Working Towards the Aha! Moment

It’s always a treat when Poets & Writers Magazine arrives in my mailbox. The July/August issue is full of yummy stuff… including an inside look at life inside Folio Literary Agency (where my friend, Jeff Kleinman, is an agent) and some great new fiction. But the piece that caught my attention in this issue is Michael Bourne’s short article, “The Aha! Moment.” Bourne interviewed literary agent Ellen Levine, the executive vice president of Trident Media Group, about her response to Ayana Mathis’s first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (coming in January 2013).

 Levine fell in love with Mathis’s work on the first page. But six pages in she gives us a sentence-by-sentence analysis of 7 strong points she discovered in just one scene: Mathis’s command of the scene, the psychological tension, the desperation of the protagonist, vivid prose, strong characters and narrative power.


There’s a whole writing lesson in these two pages. As I continue the hard work of revising my novel, this article helps me see the importance of putting in the hours in order to hopefully create an “Aha! Moment” for a literary agent when I begin queries.

 It’s a slow process and I’m not a patient person. But I’m learning.

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