Author Topic: I have to share  (Read 5834 times)

Offline 12yearovernitesuccess

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I have to share
« on: April 14, 2009, 08:51:08 PM »
So I got rejected by one of the agents who requested a full.  She said in her email that I write very well so she was sorry to have to pass on my novel.  She also said that by my killing my main character off, she felt cheated and though the story doesn't have to have a happy ending, it didn't work for her.

I replied to her email thanking her and asking what about the way I killed him off didn't work for her b/c one of my friends said he was surprised that I did that.  I was wondering if maybe there was something in how that part is written that I might need to address.

And here's her reply:

"Hi Susan--
I didn't read the entire ms.  I read some of the ms., then read the synopsis before continuing with the ms. pages.  When I realized the direction you were taking the book, I knew it wasn't something I could sell.  By killing off (xxx) in a freak car accident, you negate the entire book."

So...

I get an agent not wanting to rep a book where the main character dies.  What I don't get is the rejection telling me she felt cheated only to find out she didn't read the whole thing. 

Sigh.

Susan


Offline Sandy_Williams

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2009, 08:57:02 PM »
Maybe she's an agent who prefers happily ever afters?
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Offline 12yearovernitesuccess

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2009, 09:19:34 PM »
She may well be and I'm fine with that.  I think I was more disappointed by the fact that I was hoping for some constructive criticism and got the response I did.  It's hard to take a critique that includes the words, "I didn't read the entire ms..." as constructive.

Offline pierce67

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2009, 05:34:00 AM »
That does stink but she told you the book was good. I know you feel cheated because she didn't read the entire ms. I would too! But there is an agent who will be fine with your ending so someone will take your book.  Keep at it!!

Offline newday11

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2009, 07:16:45 AM »
 :rant: Like '67 said, I would be upset if she didn't read it all, but I was struck with at least she showed some interest. newday11
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Offline AshK

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2009, 08:22:55 AM »
My sister always reads the last chapter of a book first. She wants to see the wrap-up and know which characters were left standing so that she won't get emotionally invested in someone who is going to end up frecked at the end.

Maybe the agent is of the same ilk or expects the potential audience to be that way.

(Not me. I love a good death. It's a metaphorical thing.  >:D )
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Offline bodwen

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2009, 11:08:34 AM »

Now I'm intrigued.  I want to read the synopsis.

On the show "Lost", the POV character was supposed to die in the first episode.  The writers thought it would be cool to establish him as the leader of the survivors, only to show that fortune is fickle and anyone can die at any time. 

When ABC saw it they made them change it.  The execs decided if they built up a main character and then killed him at the end, the viewers would not feel compelled to tune in for the next episode.  (I disagree, but that's just me.)  So they subsituted another character into the death scene.

It must have been a nice surprise for the actor.  He's hired for one episode, and ends up becoming the lead of the series.

Offline ElanaJ

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2009, 02:00:59 PM »
Yeah, I understand your feelings of being cheated. When we send out fulls, the expectation is that the entire thing will be read. That is not always the case, obviously. Hang in there.  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
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Offline ChristineF

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2009, 03:01:07 PM »
I so get your frustration...but hang in there.  You had a full read (at least partially read)... and that is a great first step...!!!  GOOD LUCK! ;D :yes: 

Offline 12yearovernitesuccess

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2009, 06:13:34 PM »
Thanks for the kind words all of you.  I think what struck me was her initial response with the statement that she thought the ending cheated the reader followed by her admission that she hadn't read the entire manuscript and the statement that the main character's death negated the entire book.  If she had read the entire book and still felt cheated, then I'd take that idea and explore it. Or, if she'd read it all and still thought his death negated the book, then I would have respected her opinion. 

I understand her saying, "I read the synopsis, saw where it was going and don't think I can sell this."  She likely knows the market and that may be the most valid statement of all.  I would have been thrilled to know that...if I could have taken the sum total of her response as an informed critique.  Now I'm left to wonder.

Offline paulwest

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2009, 06:18:04 PM »
She may well be and I'm fine with that.  I think I was more disappointed by the fact that I was hoping for some constructive criticism and got the response I did.  It's hard to take a critique that includes the words, "I didn't read the entire ms..." as constructive.
Okay, here's a bit of a different take. I really think she did give you constructive criticism, you're just not listening. Killing off your MC in an auto accident is a cop out, IMO. If he/she were to die as a result of some plot issue, it could make sense. But to kill him/her off for no more reason than an accident doesn't work for me either. Dean Koontz, in his book "How to Write Bestselling Fiction," suggested killing off the protagonist is usually a bad idea, but it can work if it comes as a logical outcome of the plot and serves as a catharsis to the reader.

I'd suggest revising. If your character has to die, okay, but have it be because of some plot issue.
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Offline bodwen

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2009, 07:01:30 PM »
I'd agree with you Paul, except that the agent never read the manuscript.  She rejected it on the basis of "There's no way this could ever work."  I agree that's a little unfair.

One of my favorite novels basically ends with "Ok, you got me!  I was completely BS'ing you for the first 400 pages of the novel.  Here is what really happened (in two pages or less)..."   

If I got the cliffnotes version giving a barebone summary of the plot, I'd be shaking my head saying "how cheap and stupid."   But when you read it from begining to end and learn of the character's background, family, religion, philosophy, etc... it works.  So well in fact the ending was just mindblowing!  And I'm not the only person who thought so.  It was a first novel and a monster best seller. 

(I won't spoil it by revealing the title, but it doesn't begin with an "A")

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2009, 08:47:46 PM »
It's an odd coincidence to come upon this posting today. For some reason, I was remembering SuAnne Big Crow today. She was a Lakota teen from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, who was killed in an auto accident at the age of seventeen. She was an excellent basketball player. The Soviet Union awarded her an medal for her excellence in athletics.

Before I say more about her, I'm wondering if anything about the sudden death of your main character results in any understanding on the significance of that character's life.

SuAnn Big Crow did something absolutely stunning on the basketball court one day before the game even got started. Her Reservation team was to play a non-Reservation, South Dakota high school. When her team came out, the other SD team tried to make jerks out of her team by mimicking "Indian things," like whooping while slapping their hands over their mouths repeatedly. Instead of shrinking in embarassment, SuAnn spread out her athletic jacket and did a Lakota dance right there in the middle of the floor, bringing the jeering crowd to a place of silence, respect, and awe.

She had great dreams of a teen center on the Reservation, a place to go without drugs or alcohol. She had a good chance of making the Olympics. Though her own life was cut short by a "senseless freak accident," much that is meaningful has come of her life. I am not a believer in "everything happens for a reason," so I'm not suggesting that sort of thing.

I think that agent who rejected your work on the basis she noted has a limited imagination if she thinks death by a sudden accident automatically negates what the novel had originally set out to do. That would be the case only if the author had not thought the book through, got tangled in the plot, and then conveniently killed the main character off to end the book somehow, any which way, just to get it done. You don't sound like a writer who did that. When that agent says she would not be able to sell you book, I'm sure she is telling the truth. But that probably has to do more with her prejudice against accidental deaths in a novel and her limited imagination, than the quality of your book. She didn't even give it a fair chance.

If you have any interest in what became of SuAnn Big Crow's dreams, the example she set by her life, and her hopes for her beloved Pine Ridge community and for teens well outside of it, here is a link:

http://suannebigcrow.org/1spiritofsu.html

I'm not suggesting you write a story something like hers, but just pointing out by way of example that nothing of what her life started out to be was "negated" just because of that accident.

Offline violet

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2009, 10:10:09 PM »
Good timing-

I posted my rejection (maybe in the wrong spot...?)

Trying to decipher my agent's rejection letter has been driving me crazy all day...and it sounds like you're doing the same. I think it sucks that she said she read it, only to find out she didn't. But what can you do? She probably did skip through, saw your mc was killed and she bailed. My hunch is, many agents "skip" around and if they like what they see, they read start to finish.

Alas, my friend, take the positive...your full was requested...and that's a WIN.  :up:

Offline 12yearovernitesuccess

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Re: I have to share
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2009, 11:04:35 PM »
I think I *will* revise my synopsis. 

The thing about the main character's death, if you read the entire book, is it's all too possible that he committed suicide because after all his sacrifice, loyalty, hard work and the family crap he endured, he's left with nothing.  He has nowhere to go, at least within the context of the world he's always known and imagined.  So the "freak car accident"  is actually a one car accident and we all know many of those are undeclared suicides.

I think somewhere in the world of literary terms there's a word called tragedy.  I'm going to look it up to make sure it means what I think it means.  I don't want to put it in if it'll kill my chances of selling even further.