Time to Think

This is a list by Angela James of Carina Press. They are reasons why editors pass on manuscripts. Keep in mind, I just copied her bullets. To read the editors’ in depth responses, select the link. The list does make you stop and think, “Could this be a problem?”

1. The manuscript doesn’t catch the reader’s attention from the start.
2. The story doesn’t stand out as fresh or unique.
3. The author has included too many unimportant details and not enough important details
4. The writing just isn’t there
5. The voice of the manuscript/characters doesn’t work
6. The reader can’t connect to the characters, they’re not fully realized or believable
7. The story requires too much suspension of disbelief
8. The manuscript starts well but doesn’t follow through
9. Unnecessary subplots
10. The conflict wasn’t sustainable




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14 Responses to “Time to Think”

  1. Janet Johnson says:

    Very enlightening link! Now I have to wonder about mne . . . 🙂

  2. Dara says:

    Thanks! I know my ms probably has a few of these (#9 being one that stands out for me…)

  3. Victoria Dixon says:

    The one I'm afraid of is #1. I have no doubt of my book's power once the reader gets to about page 40. It's getting there that's the problem and I keep having people tell me not to cut because the reader needs to wade into my setting. Of course, they won't get to wade if agent/editors never get beyond page 20…. ;D

  4. Sandy Shin says:

    The ones I think I'm most scared of are #5, 8, and 10, especially #5. I'm still struggling with my own writing style and my character's voice. :>

  5. Sandy Shin says:

    re: the interview

    The interview's still up, but I think it's because some WordPress.com sites are currently not working (or loading for a long time). It didn't work for me earlier, but just worked now. You can try it again here to see. Hope it works! 🙂

  6. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks! I went and checked and it loaded – and I realized I've already read it. I swear, I'm going to meet myself coming one of these days!

  7. Kat O'Keeffe says:

    This is cool! Always nice to keep the questions in mind as you write and edit. Your novel should pass all of these before it's ready!

  8. Emily Ann Benedict says:

    Thanks for posting this. It's hard to face our flaws, but it's an important part of the process. 🙂

  9. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Kat and Emily! Wasn't that a marvelous contest? I found about ten new followers and a TON of great advice over the past week!

  10. Anissa says:

    This is a great list. Also scary. Lots to think about during the seemingly neverending revision process.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  11. catwoods says:

    Great summary. I would only add an implausible resolution. This would include coincidence, dream sequences or having someone else come up with the solution. While these things might happen in real life, readers want their MC to overcome things because of the choices they make. Not just blunder through to find the pot of gold!

    However, knowing and doing are two different things. I shall take the check list to my manuscript and see what I find : )

  12. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks for stopping in and the comment, Catwoods!

    I definitely agree that a poor resolution is a must avoid issue. I hate books that have kept me involved for 300+ pages only to lose me in the last chapter. However, I see enough of them, I wonder if they're as much of a turn-off for editors/agents as you might think? (I'm saying that they may not be a deal breaker for representation. NOT that the pros don't try to fix such things.) I wonder if the editors/agents don't conclude that "the author has kept me engaged for this long, so I'll see if I can fix the ending." Sometimes they probably do. From my experience as a reader, there are times they haven't. LOL Pobody's nerfect. ;D

    All that said, I'll take a strong ending that makes me relive the story a thousand times over a happy ending that leaves all shoe strings tied, if you know what I mean?

  13. Christina Farley says:

    What a list. A good one too. These are all reasons to keep in my head as I write. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Christina!

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