Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XXI: but wait, there’s more!

Are you surprised to see another post on first-page rejection reasons coming after I’ve already gone over the Idol list of red flags? What can I possibly still have to say on the subject, after nearly three weeks of harping upon it? Plenty, as it turns out. As excellent and extensive as the agent-generated list …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XX: and now for the good part — oh, and RIP, Mr. Updike

A moment of silence, please: John Updike is dead. Since nothing elevates the short-term literary stature of an established author as much as his death, I’m sure that there will be no shortage of superlatives being bruited about out there for Mr. Updike, so I shall not attempt to add to them here, nor shall …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XIX: genius is no excuse for lack of polish, or, quoth the raven, “Next!”

Happy Year of the Ox, everyone! We’re almost at the end of our very, very long examination of reasons agents tend to reject a submission on page 1, Can’t you feel the air buzzing with excitement? Haven’t you noticed the bees murmuring in their hives, the birds stopping in mid-air to gape, and every little …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XVIII: sins of excess, purplish prose, and the effect of all of that caffeine on Millicent’s reading sensibilities

Does that large-scale collective whimpering I’ve been hearing over the last week, a sort of humanoid version of a slightly rusted machine cranking gears in stasis back into unaccustomed action, mean that many of you have leapt back into action and are laboring feverishly to send out queries and pop those long-requested materials into the …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XVII: portraying a life less ordinary, or, would it kill you to give your protagonist a quirkier life?

I think going over our list of reasons agents give for rejecting submissions on page 1 one by one is being very fruitful, but heavens, there are a LOT of them, aren’t there? I’m moving through them as swiftly as I can, but still, it feels a bit like wading through mud. Not to nag, …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XV: but it really happened that way!

I went to see THE PEARLFISHERS at the Seattle Opera again last night; since the tenor had been practically inaudible with the cast we saw the first time, we went back and saw the other, in which the baritone was practically inaudible. Oh, well, you can’t have everything — where would you put it? (As …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XV: a few more words about repetition…repetition… repetition…

If you’ll permit me, I’m going to take a brief hiatus from running though our agent-generated list of reasons that submissions tend to get rejected on page 1 to discourse learnedly upon a related subject. Actually, I’m going to go ahead and so it even if you won’t grant me permission, because this is important; …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XIV: Dear John, you might want to think about streamlining your dialogue — and checking to see if the fine folks to whom you’re submitting have posted guidelines for your benefit

“It is my custom to keep on talking until I get the audience cowed.” — Mark Twain I seldom post calls for submissions to publications, particularly online ones — there are so very many of them, after all, and as one of the primary joys of agent in life is that somebody else markets one’s …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part XIII: in praise of individuality, or, a few thoughts on character-revealing dialogue

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, everybody! I know it’s common to reduce all of the Reverend Dr.’s accomplishments to the March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech (leaving out, say, the fact that he held the world’s record as most prolific registrar of voters for at least two decades), but if …

Seeing submissions from the other side of the desk, part X: Millicent’s frequent sense of déjà vu, or, the benefits of venturing off the beaten path

Revisiting my posts from a couple of years ago on reasons agents give for rejecting submissions on page 1, I notice that I have been feeling compelled to add quite a bit of commentary, so much so that they are essentially new posts (which is why I’ve stopped doing the boldfaced introductions, in case anyone …