Monday, January 27, 2014

Why We Don't Need A Full Manuscript To Make A Decision

A lot of authors ask me why, the majority of the time, I only request the first three chapters of a project. Why don't I just ask for the full thing?

I have heard other agents and editors say they always request a full because, if they do find something they like, they don't want to have to wait to finally see the rest of the project. Although this is a pretty good reason, the key on this is one simple word - IF.

In most cases, we are able to make a decision on your project in the first three chapters, or 100 pages, as some request. The reason is simple. In those early pages, your voice has been established. Any annoying grammatical or structural problems will also have been established. We know that those first pages have probably been the most worked over by editors, critique partners and you during the initial drafting pages. If there are still problems after all of that, what will the rest of the project look like?

Along the same lines, we should have a pretty good sense of the major characters in the book at this time (or at least the protagonist). We should see a sense of his or her goals, motivations and conflicts. That depth should be there.

When it comes to world building, if you haven't created that three dimensional world in that amount of time, when were you planning on doing so.

As far as the plot goes, we have your synopsis. That is going to be the "storyboard" for us to know if the project really will head in the right direction and end where it needs to be.

I think many authors don't stop and think about their own reading habits. I know that most readers don't keep reading a book if it isn't going to work for them and we know that decision is made pretty early in the process.

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