The act of reading a book is a very personal thing.
The story may be set in stone— or in this case printed ink— but the reader’s imagination plays a part in bringing the story to life.
To call yourself a writer, you can’t just invent some names, write some actions down and call it a story. You have to create characters and a world that readers can connect to.
You need to make them care.
This isn’t easy.
Two common problems agents and editors most likely run into when they’re reviewing queries or cover letters is either:
A. The query is written in a way that fails to showcase the manuscript correctly and does not entice the agent/editor to request for more.
In short, the story is pitched in a way that makes it forgettable, unoriginal or just plain boring.
B. The query is effective! The agent/editor is excited and wants to read more but, the story was oversold, deviates too far from the pitch, or the story is buried so far beneath fluff, grammar errors and unnecessary words that it’s clear the story isn’t ready yet.
In short, it’s a disappointment. Harsh words, we know, but it doesn’t mean the story is bad and you should just give up.
On the contrary, it means that you’re on the right track; you just need to spruce up your work a bit more and give it a few tweaks here and there.
Writing an attractive query is difficult and there is truly no right or wrong way to do it, as every editor and agent is different. But, there is a standard format you should follow.
Now, making sure that you’re sending the best possible version of your manuscript out is an entirely different story, literally.
Every story is different and needs to be told in a way that is right for that story.
Sounds simple enough. How can it possibly be wrong then?
Well, character development and plot development tend to be the areas that can kill a great idea.
Now, before you panic, just know that these two large umbrella’s can be broken down to various other segments such as pacing, plot holes, lack of character motivation, grammatical errors and so on.
So, it’s possible that your story only needs to be strengthened in a few areas.
Your plot may be interesting and well-developed, for example, but your characters may be too flat. For lack of a better term, your characters lack (no pun intended) character.
Your characters could also be so well-fleshed out that your readers feel like they live right next door to them, but your story could be full of plot holes and leave your readers with a lot of unanswered questions.
So, how do you fix this?
Well, before you find someone to edit your story for grammar, get a reading buddy.
Someone that you trust, whether it’s a family member, a friend, significant other, or another writer. As your beta reader, their job is to tell you what they (honestly) think works or doesn’t work in terms of storyline. Were they entertained? Did they lose interest a few chapters in? Do they believe what’s happening?
Having someone review your story not for grammar but for story development is the most helpful tool a writer can have.
Grammar can be fixed, but there is no cure for a bad story.
Well, except rewrites, but that’s another story for another time.
So, did you enjoy our thoughts on the subject? Was it helpful? What topic would you like us to address next? Let us know in the comments below!