Here are a few things I would like writers to consider before attempting an R&R request by an agent or an editor: (What's an R&R? A revise and resubmit request- where the editor and/or agent requests you make changes to your manuscript, and opens the door for you to submit again)
Q1: What are they REALLY asking for?
A lot of times they will give a broad, vague note, on the feel of a book, without getting specific.
"It needs more tension," is a note I see A LOT.
Are they asking for the characters to be more tense? Like, wth does that even mean?
"Add more tension" is not helpful, if you ask me, b/c tension in each mss would look & feel differently.
Like, more tension b/w characters is a different editorial pass than more tension in the plot.
Are they asking for more char conflict? Or for a quicker pace / higher stakes?
Don't be afraid to push back and ask questions.
If the note is too vague, then try and pin down what they're REALLY asking for. It can be tricky to get an agent or editor to spend the extra intellectual intelligence to explain deeper...
...but if you up the character tension & that's not what they wanted? You've just wasted everybody's time.
- What if they don't GET specific?
They've given a vague note, you've asked, it's still vague...?
Do both. Give the characters more conflict, AND up the stakes
Better to over-deliver than under. Or, ASK AGAIN until you get an answer.
Agents and editors CAN and sometimes DO give vague notes and then offer an R&R and then don't answer questions, or won't get specific, and then they wonder why writers don't do them...
Q2: Are they inserting themselves into your manuscript?
- I see this w/ agents A LOT. Not so much with editors.
"I loved this manuscript except [KEY CONCEPTUAL COMPONENT]. Would you be willing to change that?"
Like, that's the whole concept?
As an example, let's pick KILLER MERMAIDS.
Let's say your concept is killer mermaids and the agent and/or editor is asking you to change the mermaids so they're not killers.
It undoes basically EVERYTHING you've written.
Ex. I queried a book in 2012 where a sex slave escapes. One agent couldn't stomach the sexual abuse history (understandable) and asked that I change it to "just a regular slave." Uh, no.
First of all, I'm white - so no, I'm not going to insert myself into that narrative.
Secondly, the whole concept of my book was about overcoming a sexual abuse history. Like, it would undo the ENTIRE STORY. So, no.
I turned down that R&R.
So, if it's a conceptual change, I say you should offer the agent or editor YOUR NEXT MANUSCRIPT.
Don't rewrite your whole mss on the personal feelings of one agent.
Now, if your manuscript is problematic & an agent and/or editor have called you on it, it's entirely possible you've written a problematic book.
If so, the answer to Q2 is the same:
Let's say you've gotten answers to vague notes, you're not allowing the agent/editor to insert themselves into your concept (although plot changes are acceptable), but you don't agree w/ what they're asking you to do...
Q3: Are you saying no b/c you just don't want to?
- This is your 4th draft. Your CPs are sick of looking at it and don't want to read it again. You've polished this manuscript until it shines, and it's a shit ton of work to rewrite it just on the MAYBE of an agent or editor...
Writing is rewriting.
It's a cliche but it's 1000% true.
I wish all novelists had the experience of working on scripts in TV. Rewriting is basically all a TV writer does.
The DAY OF PRODUCTION you find out that one actor is sick, the location they secured got rained in, and now you need to rewrite the entire scene you've rewritten 10 times already, without one of the key characters and in a whole new location - oh, and do it in a half hour.
Like, rewriting a script takes way fewer words, but it's an awesome lesson in NOT MARRYING YOUR WORK.
There are novelists who love to revise, and there are those who don't, and the ones who don't are shooting their careers in the foot.
You HAVE to be willing to revise.
Are you saying no to the R&R b/c the notes are vague and unhelpful, and the agent/editor is inserting themselves into your work...or are you just sick and tired of rewriting the same manuscript - AGAIN?
If it's b/c of the last reason?
Find a different line of work.
This went on a lot longer than I intended.
And I'm sure I missed a whole lost of nuances and other aspects of this subject, b/c this is freaking Twitter and it's a flawed medium.
So no, I don't really wanna argue semantics with you, and I'm sure there are a ton of exceptions.
But unlike a manuscript, I can't edit this.
If I could, and your notes on this thread were specific, valid, and meant to improve upon it...
Damn straight I would.
And of course now that I've posted it I can see all the typos
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