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interesting (from literary agent)

Switch Blayde

I heard about a site called Manuscript Wish List. There's one area where people ask a literary agent questions and he responds. I thought this one was interesting;

What is the most off-putting and/or common mistake agents see in the first five pages of a MS?


To me, spelling mistakes. A close second: telling not showing.

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

I thought this one was interesting;

I would have been baffled if you didn't think it interesting.

Ernest Bywater

What we really need is information on how to get a manuscript into an agent's hands.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

What we really need is information on how to get a manuscript into an agent's hands.


I believe that's one of the purposes of the site.

These are agents looking for manuscripts. So what they say is important.

Why did I find his comment interesting? Because people here keep saying information they're getting is unfounded and not from anyone who knows what they're talking about. Not proven and therefore not correct.

So getting a manuscript in an agent's hands won't get very far if it gets tossed in the trash bin.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I believe that's one of the purposes of the site.


the url would be nice, please. A google search on the name turns up a few sites.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

These are agents looking for manuscripts. So what they say is important.

It is important if you want to sell a manuscript to them. Which I believe isn't at the forefront of everyone's mind in this forum.

A literary agent is a part of the entertainment industry. An industry which isn't known to be particularly adventurous. Once they detedect a selling concept, they cannibalize it until no one wants to see it anymore. Which means the literary agent in question might very well know which stories currently sell the best but it doesn't mean he generally owns a superior taste for quality in regards to writing.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

It is important if you want to sell a manuscript to them. Which I believe isn't at the forefront of everyone's mind in this forum.


But, hopefully, what is in the forefront of everyone's mind here is to produce a great story. I learn from people who know more than I.

but it doesn't mean he generally owns a superior taste for quality in regards to writing.


Sorry, I don't agree. A lot of the advice discussed on this forum came from professional editors. Some from traditionally published authors. Some from literary agents. Those are the "experts" in the field. We are not.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

Sorry, I don't agree.

No reason to be sorry. I don't refute that the present taste of a vast majority of readers favors ' showing' stories. I just don't agree to a premise that there are any objective and timeless measurements for the quality of a story. Jane Austen's stories are neither worse nor are they better than the stories written today, only the preferences are different today, and they will change again.

sunkuwan

@Switch Blayde

I believe that's one of the purposes of the site.

These are agents looking for manuscripts. So what they say is important.

Why did I find his comment interesting? Because people here keep saying information they're getting is unfounded and not from anyone who knows what they're talking about. Not proven and therefore not correct.


Sorry to say this, but any agent that dismisses a script because of grammar or spelling mistakes is outright shit. That's what editors are for. Storywise, he could have the next ASOIF, Twilight, or Harry Potter between his hands and he is throwing it in the trash bin.

Sure, it is tedious to read bad grammar stories and he probably gets thousands, but that's his job, finding the gem in the shitpile. And bad grammar can be easily fixed with an editor, a bad story, not so much. even telling/showing can be fixed with a good editor.

Just because this site is cherrypicking their stories and dismissing good stories with bad grammar, doesn't mean an aspiring author should just ditch his dream of publishing. Many successful authors had to pitch their script to dozens of agents, some even had bad grammar.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Wow, an agent actually prepared to judge a MS on the MS!

There are so many snowflakes in the industry these days who look for excuses to not even touch the MS. Cover letter starts 'Dear Sir'? Bin. Not enough comps in the cover letter? Bin. Bio too cis? Bin. Grammatical error in the bio? Bin.

Rejecting a MS because of spelling mistakes is fair enough. The days of agents employing editors and proofreaders is pretty much over - they expect the MS to be pretty much print ready. But telling, not showing, as a close second? That raises warning flags against the agent.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

Not just any agent either. You want agents who have proven credentials in your MS's genre and can show examples of authors they've placed with major publishers.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

Sorry to say this, but any agent that dismisses a script because of grammar or spelling mistakes is outright shit. That's what editors are for. Storywise, he could have the next ASOIF, Twilight, or Harry Potter between his hands and he is throwing it in the trash bin.

That's become VERY common. Publishers used to keep whole teams of editors permanently employed. Now they tell authors "Get your work professionally edited". If it's not, they'll flatly reject it, because they don't want to hire someone to do the work themselves.

The days when a publisher does that kind of thing for you are long, long gone.

As far as you're second point, about wading through a pile of crap, they're looking for stories with promise. If an author doesn't even comprehend how to show emotions, he's basically not ready for prime time. He simply doesn't know enough, and what's more, doesn't comprehend how to implement it, even if someone else points it out to him/her.

And as far as famous authors being rejected by dozens of publishing houses (for stories like "50 Shades of Gray" and "Harry Potter"), those stories are routinely criticized for being poorly written. They may be enjoyable to read, but few would pick them as being 'wonderfully written'. Why do you think J. K. Rowling hasn't been able to succeed with a single 'adult' (non-X-rated) novel?

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@Crumbly Writer

I don't know that I'm qualified to speak to the current state of things. When I first had an interest in writing about twenty-five years ago the industry was dramatically different.

State of the art for most writers was longhand on legal pads and then transcribed into a manuscript form on a typewriter. Spellcheck? You had better have a damn good dictionary. I still have mine.

The ability to self-publish is both a blessing and a curse. A lot of the rigor of writing has been lost. I feel that we are the poorer for that loss. On the other hand, we have gained a lot of stories that would have never have existed without it.

What has come into existence as far as I can tell is that there are no standards as to what is acceptable for publication.

Different houses always had their own guidelines but there were still boundaries as to grammar, style, and punctuation that the houses adhered to. A manuscript had to be truly superb to survive if it violated them. It makes sense. If you don't know how to use the tools why would I trust what you built with them?

Switch Blayde

@sunkuwan

Sorry to say this, but any agent that dismisses a script because of grammar or spelling mistakes is outright shit.


I read other comments from an agent elsewhere where they said they looked for reasons to reject. There were a whole list of items that would automatically cause it to go into the trash. The reason is they have too many to go through.

But that's different. This is not spelling the agent's name wrong (I remember one saying that was an automatic rejection). They are looking for a great story, great characters, AND a quality manuscript. Of course they or the publisher will have different types of editors to make it better, but if there are spelling errors in the first five pages it means the author is lazy. If the first 5 pages is telling, they expect the rest of the manuscript to be telling.

I understand not many here seek to be traditionally published. Or even self-publish. But authors should listen to the people whose jobs depend on getting it right.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

But authors should listen to the people whose jobs depend on getting it right.


do their jobs actually depend on getting it right? Beyond simply using raw sales numbers, how can they even determine if they got it right?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

do their jobs actually depend on getting it right? Beyond simply using raw sales numbers, how can they even determine if they got it right?


Yes.

A literary agent only makes money when they sell your novel to a publisher and it makes money. If they don't do it right, they're out of business.

An Acquisition Editor at a publisher is judged by their successes. If they choose the wrong novels, they lose their jobs.

If a publisher doesn't find moneymaking novels, they go out of business. After all, they lay out all the money.

Believe me, like any other business, they have metrics to determine their successes and failures.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

What exactly is interesting about the statement of this expert? I don't remember anyone in this forum ever argued 'showing' constitutes a bad form of writing. In the same manner, even the most religious advocates of 'show don't tell' always conceded that 'telling' at times still can be the right choice. Did that change?

sunkuwan

Why don't the agent look at the original fiction that is already posted? Some authors have proven that they can write a successful story.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I understand not many here seek to be traditionally published. Or even self-publish. But authors should listen to the people whose jobs depend on getting it right.


Switch,

I would exactly word that as 'getting it right,' so much as getting it the way the gatekeepers want it. There are many ways to get it right, but they aren't all the same as what any particular gatekeeper wants. The gatekeepers in the way of the agents and publishers editors each have their own preferences and if you don't meet them, to bad so sad you're gone. Over time those preferences and people change, so what was not acceptable one day may be acceptable a month later.

The real evidence of this is the number of new works the publishers put out that meet what they demand be submitted, but aren't enjoyed by the reading public and thus don't sell well.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
robberhands

Another dubious post on behalf of Ross at Play. You can view the 'dubious' remark as my disclaimer.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

if there are spelling errors in the first five pages it means the author is lazy.

Precisely! It proves the author is not an obsessive maniac, and therefore, their chances of ever being more than a one-hit wonder are zero.

It is not hard to get most of your spelling, grammar, and punctuation correct - if you care enough.

Obviously, the standards are looser for fiction, but agents want to see non-standard usages are intentional, not just the author not knowing or caring enough.

Authors limit their potential if they rely on editors to fix their mistakes, beyond the occasional ones which will always slip through and you hope the final proofreader will detect.

What is a reader to think when they spot something non-standard? If the author has established their trust, and shown they get things right whenever they want to, only then will the reader accept what they see as an artistic choice the author has made. Without that trust, the reader just assumes it is another mistake: the author effectively throws away whatever ability they have to show their artistic creativity.

Replies:   sunkuwan  Crumbly Writer
sunkuwan
Updated:

@robberhands

@ Ross at Play

I wouldn't say that the ability to spellcheck says anything about the potential to become more than a one-hit-wonder. It just says that the author knows how to use MS-Word.

Musicians don't send Studio-quality tapes to Agents. They send home-taped, self-sung demos.
Film-Makers don't send Hollywood level CGI to Studios. They send, low-detail, probably lagging proofs-of-concept
Game-Makers don't send AAA-level polished games to publishers. They send barely functioning, bug-riddled proofs-of-concept.
Artists don't send massively detailed pictures or characters. They send sketches.

Then why is it an automatic trash bin if, a literary author focuses more on the Story then the representation?

Ernest Bywater

@sunkuwan

Then why is it an automatic trash bin if, a literary author focuses more on the Story then the representation?


because the agent / editor is lazy and doesn't want to do any real work if he can avoid it.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

What exactly is interesting about the statement of this expert? I don't remember anyone in this forum ever argued 'showing' constitutes a bad form of writing. In the same manner, even the most religious advocates of 'show don't tell' always conceded that 'telling' at times still can be the right choice. Did that change?

I think it's two things about the 'telling' in the first five pages. First, if it's all telling, then that basically shouts: "This bozo doesn't know what he's doing", but more importantly, if the author is telling in the first five pages, that's the wrong place to do it, because those first couple pages are a book's most important pages. If you can't demonstrate your story is worth reading them, most readers won't even bother with it.

Telling, in moderation, throughout the story isn't a mortal sin, but telling consistently in the first page/chapter is.

There's also a third piece here, if the 'telling' is actually author intrusion, then that's yet another red-flag.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

Why don't the agent look at the original fiction that is already posted? Some authors have proven that they can write a successful story.

Believe me, if you sell a million copies of a self-published novel, publishers will be beating down your door with a contract in hand, technical quality be damned. However, unless you have that proven sales and marketing backing, then the entire risk falls on the publishing house, and then publish what they know sells.

Replies:   sunkuwan  awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I would exactly word that as 'getting it right,' so much as getting it the way the gatekeepers want it. There are many ways to get it right, but they aren't all the same as what any particular gatekeeper wants. The gatekeepers in the way of the agents and publishers editors each have their own preferences and if you don't meet them, to bad so sad you're gone.

I can attest to this, because I never have, and never will submit my work to a traditional publishing house. I simply don't write in a style (writing style, not Style Book style) that they want to publish. I can accept that, but arguing whether there's any merit in 'showing', or that it's 'just a fad', when authors were 'showing' in the mid-1800s, is pointless.

If you want to write crap, then own up to it, but don't blame publishers for having publishing standards for your not wanting to put the effort into learning necessary writing techniques. (Not you, Ernest, I was simply responding to the one line quoted about publishers being the gatekeepers.)

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

What is a reader to think when they spot something non-standard? If the author has established their trust, and shown they get things right whenever they want to, only then will the reader accept what they see as an artistic choice the author has made. Without that trust, the reader just assumes it is another mistake: the author effectively throws away whatever ability they have to show their artistic creativity.

Hear, hear! Excellent point.

I daresay, when you're not here, shouting each point, your words carry more weight. Methinks I should pay attention, but I'm too busy responding to ever post to consider the implications. 'D

Darian Wolfe

@Ernest Bywater

I may be stepping over a line here and if I am please forgive me as it is unintentional. I refuse to allow a proofreader, editor, or anyone to read my work until it is as ship-shape as I can make it. I want it formatted properly. I want the spelling, grammar, and punctuation to be as correct as I can get it.

My work is a reflection upon me. I do not want to be judged as slovenly or illiterate when I can take the time to do my best.

I admit to being biased. I have no respect for a writer that doesn't turn in their best. Now, their best may be shit. It is shit I will respect IF it's the best they can do at that time.

Anyhow, that's my opinion feel free to agree or disagree as you will.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

Musicians don't send Studio-quality tapes to Agents. They send home-taped, self-sung demos.
Film-Makers don't send Hollywood level CGI to Studios. They send, low-detail, probably lagging proofs-of-concept

I think you're still living in a world that has long died away, and expecting everyone else to support your fantasy creation.

Think of it this way, those musicians, film-makers and game-makers are each stepping up their game, purchasing and mastering the same high-quality tools the professionals use. If you don't step up your own game, to compete with everyone else, you won't fail because of the 'gatekeepers', you'll fail purely because your work can't compete with everyone else vying for your position.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Then why is it an automatic trash bin if, a literary author focuses more on the Story then the representation?

because the agent / editor is lazy and doesn't want to do any real work if he can avoid it.

Or, because publishers no longer work in the 'publisher's stable' world, where a publisher accepts someone who's 'promising', and then pours money into helping them become a long-term best-seller. Instead, you're got to be ready to sell on your first shot, otherwise you'll be dumped, and publisher isn't going to invest money in you, because chances are, you'll jump ship the first time someone flashes you some green (or you think you can make more on your own).

The age of publishers 'grooming' anyone are long gone!

Replies:   sunkuwan
Ernest Bywater

@Darian Wolfe

I want it formatted properly. I want the spelling, grammar, and punctuation to be as correct as I can get it.


Darian,

I'm much the same way, which is why it took years before I made my books available as e-pubs, because I couldn't find a way to make and e-book that didn't screw over the formatting I used. When I found a way to do that I made everything available as e-pubs. I do have some editors and proof readers who help clean up my typos and errors. But once I've got it ready for publication I want it to go out the way I have it, and not have someone else make changes later.

However, the point I was making about gatekeepers and being right is I know some people in the publishing industry and they say the only right way to write a fiction story is in third person point of view using past tense. To them everything else is wrong. Yet in times past only present tense was the right way for the publishers. All the options are right as far as English and writing are concerned, the rest is just a personal preference of the editor or the reader. That was what I was commenting on, that they are not the sole arbitrators of what is right, they can only arbitrate on what they want.

Darian Wolfe

@Ernest Bywater

That was what I was commenting on, that they are not the sole arbitrators of what is right, they can only arbitrate on what they want.


I absolutely agree.

robberhands

... the usual disclaimer

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I daresay, ...

You may dare.

Fear not, my ally/foe, I shall return. I'm back from Malaysia but confirmed while there I need to use a VPN service. All my recent connection difficulties are being caused by Tor browser, which was never good but is useless now.

I also learned in Malaysia my cholesterol levels are about 60% higher than when last tested. I know precisely what to do about that, but I must teach some local university students who work for me how to cook. So, intermittent posts may continue until connecting to a VPN rises near the top of my priorities, and actually, it is rather nice. :-)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

I need to use a VPN service.


I use Tunnel Bear and have it set to surface in Canada.

www.tunnelbear.com

Replies:   Bondi Beach
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

because the agent / editor is lazy and doesn't want to do any real work if he can avoid it.


Sadly there's more than a grain of truth in that.

Although it's never been easier to write, thanks to advances in technology, the size of the traditional publishing market hasn't grown commensurately. It's now what's known as a 'broken market' because all the power is in the hands of agents and publishers. Long gone are the days when the Hemingways could send their hand-written stories a chapter at a time to their very grateful publishers. :(

AJ

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

In the same manner, even the most religious advocates of 'show don't tell' always conceded that 'telling' at times still can be the right choice. Did that change?


No, some recent multi-million bestselling novels have been mostly telling. That's why I said the anti-telling attitude of SB's agent raised a red flag.

A good agent should read the three sample chapters or whatever of the MS and decide whether they like it or not. If they don't like it, then is the time to seek out reasons why.

AJ

Bondi Beach

@Ernest Bywater

I use Tunnel Bear and have it set to surface in Canada.


So that's your Bear I keep running into up "here." I wondered.

bb

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
sunkuwan

@Crumbly Writer

Believe me, if you sell a million copies of a self-published novel, publishers will be beating down your door with a contract in hand, technical quality be damned. However, unless you have that proven sales and marketing backing, then the entire risk falls on the publishing house, and then publish what they know sells.


I don't mean published works in this example. I mean literally, looking at the successful Wattpad, Fictionpress, etc. stories and contacting those authors. It should be more promising than looking at thousands of early scripts that are either awful overall, bog-standard, or not proven to be consistent.

You can have your edited-to-death 3 chapter script, that the author polished for a year laying before your hands but it doesn't prove that the Author can finish it in this quality and in a timely manner.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

@Bondi Beach

So that's your Bear I keep running into up "here." I wondered.


Ayep, and he can get a little grizzly at times, too.

sunkuwan

@Crumbly Writer

The age of publishers 'grooming' anyone are long gone!


And that's why some publishers will cease to exist and the whole publishing book space will die slowly.

If only "focus-tested", "edited-to-death", "dot-all-the-i's-and-cross-the t's", Agent-optimised" scripts are floating in the publisher space then the market will surely shrink.
There will only be published works that feel "samey", no experiments, no different style, just agent/publisher optimized works.

Publishers HAVE to groom their own authors if they want to survive. If the Authors have to buy their own editors and their works get rejected because it doesn't fit the current narrative, then why should they work with a publisher in the first place? The more the physical book market dies, the more self-publishing becomes attractive.
If the publishers don't groom their own authors then they are pointless.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@sunkuwan

You can have your edited-to-death 3 chapter script, that the author polished for a year laying before your hands but it doesn't prove that the Author can finish it in this quality and in a timely manner.


UK agents say that nowadays, publishers are not only insisting that the first novel is complete before they consider it, but that a second novel must be nearing completion too. The 3 chapter teaser is read first, but agents/publishers won't offer a publishing contract without seeing the whole thing. That situation may be different in other countries, and there may be exceptions for authors who are already celebs.

Not only are they promoting the novel but they're promoting the author too, and it's far more expensive to promote authors of a single novel than it is to promote authors of multiple novels, so they look for evidence of a supply-line.

Much of the work of promotion falls upon authors - doing interviews, book signings etc. It's important, perhaps even vital, that the bio accompanying the submission letter demonstrates an author's willingness to participate in promotional events.

AJ

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@awnlee jawking

Then again, why should an Author need a publishing house in the first place? If he has to buy the editing and even promote himself, he can just hire a normal agent and self-publish.

awnlee jawking

@sunkuwan

Because of the 'broken market, agents are nowadays mandated as gatekeepers for access to the top publishers, who no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts.

You don't use an agent to self-publish. And virtually all authors who self-publish handle their own publicity. Usually it's via social media, but sometimes authors arrange talks with book and writing groups.

Getting published by top publishers is still extremely desirable. The accompanying cachet makes it much easier to attract newspaper and magazine reviews and get books into bookshops and public libraries where they're more likely to be noticed.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Believe me, if you sell a million copies of a self-published novel,


The first self-published author to achieve total sales of a million copies on Amazon was widely reported in the press last year.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

the url would be nice, please.


Someone on another forum asked how to find an agent. Someone else suggested Manuscript Wish List. They did not provide a link so I googled it and found:

http://mswishlist.com

I'm not looking for an agent, but thought the "Ask Agent" would be interesting so I clicked on it and read some questions and answers. I did find them interesting.

Switch Blayde

@robberhands

even the most religious advocates of 'show don't tell' always conceded that 'telling' at times still can be the right choice. Did that change?


Absolutely not. What I got from his comment was that he wanted to be captured right from the beginning. Showing does that more than telling. If the beginning of a novel is telling, it could mean the author doesn't understand "show don't tell" or he doesn't know when to show. A red flag to this literary agent.

And not only this agent. The one time I submitted a novel to a publisher, the editor rejected it with two comments: "Show don't tell and don't head-hop." As I've said before, that started my quest to learn the craft of writing fiction. It's also that, of all the things the editor could have given me feedback on, the first was "show don't tell." Some people will say it's an industry buzzword so they automatically say that, but I believe it's something many authors are guilty of so that's why.

So "show don't tell" is important to those in the industry. They're looking for engaging stories, what critics call cinematic.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

Then why is it an automatic trash bin if, a literary author focuses more on the Story then the representation?

because the agent / editor is lazy and doesn't want to do any real work if he can avoid it.


Absolutely not!

The agent gets thousands of queries. Reading them is a small part of his job. His job is selling manuscripts to publishers and representing their clients. In the agent's mind, it's the author who's lazy. If the author doesn't care enough to spend a little more time on the typos, what does that say about that author's character? Why would the agent want to represent him?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

There's also a third piece here, if the 'telling' is actually author intrusion, then that's yet another red-flag.


Or an info dump.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

Long gone are the days when the Hemingways could send their hand-written stories a chapter at a time to their very grateful publishers. :(


The Max Perkins type people are gone. He converted Hemingway's, Fitzgerald's, and Wolf's manuscripts into novels. If you haven't seen the movie "Genius" about Perkins and Thomas Wolf, watch it. Wolf fought with Perkins all the time, blaming the editor for ruining his masterpiece. Wolf finally left that publisher for another. He never had another hit novel.

Switch Blayde

@sunkuwan

The more the physical book market dies, the more self-publishing becomes attractive.


And the more crap self-published, the more people will migrate back to traditionally published books.

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@Switch Blayde

Didn't work in the gaming industry.
Big Publishers only release a tenth of what they released two decades ago. Digitalization and self-publishing got us many many excellent games. Doesn't matter if there are thousands of crap games also released, there are more good games then ever.

Switch Blayde

@sunkuwan

Then again, why should an Author need a publishing house in the first place? If he has to buy the editing and even promote himself, he can just hire a normal agent and self-publish.


To get onto bookstore shelves. And publishers do offer editing, including developmental editing. After all, if they invest in the book they want it to sell big. They also do the cover and formatting and maybe some marketing before the novel is launched.

The successful self-published authors I've come across on wattpad all spend around $3,000–$6,000 on copy editing, development editing, and cover design. And then they have a budget for advertising. They all say the same thing: "Treat it like a business."

Some of those authors are also traditionally published. They say don't spend the money if you're not self-publishing, but make sure the manuscript is the best you can make it. The competition is fierce.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Someone on another forum asked how to find an agent.


The UK has the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook which lists agents and publishers and their submission requirements. Does the USA not have anything comparable?

Note that the directory isn't comprehensive. These days, anyone and their dog can set themselves up as agents and publishers.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

The UK has the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook which lists agents and publishers and their submission requirements. Does the USA not have anything comparable?


There is. I don't know what it's called, though. I used QueryTracker.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

Someone else suggested Manuscript Wish List. They did not provide a link so I googled it and found:


When I googled that I got 5 different websites, so i wanted to know which you were talking about.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

Reading them is a small part of his job. His job is selling manuscripts to publishers and representing their clients.


Yet he's rejecting things without giving them a proper check - lazy or too quick to eliminate.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

To them everything else is wrong. Yet in times past only present tense was the right way for the publishers. All the options are right as far as English and writing are concerned, the rest is just a personal preference of the editor or the reader. That was what I was commenting on, that they are not the sole arbitrators of what is right, they can only arbitrate on what they want.

Now that's a valid point. As long as the writing is solid, and it's evident the author knows his writing P's & Q's (and has a decent story to tell), to then quibble about personal tastes is pointless (other when searching for a reason to reject someone). However, when we argue that 'showing is over-rated', or so minor it isn't worth taking into consideration (not you), it shows we're only arguing with ourselves. It's akin to arguing about light bulbs, indoor toilets and movable type.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

It's now what's known as a 'broken market' because all the power is in the hands of agents and publishers. Long gone are the days when the Hemingways could send their hand-written stories a chapter at a time to their very grateful publishers. :(

Personally, I think it's broken both ways. Now, even if you get accepted by a publisher, it's likely to help you sell your books or for them to expand and groom their talent, while for authors, we can publish, but 98% of currently 'published' authors can't live off their writing.

Neither publishers nor authors are winning. Right now, the only one who's winning is Amazon. :(

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

A good agent should read the three sample chapters or whatever of the MS and decide whether they like it or not. If they don't like it, then is the time to seek out reasons why.

You'd wish agents were all knowing and receptive to everyone, but they've always made major mistakes (like when every publisher passes on a multi-million dollars project because they think it doesn't deserve the attention. But these people are human, they make mistakes, but they've got to draw a line somewhere. I don't have a problem with where they draw a particular line, as long as it's a recognizable line and we can potentially dance around or bypass it altogether (go to another shop or prove we can publish without them).

What I can't abide, is a publisher that says one thing to one author, and something entirely different to another. That's a broken system, and a publishing house in serious trouble as the one hand can't agree on what the other hand is doing.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

The first self-published author to achieve total sales of a million copies on Amazon was widely reported in the press last year.

I was exaggerating. The author of "The Martian", among others, was reported to have self-published sales in the vacinity of a couple hundred thousand (200,000 - 400,000), though even that number is questionable, since so many give away hundreds to garner reviews or attract attention.

The key, though, is that publishers are now interested in a proven sales record, or flagship 'literary pieces' they can show off and which will win awards, but not earn the author much money. To the publishing houses, everyone else is just so much 'chum'. :(

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

So "show don't tell" is important to those in the industry. They're looking for engaging stories, what critics call cinematic.

I must say, although I recognize the value of showing vs. telling, I'm terrible at it myself, and my telling is typically of the 'author intrusion' variety, as I TELL what the character is thinking, feeling and responding. I still need to learn this technique before anyone will ever consider me a 'meaningful author', but I'm slowly edging towards that goal. That's why, instead, I aim for 'surprising and unusual' plots and keep you on your toes.

However, I at least recognize my limitations, rather than arguing my limitations don't exist.

Now my personality, that definitely exists, and is my biggest stumbling block, but there's not much I can do about it, as Amazon doesn't yet deliver new personality fillers. :(

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Or an info dump.

Which, according to many here, simply doesn't exist, as "all telling" is valid in all circumstances.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

my telling is typically of the 'author intrusion' variety, as I TELL what the character is thinking, feeling and responding.


That's because you write in omniscient. That's what omniscient narrators do.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The successful self-published authors I've come across on wattpad all spend around $3,000–$6,000 on copy editing, development editing, and cover design. And then they have a budget for advertising. They all say the same thing: "Treat it like a business."

Some of those authors are also traditionally published. They say don't spend the money if you're not self-publishing, but make sure the manuscript is the best you can make it. The competition is fierce.

I got burned the one time I did hire a decent editor, and the few times I've tried to nickle and dime ad buys (Facebook or Goodreads), but I think I need to seriously start considering investing in my novels (copy editors, development editors, advertising, promotion, marketing, etc.). However, there's no way I can justify any of that considering my current sales. It's more of a personal money sink than an actual ongoing business. Thus I'm reluctant to sink serious money into it. :(

Replies:   sunkuwan  Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Which, according to many here, simply doesn't exist, as "all telling" is valid in all circumstances.


And many also imply if they don't outright state that it's never valid under any circumstances which is equally false.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

And many also imply if they don't outright state that it's never valid under any circumstances which is equally false.

That's not so much deception as a 'Try it, you'll like it' strategy from the old "Mickey!" commercials. A lot of authors face this hurdle, and so a cottage industry has developed to nudge them over it with various books, wall-hangings and internet memes. The idea is to simply get a few more authors over than particular hurdle, and once there, hopefully once there, they'll life a few more over the hump.

But I don't know of anyone who's ever claimed that telling is always wrong, simply that, in many circumstances, it's weaker storytelling than spending a little more time crafting a particular passage.

That's especially true in the opening chapters, for dramatic or emotional scenes, or in the epic scenes at the end of a story. Telling in those cases is an epic fail, as many readers will simply throw the book down if they think the author is simply 'phoning it in'.

Keep in mind, though, I still haven't gotten the technique down. In my latest book—the one with all the aliens fighting an epic intergalactic war—I can't use the normal 'showing' techniques, since I can't rely on aliens having the name nuanced actions as humans do, so I'm forced to tell the majority of the time. It's having a definite affect on the story. :(

Replies:   Dominions Son
sunkuwan

@Crumbly Writer

How many Publishers/Agents did you contact with your edited novels? What did they say?

If you don't have money to burn, you CAN'T treat it like a business. You just can't invest thousands on editors if your first book didn't sell or recovered the editing costs.

It is folly to give aspiring authors advice to invest thousands before they even finished their first book. Just let them WRITE.
If they are bad, then even the tenth novel is bad. But they wouldn't have sunk their money on an unachievable dream. Either they get better themselves or with their communities help or not. Even a luxury editor can#t make a turd shine.
If they are good or can improve on their first novels, they can later either directly go to a publisher and show them their best work or they can invest in self-publishing.
Or, you know, they find the publisher who invests in his authors, even if it takes hundreds of rejections.

The whole "you must polish your novel 200% and remember to check all the boxes that the agent wants to see" and "Don't even try to write something if you don't want to invest thousands" mantra is turning people away from writing.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Thus I'm reluctant to sink serious money into it. :(


I won't either. But I'm not trying to make it a business.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

To have a prejudice against 'telling' suggests the agent's expertise doesn't lie in crime and action thrillers. I wonder what genres the agent does specialise in? Romance, Fantasy, Literary Fiction (spit), Historical?

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

How many Publishers/Agents did you contact with your edited novels? What did they say?

As I've said before, I started writing because I missed the more complicated books pre-1950s, which publishers no longer publish, so I've never submitted my works.

However, I do publish my own work (16 books and 3 box sets), however, the funds dribble in (sale of 50 - 200 books, rather than millions or hundreds of thousands).

To make this a business, I've got to get off my ass, figure out which investments are the best, and try to get my book in front of more people. You can't make a living off of SOL fans. :(

My 'bad editor' experience before was my attempting to learn 'how to self-edit', the same process that Ross is currently undergoing here, but it left me with an 'unpublishable' book (I've since published it, but it required me to trash EVERYTHING the editor contributed).

I keep honing my craft, leaning how to write/format/design, etc., but I need to cross the last barrier, and learn how to market my works. They're all available online, but few readers are discovering them. :( Still, I'm earning more than the vast majority (70%) of most 'published' authors at this point (which is itself, a very sad story).

Darian Wolfe
Updated:

@sunkuwan

The whole "you must polish your novel 200% and remember to check all the boxes that the agent wants to see" and "Don't even try to write something if you don't want to invest thousands" mantra is turning people away from writing.


I don't see how. If it is in you to write deep enough then you will write. Now, as to whether you will make a living at it is another story. Many fiction writers with eight, ten or fifteen book published still only make a modest living.

I noticed that a lot of writers make what I would guess to be a decent proportion of their money from conventions and writing seminars.

My theory is if you're making a living selling books on how to write bestsellers it's probably because you can't write them yourself.

I'm not really knocking it. It does give new writers somewhere to go to learn the basics and get some encouragement.

The only paid software I use is Scrivener. Which costs about U.S. $40.00. Prior to that, I used Ywriter which is free. On that software, I wrote one novella which sold as well as several articles and ads which also sold.

If I were to write a major manuscript that I had invested much time in and was interested in a dead tree publisher I would most definitely retain an agent, and spend the cash to get the best editor I could afford after giving 3000% personal editing to get the manuscript correct before sending it to them.

MY reputation as a craftsman is on the line and a publisher will take the effort to assist someone who obviously puts in the effort before someone who doesn't.

I'm not wealthy by any means. I don't have hundreds of dollars to invest. Yet, if I were to go commercial again. I would treat it as a business. Receipts for taxes, hours logged for productivity ratios, the whole nine yards. A business is a business or it's not. It's exactly that simple.

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@Darian Wolfe

But you are already "established," you wrote several things that sold.

The narrative here is that you have to invest in editors before even one work is out in the wild.

You don't see how that would turn away aspiring writers? Most writers probably dream of getting published. Just write something and post it on the internet or send the scripts to Agents. Maybe someone will pick it up or your online story gets noticed. Those type of people are writing in their free time and don't polish their works 3000%, and they certainly don't buy an editor to polish their work.

Let's just pause here and think about this. Agent's get thousands of scripts on their desk. If they expect AAA-quality scripts, that means those thousands of people must either have a tremendous talent or a paid editor.

That feels more like a Pyramid scheme from the Editor "guild" Instead of getting paid by the publisher of the one book that gets chosen, they get to work on hundreds of scripts.

Darian Wolfe

@sunkuwan

How did I

Get Established

I wrote my heiney off and tightened my manuscripts in my free time sometimes while working 50+ hours a week and raising a family.

I went to the library and read books on writing. I found fiction books I liked and started copying them out by hand, making sure I copied the capitalization and punctuation as perfectly as I could. I did that so the word patterns would start burning into my brain.

I printed out my manuscripts and did a hand edit line by line then went and corrected the digital copies and then did it again. That's on raising a family of five on less than $30,000 a year.

I sent out letters and samples. I did what I needed to do. Did I make it big? No. Did I make it small? Not really, but I have sold a little and I have become a writer. Making a living at writing has a large component of luck, but that luck is made so much greater by putting in the sweat.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

But you are already "established," you wrote several things that sold.

The narrative here is that you have to invest in editors before even one work is out in the wild.

No, we're saying that the major, traditional publishers, require you to have your own work edited. As you've undoubtedly noted, many first-time SOL authors don't even make the attempt to edit their works (i.e. they don't request editors before posting their works online).

IF you want to go the traditional route, you need to hire an editor. There is no other way around it. That said, those same authors don't have to worry about design or formatting, which is where I spend the majority of my writing income at the moment, because the publisher chooses to control that effort. They choose not to hire editors to help authors, but they have paid designers on staff, waiting for work.

The idea is that, if you want to write, you put the time into learning the craft first. For most aspiring authors, that means investing about ten years into refining their talents in school. Few of us SOL authors, who mostly turn to writing after we've already retired, took that route. For us, we either turn here, ASSTR or if we're younger Wattpad. There, you can develop your talents without investing large sums of money.

That feels more like a Pyramid scheme from the Editor "guild" Instead of getting paid by the publisher of the one book that gets chosen, they get to work on hundreds of scripts.

At one point, it was unheard of for an individual author to hire their own editor. Back in those days, the publishing houses hired the majority of professional editors, and they assigned them to their authors (the same way they assign designers and artists now).

However, as they started losing money, the publishing houses decided to shove their expenses onto the backs on authors. If you think the publishing houses are in trouble, consider the current state for professional editors. How many struggling authors can afford several hundred to several thousands per book? Not many, which is partially why we have so many failing books! They're poorly constructed, lack a professional quality, and hurt the author's reputation rather than helping them sell more books.

I feel sorry for most editors. They bend over backwards, trying to reach out to authors, often giving away hours and spending inordinate amounts of time 'marketing' their services rather than working on editing (which only raises the costs for everyone).

We have a very nice situation here at SOL, where anyone can find a decent collection of knowledgeable, non-professional editors, who get to be a part of a rich literary tradition and often go on to write themselves.

But, in the end, you get what you pay for. If you want to write professionally, then you've got to pay for the services that you require, and not expect everyone else to hand you the keys to your new career.

Crumbly Writer

@Darian Wolfe

Did I make it small? Not really, but I have sold a little and I have become a writer. Making a living at writing has a large component of luck, but that luck is made so much greater by putting in the sweat.

Most 'successful' authors I know mostly stumbled into success, finding a specific niche market. One gave a copy of her biographic story (about her husband's recovery from a major trauma) picked up and promoted by her physician, and now she mostly sells to doctors and their patients—a ready-made niche market.

Others write 'regional' fiction, either children's books about a specific tourist region, or books about a region you can read while laying out on the beach.

My problem, is that I primarily write science fiction, and I place my stories in major cities where I don't live, so it's difficult marketing my books (no visiting each bookstore to personally hawk my latest book), and I refuse to write about friendly crabs and pirates (my 'local market).

The other thing that I've noticed, is that those few who succeeded largely by accident, is that they aren't committed to the craft, and aren't interested in writing any more. It's solely a 'one and done' career. Essentially, they found success too easy and weren't challenged by it, while those of us who are struggle every day with it.

But, there are those who stumble into success, and then there are the vast 'unwashed' universe of struggling authors.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@sunkuwan

The narrative here is that you have to invest in editors before even one work is out in the wild.


I'm not sure what you mean by that. As I said, the authors I know who earn a living writing do not pay for editing before they submit to a publisher or agent. They only do that when they self-publish because they are the publisher.

What they do, though, is polish their manuscript as best they can, run it through critique partners and beta readers, etc. They make it the best they can before the publisher/agent sees it.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Most 'successful' authors I know mostly stumbled into success, finding a specific niche market.


There's an author I know on wattpad who's very successful — Michael J. Sullivan. He gets 1/2 million dollar advances. Well he used to before the Hatchett CEO said they demand all rights and he wasn't willing to give up the audio rights so he left them.

Did he "stumble" into success? He wrote 12 novels before publishing his first one. And he gave up trying to publish for years, starting a marketing company to support his family. It was his wife who encouraged him to try again — and then he was an "overnight success."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

That's not so much deception as a 'Try it, you'll like it' strategy from the old "Mickey!" commercials.


I disagree, I do consider it deceptive, and intentionally so. And yes, I consider the kinds of commercials you reference to be deceptive too.

That's especially true in the opening chapters, for dramatic or emotional scenes, or in the epic scenes at the end of a story. Telling in those cases is an epic fail


Agreed, for that specific case.

However, sometimes you want or need to start with a little world building, rather than a dramatic/emotional scene.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

I wonder what genres the agent does specialise in? Romance, Fantasy, Literary Fiction (spit), Historical?


Fantasy requires world building, which requires more telling.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

It can be heavy on the telling in those circumstances, but if the fantasy is character-driven, the author can get away with drip-feeding minimal world-building details when needed.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

As I said, the authors I know who earn a living writing do not pay for editing before they submit to a publisher or agent.


There doesn't seem to be a hard and fast rule and it may differ from country to country. Paying for a professional editor for at least your first MS may well help make a favourable impression on an agent. The agent you cited said that spelling mistakes are their top bugbear, and a professional editor should pick up the easy to miss ones such as homophones.

Some agents might not reject a MS out of hand but suggest the author get it professionally edited. They might even recommend a particular editor.

In the UK, agents and publishers expect a MS to be virtually print-ready. Some in-house editing does happen - the first Harry Potter book shows clear signs of it - but authors can't generally expect to have it done for them.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Did he "stumble" into success? He wrote 12 novels before publishing his first one. And he gave up trying to publish for years, starting a marketing company to support his family. It was his wife who encouraged him to try again — and then he was an "overnight success."

Sorry, although it sounded like it, I wasn't trying to make a blanket statement that ALL successful writers were 'accidental successes', only that many are, though I have no clue just how prevalent that demographic is. It was more a 'you can't always predicts how you'll succeed, so it's best to plot alternative strategies (i.e. find your own niche and promote the hell out of it, if you have that option).

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

However, sometimes you want or need to start with a little world building, rather than a dramatic/emotional scene.

Wait, weren't you one of the one's that insisted that worldbuilding 'info dumps' weren't real, they never happen, and thus it's a non-issue and that I was inventing the entire premise up out of whole cloth?

I understand the need for world-building, and I wasn't attacking it, merely suggesting workarounds to diminish their negative influence on an author's work. That's why I suggested stretching the 'world-building' across multiple chapters, so it doesn't come as one dense block at the very beginning of your story. But that suggestion only applies if you CAN stretch your world-building out, not all stories fit that scenario. My suggestion was hardly a "RULE" of writing, merely a suggested approach.

I went back to my very first story. After trying to market it as a "BOX Set" combined volume, I decided it needed yet another revision, but I discovered the entire 'who is this person, why is he here and what is his background' was entirely unnecessary. Instead, I just jumped right into the action, and the other material simply didn't matter. I could sprinkle in the details when it was necessary, rather than 'setting up' the story ahead of time. I think it strengthens the story, rather than weakening it.

But yes, there are plenty of times when it's actively better to tell than to show, including in the first chapters, if necessary. You just need to think as you include it, asking whether telling is appropriate in each case. The idea that an agent would see it as a red-flag isn't that they saw a single instance of it, but more likely they saw it as a weakness of the author in question.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I wonder what genres the agent does specialise in? Romance, Fantasy, Literary Fiction (spit), Historical?

Fantasy requires world building, which requires more telling.

On a separate note, I'll try to subvert the thread for my own means. Switch mentioned that I relied on more direct author intrusion because I was writing in 3rd-person omni, which got me wondering.

What are the genre trends with POV? Do certain genres reply on specific POV requirements, and do you risk running afoul of genre readers if you don't follow the commonly accepted standard POV?

More specifically, Switch, do mysteries typically feature either 1st or 3rd-person limited, to the exclusion of 3rd omni, or is 3rd Omni merely another option, open to any author.

I haven't seen this specifically addressed anywhere else, and as an author who sometimes switches genres, I'd like to know the potential landmines before I stumble across one.

sunkuwan

political and massive-scope Novels mostly use a bunch of different POV's. Like ASoIF and Peter F. Hamiltons works.
Hero-Type Fantasy/Sci-Fi/CoA/Young-Adult Novels, not so much.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

They might even recommend a particular editor.


That's a red flag. I once read an article about an agent (or maybe a small publisher) who recommended an editor. The editor happened to be him under a different name. It was a scam.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Switch mentioned that I relied on more direct author intrusion because I was writing in 3rd-person omni, which got me wondering.


I meant more telling, not author intrusion.

What are the genre trends with POV?


I'm no expert but…

Mysteries are very common in 1st-person. The reader lives the story through the detective, going on false trails with him, learning when he learns it, etc. 3rd-limited is also used. "Steele Justice" is 3rd-limited, but it could easily have been 1st-person.

SciFi and Fantasy are, in my opinion, the most common omniscient nowadays. I think it's because there's information none of the characters know. Someone has to tell the reader so it's the omniscient narrator. Sometimes it's written in 3rd-limited with an omniscient prologue.

I believe Romance is usually 3rd-limited from both the hero and heroine's POVs.

But there are no real rules. If it works, it's correct. And good authors can mix the rules. I remember reading a novel where each chapter started with an omniscient narrator and then switched to the 3rd-limited POV character for that chapter. "The Da Vinci Code" was a mystery told in 3rd-limited from multiple characters' POVs.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Grrrr, don't you hate bad apples like that!

There are some one-man-and-a-dog 'organisations', for want of a better word, where people fill multiple roles, including agent, editor and publisher. I personally would steer well clear of them unless there's a special reason otherwise, such as the people being personal friends of the author or the organisation offering cheap vanity publishing.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Wait, weren't you one of the one's that insisted that worldbuilding 'info dumps' weren't real, they never happen, and thus it's a non-issue and that I was inventing the entire premise up out of whole cloth?


No, absolutely not. I always insisted that they were sometimes necessary and proper.

ETA: PS. You are one of the one's who at least implies that they are never proper. Why, because you keep calling them 'info dumps' in a way that is clearly intended to be pejorative.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Grrrr, don't you hate bad apples like that!

There are some one-man-and-a-dog 'organisations', for want of a better word, where people fill multiple roles, including agent, editor and publisher. I personally would steer well clear of them unless there's a special reason otherwise, such as the people being personal friends of the author or the organisation offering cheap vanity publishing.

Google is very good at providing feedback on the reliability of small publishing firms, but most seem to be vanity presses, where YOU pay, often purchasing 200 books at a time, with no promotion, no marketing and no real sales. They DO design a cover and format it for you, which is ultimately why so many fall pray to them, but most authors who go that route end up with a garage full of books with no way to unload them, other than their friends and family.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I wasn't attacking it, merely suggesting workarounds to diminish their negative influence on an author's work.


I object to the notion that world building is a negative influence on the author's work.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

But there are no real rules. If it works, it's correct. And good authors can mix the rules. I remember reading a novel where each chapter started with an omniscient narrator and then switched to the 3rd-limited POV character for that chapter. "The Da Vinci Code" was a mystery told in 3rd-limited from multiple characters' POVs.

Thanks. My next SOL posting is a lesbian detective story, but it's more a cross character-study and police drama, rather than an actual mystery. Hopefully I won't get in too much trouble for it, as it does break more than a few rules. However, sales have not been impressive so far. Guess I'll see what my SOL readers think of it.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Do certain genres reply on specific POV requirements, and do you risk running afoul of genre readers if you don't follow the commonly accepted standard POV?


Now that's an interesting question. I hope SB or someone has an answer.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I object to the notion that world building is a negative influence on the author's work.

Again, we're talking past each other. I wasn't implying that "World Building" was, I was referring to the original discussion, where all telling info-dumps were. And that's NOT because their either telling or helping establish the world the characters inhabit, but merely because they MAY indicate a lack of author versatility. It by no means indicates that they are a sure guarantee that the author isn't any good.

I've read many stories that start with necessary world building, including several of my own. One of my best stories essentially starts with a detailed introspective view of each of the primary characters, revealed in dialogue between them. It took up quite a bit of space, but it helped readers understand the conflicts between the characters, which helped the pacing of the rest of the story.

I wasn't rejecting ANY story telling techniques, simply trying to put the literary agents possible objections into perspective. But, not being able to read his mind, I have no clue what his actual problem is. I'm only guessing, based on a few stray comments.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

No, absolutely not. I always insisted that they were sometimes necessary and proper.

No, you're right. I went back and checked. It was a couple of other contributors. Even then, I suspect they were basing their 'there's no such thing as an info-dump' on specific genres where it's simply not used very often.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I wasn't rejecting ANY story telling techniques


Then stop referring to certain techniques in pejorative ways.

robberhands

... the usual disclaimer.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Then stop referring to certain techniques in pejorative ways.

You have a point, I think, DS.

I think a better expression for CW actually means would be "excessive information". That implies something that is situational and still a matter of judgement. It seems we are all agreed that different genres, even different stories, may need more information than usual at the start to get the story rolling.

However, I still take heed of the point I think CW really wants to make, and I suspect, what this agent really meant: modern preferences, at least among those who decide what dead-tree publishers are prepared to invest money in, seem to authors seeking at the beginning of novels to delay telling information and preferring to show their characters and/or establish major plot elements.

Replies:   Dominions Son
PotomacBob

@awnlee jawking

Please tell! Which multi-million bestselling novels?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
docholladay

Well it looks like that one wants to let writers know what he judges on. So don't even submit any stories to him if those problems exist regardless of how good the story might be. Of course if you find one who is looking for a good story first, then go for it, even if you have to have some high powered editing done.

Dominions Son

@robberhands

I think a better expression for CW actually means would be "excessive information".


It's not just that he calls it an info dump, what really makes it come off as pejorative is that he insists on putting it in scare quotes.

robberhands

... the usual disclaimer.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

It's not just that he calls it an info dump, what really makes it come off as pejorative is that he insists on putting it in scare quotes.

Actually, single quotes would be scarier.

The double quotes are effectively tacking on the message, "That is an expression people use, but it's not really true."

Single quotes would effectively tack on the message, "That is an albeit pejorative expression people prefer when describing such things."

awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

My local library was out of novels by my favourite authors that I hadn't yet read so I decided to try one by Denis Lehane, having seen lots of critical acclaim for him. It was a crime/detective procedural with large amounts of narrative occasionally interspersed with dialogue. The lack of 'showing' actually made the overall story rather colourless in my opinion, although the action scenes were very good. I've since tried a couple more of his stories and reached the same opinion.

By their nature, crime procedurals are prone to be heavy on 'telling'.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

By their nature, crime procedurals are prone to be heavy on 'telling'.


Especially in 1st-person.

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