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Queries and Agents => Literary Agents => Topic started by: writestuff56 on March 16, 2011, 02:49:42 PM

Title: conflicting responses
Post by: writestuff56 on March 16, 2011, 02:49:42 PM
What do you do when you receive conflicting advice?

1 agent said they liked my characters, didn't connect to the overall writing
1 agent said they liked my writing style--flowed well, easy to read--but didn't connect to the characters

I guess the good news is that neither categories seem to be totally off track...just gotta find the right agent who feels a connection to both.

I'm still waiting on another agent to get back to me on the partial they requested.

Any advice, feedback, past experience with getting conflicting advice??? Thanks guys! Love reading all the topics on this site and seeing how encouraging everyone is to one another.
Title: Re: conflicting responses
Post by: LisaAnn on March 16, 2011, 03:54:42 PM
I think you are definitely on the right track, writestuff56.  Agents are so subjective that sometimes it's hard to know how to handle conflicting feedback; the important thing is finding the happy medium where YOU feel confident about your work.

As far as the feedback you received, how much of it hit home for you?  How much of it was completely out of left field, and how much of it kinda struck a chord somewhere in your subconscious?  As our own worst enemies, I think we often know our stories' weaknesses better than anyone else, even if we don't know them consciously.  Whenever I receive constructive feedback, it usually leads to something like, "Oh my gosh, you're SO right.  He DOES kinda act like a puppet at the end of Act Three...  I think I realized that; I just got so excited about the climax that I forgot to flesh him out..."  And so on.

If any of your agents' comments hit home like that, I would definitely consider tweaking your work.  But if you were completely blown away by something, I would take their comments with a grain of salt.  Play with some ideas in your head, ask your test audience (friends, writing partners, etc.), and make sure you ultimately rely on YOUR judgment more than anyone else's.  Make some concessions here and there, but remember, it's YOUR story.  And take your own advice and spend your time finding the right agent who feels a connection to both your characters and your writing style.  Good luck!  ;D
Title: Re: conflicting responses
Post by: Sandbox on March 16, 2011, 05:54:54 PM
Hi LisaAnn,

I think, actually, this is a good thing because they aren't saying the same thing. But it is way too early to tell--but great that you are getting requests. Just sit tight and see what others have to say--and good luck!

Title: Re: conflicting responses
Post by: Jim W on March 17, 2011, 01:58:48 PM
I agree strongly with Lisa Ann, but would like to expand on it a bit.

Sometimes it helps to go over comments with someone who has read your work (I use a trusted beta reader).  Show them the feedback.  If something in the feedback resonates with your beta reader, and it feels right to you, then make the changes.  If you think they're off in left field, and your beta reader thinks they're mad, then the agent isn't the right one for the project and you should move on.  Remember that the agent often rejects off of the first few pages (even on requests).  I know this because not only have I heard agents and editors say it, but I've gotten specific reasons for rejections (once it was tense shifts) that occurred only in the very beginning of a requested partial, in an extremely small number that was a cinch to fix (three in the first ten pages, just four in the rest of the manuscript.)  But it was cited as the the main reason they passed.  This demonstrates an awful truth:  Many agents and editors look for a reason to reject you as a way to weed through their slush piles.  I've gone through the same problem you've described.  Agent A loved the writing but didn't like the concept.  Agent B loved the concept but didn't like the writing.  Which was right?  Both.  Can I fix it?  There's no point, especially since someone else might love the writing and the concept.

So conflicting feedback happens a lot.  "Not connecting with a character" means just what it says.  They didn't connect with the character.  Characters are like people.  Lots of people like Rush Limbaugh.  Lots of people don't.  You can't please everyone all of the time.  If you try to drive down the middle and appeal to everyone, you end up with such a weak character that no one will like him or her. 

I must also caution you not to read too much into this.  "Not connecting with a character" is pretty common "bounce" language.  Sometimes "not connecting with a character" is part of the standard rejection letter used by agents.

So don't sweat it too much, okay?  Sandbox is right on the money.  If you're getting conflicting feedback, it means that the issue probably isn't one at all, and is a matter of personal taste.
Title: Re: conflicting responses
Post by: writestuff56 on March 18, 2011, 02:00:09 PM
Very good comments from all of you. THANKS!!!

I was encouraged by the advice about considering all the comments, yet ultimately sticking to what I think is best--knowing my full story and everything. (I did, in fact, have someone who I trust with my work read the comments. She suggested I stick with what I've got now.)

So....considering her advice, as well as thinking about it a lot, reading over the part of the MS I sent and hearing from all of you, I think I'm going to sit tight a bit. The conflicting feedback they gave me wasn't all that complex and since each agent liked the opposite things, that means that both categories are at least striking a positive chord.... just not hitting a home run yet. Hopefully I'll find an agent who likes BOTH.

Any other comments are welcome!