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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Q & A

It's Friday, and time for you to ask questions. We've had a fabulous mixed bag of a week:

Darlene Gardner told us how to give characters' jobs that authentic touch;

Pam Rosenthal revealed how her research became a true-life love story;

Loucinda McGary described the joy of uncovering unexpected research gems;

and Adrienne Regard tried to stop us giving our heroes huge, bad-tempered stallions that reared while bolting.

Any odds n ends you'd like addressed?

Any completely off the wall, outside the box questions that have been bothering you?

We're here!



At 11:00 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Have you ever changed your plot based on some piece of information you discovered in your research? For which book?

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

I have an off-the-wall-out-of-the-box question.

After several years of not sending anything out, once again I find myself in the
throes of Agent Query Hell, trying to paddle my way through the slush pile. Although one of the agents I queried four months ago still hasn't responded, I'm not too worried. I've queried this agent before with a different project and know she takes longer than her
estimated response time. Since sending her a partial, I have
written a short prologue which I think enhances the opening of my
manuscript and strengthens the hook.

My question is: Should I send the additional pages and explain why I
felt they were needed, or should I wait and see if she wants to see
the full and deal with it then? This is an agent I would like to
represent me, and I want to make the best impression possible with
my work. Would it be weird to send a prologue and ask her to tack
it on to the front of my manuscript? I would like for her to read it, but I don't want to sound completely clueless and unprofessional.

I'm leaning toward just sending the thing and taking my chances, but any imput from you would be greatly appreciated.


At 11:14 AM, Blogger Janet Mullany said...

Not yet... I think it's every writer's nightmare, although it might result in a better book. But what if it totally destroyed your concept?

Quite honestly, if it was something minor that only the real rabid Regency nuts would catch (the wrong sort of gown in January, 1813, for instance), I'd let it go.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Rebecca--no, I wouldn't send new pages to an agent once you've submitted. When he/she asks to see more, you can mention the prologue at that time.

I've heard many agents say they're annoyed by potential clients who let them know submissions have been changed or edited and ask if they'd like to see the updated material.

Good luck :-)!

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Janet Mullany said...

Rebecca, I'd send the whole new partial (with prologue) with a note telling her to junk the earlier one, and explain (briefly) how this strengthens the book. It will mean she doesn't have to search through her heap of partials that she may or may not have looked at, which will be a great blessing to her. It will also show her that you're willing to work hard and rewrite if necessary.

The alternative, to nudge her about the partial she already has, gives her an "out" to just send you a rejection.

And if she's notoriously slow in and asks for a full, put a 30-day exclusive on it.

See what the others say!

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Janet Mullany said...

Uh oh, Rebecca, conflicting advice!

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi, Mo :-)! I've changed story directions or timing based on new info I've gathered in my research. But the basic plot? No--because I've usually done a bit of research up front to see if my story will work.

For instance, one story I'm working on now depends on an American taking a job in England. But I discovered in my prewriting research that economic community regulations make that impossible, so I had to add a marriage-of-convenience twist to get my American hired. The research resulted in a new direction for the plot, but it didn't change my basic premise. And I'm having a lot of fun with that new twist :-)!

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Thanks for responding so quickly. I didn't know which way to turn and you've given me some strong, valid arguments to think about. Thanks, guys. You're the best.


At 12:03 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Rebecca: I'm in Janet's camp, although there's definitely a risk that she'll say, "Oh, look, a handy address to send a rejection to and clear my desk a little," without even reading it. On the other hand, I don't want an agent who does that, so I figure it's better to know.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Rebecca, I am not published but I have to say I am in Terry's camp of thinking. My first instinct, was "NO, don't do it!" :) So, there you go...two FOR and two AGAINST. :) Good luck and keep us updated! I just can't believe that a new and/or improved prologue is going to make all the difference...but if you are looking for an excuse to push her along, then that's another story.

Terry, the new marriage of convenience twist sounds awesome!

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Just go with your gut and see what happens!

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

I do agree with Theresa that if the prologue doesn't make a big old difference, then it's probably not the thing to do. You might have other people read it to help you decide on that.

If you do decide to send, definitely just send the whole thing over, as Janet said. If the agent has to dig through her pile to find the other piece, she will not love you.

At 12:12 AM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Rebecca, you're going to hate my answer. The problem here is that agents don't think the same way writers do. They have this belief that whatever authors send ought to be finished and be the best it can be. But authors know there is no such thing as a finished manuscript, especially one that is perfect. So we're always tinkering. And it drives them crazy. Why didn't we just wait until we had it right? Well, because we thought it was right. Until we thought of something to mke it better. We can go over and over it, let it set and go over it again. But as soon as we slap that stamp on it and drop t in the slot, we get that brilliant inspiration that equates with perfection.

They will never understand this. And to them, you just look wishy-washy and unprofessional if you keep on changing things.

Sometimes, though, it's a matter of timing and how you say it. I'd say this applies to full manuscripts, but you can say you've had some new ideas and you've done a complete revision since you originally submitted, and offer to send in the whole new manuscript. But if it hasn't been over six months and isn't a complete, most likely what you'll get s a rejection.

One little thing to keep in mind is, the editor has probably sent it to a contracted reader, who will send it back with recommendations. If the editor has to nag her, she will likely view you as the reason she suddenly looks bad to the editor. So she'll skim and slap a big fat R on it so she can catch up.


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