Just recently I did a workshop where I had the participants partner with another person in the class and exchange the first 30 pages of their manuscripts. The assignment I gave them was to read the 30 pages all the way through once. After that was completed, to go back and start rereading. On the second read, I asked them to go page by page and outline the plot points in a neat list list by chapter. I stressed that they were not summarizing the chapter. Simply listing the action found in it. Then I had them email me the outlines before I started reading.
Those were the instructions and everyone in the class tackled the exercise just fine so I’m confident all of you can do the same.
I’d take a quick glance at the by-chapter outline and as an agent, I’d know what was wrong with the manuscript before I even hit the first page and started reading. I would then read the document to confirm what I already knew. One hundred percent of the time I was right. I’d say 90% of what we see on submission has these issues so it’s definitely worth taking forty minutes to do this exercise with a writing partner that you trust.
Because the two main culprits that will nix you getting a full manuscript request are these:
1) The work is missing a plot catalyst to really start the story (so there is a lot going on action-wise but no actual story unfolding).
2) There is nothing at stake for the main character.
Happy revising!Tags: critique