do and don't

“That doesn’t do my novel justice”

Some writers don’t like what agencies ask for in a query. “Twenty pages won’t do my novel justice,” or, “My plot is too intense to break down into a synopsis,” are justifications for:

  • more pages than we ask for (most agencies only ask 10-50),
  • a blow-by-blow of the book instead of a synopsis, or
  • no synopsis.

We only ask for a few pages because your book should hook me within that time. Agencies want a 1-page synopsis because we want a rough idea where this story is heading.

If your novel is “better” than our guidelines, this tells me immediately the book has flaws and probably isn’t ready for a request.

In particular, an inability to distill your plot down to a synopsis means the plot is either too complex or nonexistent. Sometimes unnecessary elements obfuscate the plot. Some plots have too many holes to stand up to scrutiny. In others, action occurs but there’s no complete story arc. These mistakes are common errors in the beginning of a writer’s career.

Go to workshops and learn from other writers. Edit and kill your darlings. And follow guidelines.


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