I was reading a description on an agent’s website the other day on what they were looking for in a submittal. They mentioned epic novels and something about large scale ideas – I’m paraphrasing obviously. I understood that they meant “The Next Big Thing,” but I was a little foggy on the specifics of that.
Lord of the Rings is an incredible story with a complete and utterly fantastic other world, strange and amazing creatures and a solid Good vs. seriously Evil storyline. Then there are all the incredible subplots. It has translated into several amazing and hugely profitable movies. Got it. That would be epic and large scale and it certainly was “The Next Big Thing” each and every time one of the films came out.
Twilight is a young adult paranormal romance about a high school girl, vampires and werewolves. It is set in Washington and takes place right now. Nothing epic there. Nothing to say it would be “The Next Big Thing” and become worldwide phenomena.
I’ve been pondering the agent’s description ever since I read it. I’m not great at pondering. I start on one track, end up on another and then my head hurts. I’ve gone around and around in circles about this one. And I’ve settled on the simple and basic premise that we’ve all heard over and over and over again.
As authors, we simply need to write the best story we can.
The one thing that every best-seller has in common is a good story that caught the reader’s attention and drew them in.
It’s impossible to predict what will become “The Next Big Thing.” It seems to be a combination of luck and good storytelling. And a sort of stubborn belief on the part of the author. Kathryn Stockett of “The Help” received 60 rejections before she found an agent. A story about African-American maids and a white woman who wanted to write a book about them? I wouldn’t classify that as epic or necessarily a grandiose story plot. But Ms. Stockett certainly had the determination and the courage to continue going after what she wanted. And what a nice payoff.
So, I’ve been thinking about that agent’s website. It would be nice to be “The Next Big Thing,” wouldn’t it? To see all of our hard work and devotion make it to the big screen. To actually get paid for what we love to do. That would be great.
But who really knows what it will be?
When I read this agency’s preferences for submittals I was both intimidated as well as struck by the slight snootiness of it. But at the same time there is a sort of positiveness to it that I enjoyed. There is always a “Next Big Thing” just around the corner.
I’ve sort of adopted that idea, that positive attitude, into my own plan for writing. The Next Big Things for me are: 1. Reworking my outline for my current WIP and 2. Finding an agent for the book I’ve finished. I have no idea how long it will take me. I’m hoping to have the outline done this week. The agent . . . well, she might be just around that corner.
What are your Next Big Things?