image via pippahunnechurch.com
I wrote my writing pal, Lyn, the other day. "Damn," I confessed, "I sure am hardheaded!"
I'd been going over a manuscript that an agent had recently seen the first thirty pages of, a manuscript segment he'd not been particularly impressed with. His problem was too much backstory in the first pages. I had very compelling reasons for doing that, and I couldn't get him to understand that, mainly because he'd not seen more of the story. Had he seen more, he'd have seen what I saw early this week as I began to tweak. The bckground material, the info dump it's called, at the beginning, was repeated later, but not in as much detail.
However, I discovered, if I simply lopped off the part this guy didn't care for, the story worked fine, with only a few very minor adjustments. Had we both seen that, we'd have had a meeting of the minds.
This is the stage, dear writers, that you face after all those years of workshopping, of sumbittal rejections, of minor successes. These agent types see things through very different eyes, even differently from writing instructors and workshoppers. And such critiques are a problem for the agents, too; they can't ask for full manuscripts from every query that shows promise. They have to see a little bit and then intuit from there.
Novels are too complex to do justice to in a query letter, which is why they're so hard to write, which is why even a 30-page segment can mislead the agent, his or her comments then misleading the writer.
It's a difficult bridge to cross on the way to publishing, and I don't know the asnwer. Pal Lyn has an agent, and her agent's solution is to call her prospective clients, talk about the manuscript, then turn the whole thing over to a reader, who then wreaks constructive havoc on the manuscript. But the struggling or overtaxed agents can't seem to manage this, either in time or staff resources.
So with finger on the DELETE key, I, Sir Humble Pie, go back to work.
Causes Bob Mustin Supports
Native American culture. Education. Creative writing.