tastes run that way)too.
You see it's all about attractors... and super-attractors. We've talked about fitting your writing into the 'attractor' mould often enough here. Vegetarian fish don't bite often on bits of steak - anymore than vegetarian editors from New York are likely to bite on the "Texas Ranch-style Barbeque book" or something that stinks of unappetising - like bad grammar or spelling, or yet another prologue or murdered village with one survivor. But, very much like fishing, you are tossing your attractive (right kind of) lure into a varied environment swimming with the rare editor-fish of different diets and tastes and then... hoping they take YOUR lure, not Ed's or Mary's or Joe's or Frankie's or any one of the 10% of well presented, reasonably attractive lures/books on offer (the other 90% suck and would never be touched anyway. You don't belong among 'em or you wouldn't be reading this).
Now, this is a problem well-known and researched among the angling fraternity, who have a lot more money collectively than wannabe writers. Ergo, they had some very good biologists trying to work out just how to make your lure stand out... and the answer is actually a very simple one. It's a lure that looks and behaves just like all the natural prey items... ONLY JUST A _LITTLE_ MORESO. There are features of the prey items which fish fixate on (editors of course never do this. Perish the thought. Neither do potential partners in a singles bar) and they'll bite even if the rest of the package is unattractive. So for instance, if the fish is eating mayflies, and picking them out by the 3 little wiggly bits on tail... 1)if you don't have 3 wiggly bits on the tail of your fly you can go home, 2) those little wiggly bits need to be just a little larger than they are in life - believably so - say 10% up - to get the fish to choose your fake mayfly and not ther 5000 real ones on offer. Too big and they won't be believed, and too like the rest and you're back to pure chance. Now, without going into the wiggly bits in the singles bar (I leave this to Kate's mind, mine might explode) when you think about it (not the wiggly bits!) that's what we have to do. And while there are editors that fixate on prose, or setting or description, or even plot... it's usually character that catches their interest. Which is why the character need to be well... real, but endowed with that extra 10% and... to throw a sabertooth among the ground-quail, these often are actually stereotypes in the plane of expectations... with extra in that dimension and often quite a lot that the poor editor didn't see coming along because he/she fixated on the super-attractor - this makes the book interesting and different AND gets the reader. From Miles to Honor - to give examples.
So: how do you 'build' a super-attractor? Give them features that readers feel at ease with, can identify with... and bit more? Dumpster diving furniture restorers for example.
Or am I missing this entirely?
What do you think?