I got another personalized rejection in response to a query letter recently. If you remember, the first agent liked the characters and plot of WHISPERS IN THE CANYON, but she felt my writing was too brusque. I’ve taken steps to correct that.
The new agent likes my writing and the plot, but rejected it because she did not “connect with the characters” within the first few chapters. And that, to me, is a much more critical problem.
Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to do. So I shared the results with a good friend, also a writer, who read the first few chapters for me and felt the problem might be too much backstory. The portions of these chapters that told the family history were too long. They interrupted the flow of the story and prevented the characters from becoming the centerpiece of it.
Her recommendation was to remove some of it and “sprinkle” it through the later chapters.
“Sprinkle”. I really like that concept. Like you do for the lawn. If you just put the hose out there on the lawn, a small portion of it will be waterlogged, while the rest suffers drought. But if you set the sprinkler up to reach the entire lawn, all of it will be healthily saturated.
So I am again editing, and this time, I’m sprinkling the family history around. Perhaps the next agent who requests pages will find them irresistible. I live in hope.
Slainte! And a tip of the Stetson to T. C. B. (You know who you are!)
2 thoughts on “Query Letter Reaction #2”
Wanting to give too long of a back-story all at once seems to be a common problem. I seem to prefer authors who are able to “sprinkle” their back-story throughout the book. In a way that shows that the author expects me to pay attention, and also that the author thinks that their reader is somewhat intelligent. Even in children’s stories I see a difference in quality between authors who sprinkle and those who do not.
I think it might be something most beginners do. And it reinforces the fact that a group of trusted readers and critiquers is vital to a polished manuscript.
Thanks for your comments!