Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Making Use Of Agent Feedback

There's something there, the literary agent wrote in the rejection letter. Here's some suggestions. Feel free to resubmit if you agree and re-work the manuscript.

When a literary agent takes the time to get somewhat specific, I'd be a fool not to follow her advice. The problem I've run into is that I can't quite figure out how to get where I need to go with the novel.

Easy enough to insert a scene or two and make the main character more appealing to the reader. I've begun to rough out a couple of paragraphs that I can insert into the opening chapter and solve that little problem.

The real difficulty lies within the sub-plots that I thought were driving the narrative along to its conclusion. The agent read the manuscript and felt that the sub-plots were unconnected incidents which need to be linked together.

Those things that the main character encounters, the forces that help her grow during the course of the story, were done with showing and not telling. Or so I hoped. My problem could be that my showing is too subtle. Action A leading to Action B might not be seen to lead to Action C.

Weaving the many strands together may require more telling. Maybe. Or my showing needs work in some direction that I still can't determine.

On top of all that confusion is the nasty little voice in my head that's telling me this is my one and only chance to land a literary agent and get something published. Do this right, read her mind as to what she's looking for, and it's an offer of representation. Get it wrong, and it's a rejection.

I have a feeling that the best way to sort through the whole thing is to print out the manuscript and spread it out on the desk, to lay out the chapters and go through them one by one. That way, I can make notes about the plot lines and see where reminders are placed, to refresh the reader's memory about an incident in an early chapter that is important in the last third of the novel.

The manuscript is short enough that there's room to play with, and I can add. The question is, what exactly should I add, and could there be other things to remove?

I'm off to buy a ream of paper.


Aeneas said...

Well... it's been a while since I've been at your site (life, you know...) and I find good--actually, great--news. Yes, you are right. When an agent takes time to make such specific suggestions, it shows that she liked it, it 'grabbed' her enough for her to read it and make suggestions.

Don't let that little voice get to you. On the other hand, it might be the voice you need to get your adrenaline going to think beyond your concept of your novel. How you 'see' it and how a reader 'sees' it.

Your on your way. :)

BTW, (and this is not crass advertisement) go to Take a peek.

Aeneas said...

Ooooh, I just saw your book on Amazon, The Leaven of the Pharisees. I didn't notice it before in your blog. (That is you, right?)

Anyway, I just purchased the book. I read it before when you had excerpts, but now I want to read 'on paper'. Awesome!!!

O hAnnrachainn said...

Actually, it's my cousin's literary ramblings that I'm plugging. We're thinking of starting up our own publishing firm to put out our works, but I'm going to try the small presses with my manuscript before I commit to her scheme.

I'm off to your website to see what you've been up to all these months.

Aeneas said...

I'm meandering my way back to the blogs (it's a once a month endeavor) Thank you for 'driving by' my website. A bit of a useless entreprise unless you're famous; but at least that great movie director who can't put my book down would be able to find me in cyberspace and be completely enthralled by my genius.

Ah, it's your cousin's book! I did wonder, since you seem hell-bent on getting published 'the real' way and I was surprised. Anyway... I got the book and it's in line to be read.

O hAnnrachainn said...

Hope you enjoy it and she's thrilled that someone bought it without being asked (the badgering of friends marketing system).

I don't know how to get found in cyberspace because it's so crowded out here.

Although if you would get involved in a police chase along some major L.A. freeway and tossed copies of your books out the window, maybe you'd stand out?

Aeneas said...

Ah... the torture your friends marketing ploy. I know that well. But, see, your blog is an effective marketing tool--one purchase. :)

I promise a review on

(Goes off to find more people to torture. In the words of Monty Python, one never expects the Inquisition.)

Aeneas said...

...and then there is the LA fwy car chase ploy with the tossing of the books out the window.

I do like that. Yes, very much so. Thank you for the idea. We'll share profits.

Aside from that, with all this experience you have with agents and all that, and with your wicked sense of humor, you should write a novel about a writer who after going through all the rejections and Kafkaesque travails, ending up like a squashed bug (another Kafka thing), ends up insane and goes on a rampage of revenge and retribution. And so that it sells, add: "that leads to profound transformation and redemption." Mwahahahahahahahaha