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When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 17th, 2011, 10:32 am
by airball
Hi All,

So I've only been querying agents for my historical mystery for a couple of weeks now and so far, so good. Twelve queries, three requests for partials, two fulls, one form rejection.

I just received a very brief rejection on one of my fulls. :(

The explanation was that while the agent liked the history and characters, the plot was "a bit too predictable."

I thought and thought, and thought she might be right. By the time I reveal the culprits, there really isn't anyone left it COULD be - an alert reader could figure it out by simple process of elimination. (Of course my protagonist doesn't know that, but I'm not writing for her.)

So I'm thinking I need to do a bit more with the plot, and toss a few more red herrings into the mix. It wouldn't take that long - two or three additional chapters, and a few tweaks.

But is it a bit weird to revise based on a half-comment from an agent who turned down the book? Would I be better off to wait for an agent to give me more detailed feedback, perhaps even a revise and resubmit, and rewrite for her?

Thanks,

Airball

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 17th, 2011, 11:03 am
by Watcher55
Just a thought - more of a rhetorical question actually, but have you considered doing LESS with the plot? Sometimes a shadow of doubt does more than a wall of granite.

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 17th, 2011, 11:05 am
by Collectonian
Normally, I would wait until you hear from all of the ones you have out first to see if it is consistent. However, if you agree with it, I'd say go ahead and get to work. Just keep a separate copy of the one you have out in submission now so you know which version the responses are responding to. :-)

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 17th, 2011, 7:59 pm
by oldhousejunkie
Good to hear that you are getting such a great response!

If you're up to the challenge, go ahead and write what you want. But I would save it until you get feedback from the agents that requested additional materials from you. It is just one agent.

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 18th, 2011, 2:33 pm
by sierramcconnell
Times like these you have to follow what you think is right.

I find books that most other people think are amazingly intelligent as "plot too predictable" but I read them anyway. Hell, I reread them because the characters and story were so entertaining. If someone is smart enough, they'll figure anything out.

(American Gods, I'm looking at you, yes, you were tooo tooooo tooo predictable. We all knew he was up to something. Gees. But it was a fun ride. It's fun this time, too.)

So you have to do what you think you should do. And if that means rewriting it, and setting aside that just-in-case rewritten copy to throw back in her face, then do it. But if you think you have a solid story and it'll be fine on its own, then leave it be. What does your /heart/ say? Were those doubts about your MS there all along and did this finally yank it out?

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 18th, 2011, 3:00 pm
by Down the well
airball wrote:But is it a bit weird to revise based on a half-comment from an agent who turned down the book?
I did do a revision based on one agent's remarks, but it was because I thought she was right about a couple of things. And I knew how I could implement the changes. If you think there's a way to improve the plot, and you have a plan, then you might want to set the old version aside and try making the changes. But I don't jump every time I get feedback. Sometimes it really is just a matter of subjective taste. I guess it's one of those instinct things. You gotta go with your gut.

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 18th, 2011, 4:36 pm
by Falls Apart
I'd recommend reading And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. Excellent, excellent plot twists, and if you guess the ending of either in its entirety, I'd be quite impressed. The signs and foreshadowing are all there, but both are crafted in original and unpredictable ways.

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 18th, 2011, 5:36 pm
by Louise Curtis
Us writers are often sensitive creatures, and we often say really stupid things to people who've been in the business a lot longer than we have (check this out). This has taught far too many agents and publishers that they can get punished for telling the truth to an author about his/her precious book.

So any time a professional dares to say why they rejected my work, I am extremely grateful, and their opinion weighs extremely heavily (they're right around 90% of the time). Don't waste time sending it elsewhere until you've fixed the plot problem (I made that mistake once, and it cost me publication).

Also, sidebar, don't reply to the comments (not even to say thank you). It's all just more for the agent/publisher to read, which is the last thing they need.

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 18th, 2011, 5:53 pm
by airball
sierramcconnell wrote:Times like these you have to follow what you think is right.

Were those doubts about your MS there all along and did this finally yank it out?
See, I think this is it. There is a key moment when our protagonist figured out who didn't do it. In one fell-swoop the red herrings were gone, leaving only fish in the barrel for shooting. (If I may mix my metaphors.) It happened all at once, and (worse!) it happened only 2/3 of the way into the book. I didn't like it but I didn't see another way to handle it. (And it would mean a lot of writing to change, and nobody wants to rewrite.)

But I don't need to get rid of the red herrings, do I? The point of the mystery is not who isn't guilty. I just need my protagonist to find the real killer.

So for the rewrite I'm introducing the red herrings much earlier and not getting rid of them at all. Then I'll read, and see what I think... If it's worse, I cut it. If it's better, I keep it.

Re: When do you revise your MS?

Posted: May 18th, 2011, 7:58 pm
by sierramcconnell
Awesome! Glad you found the solution! I hope the rewrite works out much better for you! :3