Thursday, August 23, 2012

"But Scott Only Reads The First Paragraph" Umm, not!

I saw recently that a writer believed that when it came to submissions, I would only read the first paragraph of a piece of writing and then reject the author. I guess it is time to clarify a few things.

First of all, let's understand what I am "saying" when I ask for additional material from an author. These are the 5 basic requests:

SYNOPSIS ONLY - I will ask for this because I need to really know what your storyline is about. You may have not given me enough information in a query letter, or I felt your live pitch was confusing. I should note, many agents and editors I talk to say they won't even take this step. If they don't know what the writing is about in the query, the answer will be a no.

1ST CHAPTER ONLY W/ SYNOPSIS - In this case, it is very similar to the synopsis only request, but there was something that I felt I needed to see in the voice. This is mostly for those projects that sound category but were pitched as a single title project.

1ST 3 CHAPTERS W/ SYNOPSIS - We're into the full voice of the story here. There was obviously enough material in the pitch to get me interested. Now it is a matter of looking at the writing. Why don't I look at the full yet? Simply because I am not completely blown away by the idea yet. It doesn't mean I don't like it. Right now it is a matter of seeing how well you write and how well you can suck me into the story. And yes, I will look at the synopsis to see how the story wraps up.

FULL MANUSCRIPT W/ SYNOPSIS - When I request a full, it means I am blown away by the idea of the project. You have somehow impressed the crud out of me.

FULL MANUSCRIPT AND BLURBS - Same as the first one, but now I want to see if you have other projects that will start to fall in line with a potential marketing plan.

Now, that you understand this, I need to let you know that if I request any amount of material from you, I will read all of it (in most cases).

I say "in most cases" because in all honesty, it becomes very clear in the the opening pages of a story, or reading a synopsis if the story is going to work or not. If you have ever heard editors and agents doing "cold reads" at a conference, you have likely heard this. There IS a moment when we say "NO" and we give up. It could be due to grammar. It could be an issue with the voice. It might be something you did in the storyline/plot that simply isn't going to work for us.

Hope this clears things up.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the post. I am bookmarking this blog. It does clear up a lot.