Kafez

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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Tips from David Davidar of Penguin Books Canada, for the aspiring author

Singapore Writers' Festival - Symposium
Essential tips from David Davidar, for the aspiring author, given at the symposium.
David Davidar is President & Publisher of Penguin Books Canada. He is also the bestselling author of the sweeping narrative The House of Blue Mangoes and his newest novel, The Solitude of Emperors, published last September is already threading along the first book's trail.
Penguin Canada does not read unsolicited manuscripts except those referred to by a literary agent. Yet, they are always looking for fresh voices and they believe that the literary agent is a good judge of this.
  • Always remember that the dos' and don'ts of other writers may not appear vital to you at all. An individual's writing journey may be totally different.
  • There are no short-cuts to writing a work of good fiction, no easy way out.
  • Many first-time writers tend to make the common mistake of trying to second-guess the market. Writers sometimes deliberately imitate the plot of the current Man Booker Prize win.
  • Write for yourself and stay in solitude while doing this, if you have to.
  • There is an old saying that everyone has a book in them, says Davidar. But he adds that if your structure is poor, the book goes nowhere. Any aspiring author of fiction should read the great novels. Study comprehensively with an eagle-eye, the various forms and structures of these books.
  • Doubts will definitely come upon the writer during the process of writing, re-writing and editing a story. Would anyone at all be interested in what you have to say, for instance? Just know that there will be good and bad days. Preservere.
  • Nothing works on a first attempt. Keep writing and strive to find your voice.
  • Commit enough preparation for your manuscript beforehand because if it's a rushed job and far from ready, the feedback is definitely going to be bad.
  • Revision is essential. While the world is looking for new stories, as a writer it helps to be practical and strategic at the same time.
  • Davidar's view of the internet, is that showing off mansucripts online can prove a problem. Who is going to read an unknown, even if you have paid for your story to be shown online together with a host of other unknown writers? The chances of being read are poor.
  • Many e-books are amateur, observes Davidar. Editors are essential to act as a filter.
  • Finding a literary agent and publisher is tough work, he adds. But if you have talent and commitment, you will make it.
  • Most first works are autobiographical but unless you've had interesting and harrowing experiences, our real lives are not as valid for novel-writing as we like to think. So only take it so far. Fictionalise a lot.
  • If you're writing a novel, remember that it's not a journal. It's about fiction, structure and plot.
  • Seek an audience in your head. You can do this if you know the kind of book you want to write.
  • Find a tiny circle of people who are brutally honest with your stories. Find a referee as you progress with your work to read and comment, when you feel there is a need to. But stick to a small number.

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