Friday, May 15, 2009

What Agents Hate to See in the Slush Pile

I found this interesting article on the Guide to Literary Agents blog, an excellent writing resource, and one of the few blogs that I subscribe to. The topic was Agents and the Slushpile: Ten Reasons they Stop Reading, and I thought I'd share it with you.

Here are the top 10:

10. Overdone description that doesn’t move the story forward
9. Spoon-feeding the reader what the character is thinking
8. Having the characters address each other repeatedly by name, as in, “John, let’s go!”
7. Introducing a character with first and last name, as in, “John Smith entered the room.”
6. Beginning a story with dialogue
5. Opening with a clich├ę
4. Yanking the reader out of the action with backstory
3. Not giving the reader a sense of place or where the story is going
2. Characters are MIA until bottom of page 2
1. Telling instead of showing

Lots of these are items we've discussed in our Ten -Point Revision Strategy. Lots of great points we need to keep our eyes on.


LazyKing said...

great list, very helpful. Many of us make these mistakes

Orkun Balkanc─▒ said...

Very close to the list Stephen King advices in his book "On Writing".

Good blog, congratulations.

Angel Bluestocking said...

Hi Todd

Great advice!
I'm still plugging away. Tango Man has just gone off for professional critiquing and up to 45,000 words of second novel.

This 'agent business' is where the hard work really begins...Give me a 100,000 words to write, any day.

best wishes

Dawn Colclasure said...

Very interesting. And very helpful, too! Appreciate the link.

Laura said...

Though I am not attempting to write a novel (a memoir instead), I am having trouble with an opening. Do you think it is always unacceptable to begin with a name? The name in mine is somewhat significant. It may not be the first line, but it would be the focus of my beginning.
Example of possible beginning: "Contrary to my birth family's belief, my name is not Seon Kyung."
Would love feedback...