Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Disappointing Submission by Terry Burns

I liked the premise. And while the most common problem with submissions is for them to open to slow an not pull the reader in, the first chapter in this one really appealed to me. I forged ahead.

Then we began to introduce new characters in every chapter and I was soon having trouble keeping them straight. I wasn't learning enough about any of them to identify with them and get invested in them. I couldn't tell who the central character was supposed to be or have an idea where the story was going. I had to give up on it.

I get it. The author knows where the story is going and wants to get on with it. They want to get all the players on the field and start moving them around. But the reader doesn't know where the story is going and doesn't care about sophisticated plot points until they have made the decision to keep reading. If we don't get them invested in the story or in the characters the chances are they are going to quit reading.

We have only one page to get them reading. We have ten pages to get them invested in the story. Then we have to earn that investment over and over again a chapter at a time. Introducing multiple subplots before we have the reader interested in the main plot can be very confusing and tends to push the reader out of the story.

At least that's the way I see it. I just couldn't get everything straight in my head to get down into the story to see how it developed. I shouldn't have to work that hard to do it. And I was pretty sure an editor was going to react the same way if I sent it to them.


Rick Barry said...

Thanks, Terry. Reminders of why manuscripts fail are as helpful as the positive of advice of why some succeed.

Blessings to you!

Linda Glaz said...

Absolutely. I had a brilliant writer's work when I first started as an agent. But she had so many story lines going, I wished she had just picked one and stuck with it. I think about that story to this day and hope she did well. But alas, I'm afraid she divided it up to much.

Terri Tiffany said...

I think this point is one we writers often forget in the heat of writing. Thank you!

Jenny McLeod Carlisle said...

We absolutely must put ourselves in the reader's shoes. If it is too much work to plow through the first chapter or so, they will move on to other things.Great reminder.

Jenny McLeod Carlisle said...
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