Pub Rants

Please, not THAT with my morning Starbucks

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I’ve been reading a lot of sample pages lately—trying to get caught up and also because I’m actively looking for something new.

Lately I’ve had to avoid eating breakfast or lunch while reviewing sample pages.

Please, I beg you. No more people peeing, defecating, or otherwise involved with a bodily function in the opening chapter.


Besides, it’s ruining my morning Danish.

33 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    Oops, not me. Not that anyone actually does that in the first chapter, but someone does die in the bathroom with his head shoved in the toilet….

    Sorry…. Didn’t mean to spoil your appetite.

  2. Eileen said:

    This is a problem? Who knew. The advice books do suggest that you open with conflict. I just never considered the protagonist versus their bowels as an option. Try the Starbucks pumpkin scone- far superior to the danish.

  3. December Quinn said:

    Goodness, I do hope these are sci fi ms you’re reading. I don’t generally like poo in my romances.

    Or perhaps we’ve stumbled on the real reason why “chick lit is dead”. 😉

  4. Stuart said:

    I’m not trying to be a nitwit or anything, but Miss Nelson, in the past your site mentioned you were not considering fantasy without a chick-lit slant. Has this changed? I don’t want to submit a query to you and further clutter your slush pile if you’re not inerested in epic fantasy.

    Thanks for doing this blog! Even if I don’t write the type of fantasy you want to represent, your blog is very informative.

  5. Kirsten said:

    Well, this breaks my losing streak!!! I may have compared my novel to a best-selling author and crowed that it was chick lit the day before learning the genre’s in the tank, but by golly, no mention of excrement in my ms until page 24. Hooray!

  6. Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said:

    My name’s Jake. I’m a private eye. I was enjoying my morning Starbucks and keeping an eye on the gorgeous blond at the next table. It’s ok. We’re married.

    I grabbed her hand. She smiled. Her smile quickly vanished. The screams from the bathroom erased both our smiles

    “Oh God, O God o goddddd” we heard.

    The voice grew weaker. I threw my muscular body against the door. Once was enough. I dislocated my shoulder, and the door didn’t budge.

    “What’s wrong!” I yelled. “Unlock the door.”

    Then to my wife: “Get the manager’s key! Quick.”

    A weak sigh came from the restroom. “Where’s the toilet paper. Help! I need toilet paper!”

    So, Kristin, you’re saying this wont work? Dang! I’m so disappointed.

  7. Gabriele C. said:

    I don’t have body functions, but I have a battlefield. After battle. Complete with some intestines and chopped off body parts.

    Shall I send the second chapter instead? *grin*

  8. Delan said:

    My books are 100% defecation free. Come to think of it, there’s no urination or menstruation, either. Two of the romance novels I’ve read in the last week or so had unusually detailed descriptions of what all went on while the heroine was menstruating. Pretty gross stuff, and not something you’d want to read while eating.

  9. David Baker said:

    Oops. “Pee” is the eighth word in chapter one of my latest novel. But it doesn’t actually start flowing until word 47. Does it help my case any that it’s a five-year-old girl? They’re forever “making winkie” as my daughters used to say. There’s no #2 in the manuscript until page 14. Perhaps this is why I haven’t published a book since the early 15th century. Ms. Nelson, I’m indebted to your sagacity.

  10. The Beautiful Schoolmarm said:

    *Checks manuscript* Nope, no piddling. I even hold off on the violence and blood until chapter 3. I am ashamed to admit that I have a fantasy story that opens in the woods (no herbs in sight, however).

  11. Anonymous said:

    Okay, that suggestion goes on my list of things not to do to editors. (I lecture at writing workshops now and then.)

    I usually tell the neos to “Write your opening in such a way as to distract the editor from a subway full of potential muggers.” (That’s how I sold my first.)

    Now I’ll add “Make sure it doesn’t spoil the editor’s morning Danish at Starbucks, either.”

    Too bad Janine Cross never heard that one, she might have spared us from reading about “venom cocks.”

    From a brilliant, if nauseated, reviewer:

    I’m not Crevette, but admire her greatly.

  12. Radicalfeministpoet said:

    By any chance, are the names of the characters not gathering herbs in the woods Khâfqt’fxönc’h and Zdrfûnqhwàtlt?

  13. Anonymous said:

    I have read over 150 novels, some serious, some comedy, and have never come across a deficating scene. Much less one that was well written. Is there such a thing? I had no clue excriment was such a problem :o)

  14. Faith said:

    I edit romance submissions for Wild Child Magazine and I’m so sick of sappy stories I could scream. Doesn’t anyone know how to write a great romance anymore? Oh, wait, I do that! ROFL!

  15. Lisa Pulliam said:

    Thank you for doing this blog, it’s refreshing to get a dose of honesty rather than watered-down advice.

    I have a question for you, and any one else posting here that has some input. How do you feel about first person romance? Many of the paranormals I read are in first person, but it seems that many publishers require third. I lean toward reading and writing first because you get to know the heroine so much better, but the downfall is you get to know the hero less. What advice do you have regarding POV? Thank you and keep up the fantastic blogging!

  16. Anonymous said:

    I judged an entry in a contest where the first line was:

    “Whose pu$$y hair is this on the kitchen counter?”

    Lovely way to start a book. (NOT!)

  17. Delan said:

    Let me guess, Anon. You’re judging the Golden Heart?

    Well, maybe not. 🙂 Maybe one of the Passionate Ink contests, then.

  18. Anna FDD said:


    Back when I was reading manuscripts (I have had since to move to a Real Job, alas) I ended up compiling a list of sterling rules for being binned immediately. The Bathroom Scene Opening (or the more general Gratuitous Exibition of Bodily Fluids Opening) was up there alongside the Plot Detailing the Boring Life of a ThirtySomething And His Friends and The Menace of Cybersex.