you ever wondered why
editors, agents, and publishers say no to your manuscript?
Well, if you’ve never judged a
writing contest before, I suggest you do so. This will give you vast
insight as to how they arrive at their decisions.
Over the past eight years, I’ve
heard other writers voice their opinions as to how some of the novels
these days shouldn’t be published. Since I’d read some of the same
books they were referring to, I sort of agreed, until I judged a few
In the beginning, I eagerly
pored over each submission. As I read on, though, my eagerness advanced
to frustration. Oh no, not another one.
Don’t get me wrong. The authors’
manuscripts weren’t poorly written, but after seeing the same storyline
over and over and over again, I became bored.
In fact, the way I just wrote
“over and over and over again” is enough to bore anyone, isn’t it?
Then I came across a different
batch of submissions. Some of them looked like they’d been through a
hedge trimmer. The periods, commas, and quotation marks had been
whacked plumb off the sentences. The words sat huddled together, with
no paragraph breaks, looking as though they’d tried to escape the
I arrived at the point where I
just wanted a good story, something well written with a unique slant
and a fresh voice.
Does any of this sound familiar
If it does, don’t feel alone.
Many writers have done this. I know I certainly have.
Because I have no shame, I’m
going to show you a small portion of my first fiction submission.
Although I’d written nonfiction articles before, even published a few,
I’d never penned a novel, let alone a synopsis.
Here’s the first line of the
prologue (which I later discovered wasn’t a prologue at all). I altered
the characters’ names, but everything else is in its original format.
A young woman from a
Christian family fights to keep her faith and virginity.
Uh, reads like a wannabe
one-sentence summary to me.
Lulu Lowenbrau is a
teenager who has been dating Joey Javanese for over nine months. Every
time they kiss their sexual desires peak.
I think this is perfect for
the CBA, don’t you? Not only that, how often have you seen teenagers
kiss their sexual desires peak? Does such a thing even exist?
I don’t think so.
Now for the conflict, (drumroll,
Tensions mount. They
tease Lulu ruthlessly at their weekly card games.
Wow, I’m on the edge of my seat.
Does it make you want to read more?
The next two:
Lulu’s friends are
three young women who do not profess themselves to be Christians and
are sexually active. They believe in God, but find religion too
difficult to walk in.
I can’t even comment on this
Last, and because I can’t take
much more, here is the final line:
Lulu’s choices bring
her before crossroads of ridicule, heartache, and frustration.
Why do I suddenly feel naked?
At least you probably feel
better now, don’t you?
We all have to study to master
this craft, to show ourselves approved. If we do, and apply the proper
techniques, an editor, agent, or publisher might take notice.