The Writer’s Bag of Tricks

The Why of Rejection and Why You NEED a Critique Group

For the last several weeks I’ve been meeting deadlines, editing, and reading through the submission inbox at Literary Wanderlust. Several of the pitches I received were decent. A few pitches were good. One or two pitches were really good. Regardless of the pitch quality I still read through each submission, including the synopsis and chapters. Generally, a fraction of all the novels submitted receive a request to submit a full manuscript, and a fraction of all those manuscripts will be contracted for publication. It is just how things go. But it equates to sending out a lot of rejection letters.

I hate sending out rejection letters.

I hate sending out rejection letters as much as authors hate receiving rejection letters. I wish that every submission were stellar and contract worthy. I truly want every writer to be successful. I believe it is possible. Call me crazy.

Here’s the thing. Most of the submissions I end up rejecting have good story ideas. The problem, usually, is in the execution of the manuscript pages.

Here’s why.

Writing is a solo activity. The writer is inspired with a story idea and then spends many hours alone writing the story from beginning to end. They know every aspect of the story intimately. They can see every detail clearly in their mind.

But unfortunately, this inner clarity does not necessarily equate to clarity on the page.

It does mean the manuscript is not ready for publication, though. And dangit, but I have to reject it.

Because the writer knows their story so thoroughly in their mind, they can’t see what they left out. They can’t see the plot holes in the synopsis. They can’t see that they have used the same sentence structure every other paragraph. They can’t see that they have used “felt” 376 times in 250 pages, or that they haven’t shown any actual action in detail, but have only told events in summary.

When we know something so very well, we sometimes can’t see that we are not communicating well to our audience. Think of the brilliant scientist who can’t explain how to tie a shoe. There is a solution, however, though it requires a commitment on your part.

Next week I will talk about beta readers and critique groups, and why you should be in one.










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