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The Not-to-Do List

Kristin Nelson's blog Pub Rants tipped me off to a Writer's Digest post on things that agents hate to see in submissions.

Kristin's entry is pretty funny: “In romance, I can’t stand this scenario: A woman is awakened to find a strange man in her bedroom—and then automatically finds him attractive. I’m sorry, but if I awoke to a strange man in my bedroom, I’d be reaching for a weapon—not admiring the view.”

Certainly a logical objection! Some of the other suggestions of things to avoid are more generic (agents dislike prologues, too much description, and an opening chapter in which nothing happens). Some particularly good advice, I thought was to avoid trying to get the character’s backstory on the page before the plot gets to it on its own. Agent Rachelle Gardner, of WordServe Literary, summed it up this way:

"Getting to know characters in a story is like getting to know people in real life. You find out their personality and details of their life over time.”

Good advice!

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Oct. 1st, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
I know, I read that and really liked it. The thing that surprises me, is these poor people must be inindated with stories like this, to have such a hatred for them.

I went through the first chapter of my novel just to make sure none of these points were there. lol, hopefully, they're not.
Oct. 1st, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
Well, you know, I do have one with a prologue. I am reluctant to cut it though, because it takes place 70 years before the main part of the story. I could call it chapter 1, but that makes chapter 2 kind of jarring.

the backstory stuff is so true! I really had ot unlearn that when I was starting.

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