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How to "Draw In" an Agent

Question of the day: Agents have said they love my concept but they aren't "drawn in."  I wrote it in the third person. Do you think that changing it to first person POV will help?

Without having read the manuscript in question, I can offer an assured...maybe. :)

Is that not helpful?

Okay, I'll elaborate. On one hand, yes, I think that there is no doubt that first person POV draws readers in more quickly and is often (not always) easier for the reader to relate to. So if this is truly your only hiccup, then yes, I'd say rewrite it. On the other hand, "not drawn in" may be agent speak for "I'm just not that into you." Agents are people too, and they don't want to have to be the bad guy and say, "Gee, I really just don't like this," so "not drawn in," may effectively be their way of saying they're not interested on taking you on date #2.

Again, I haven't read the manuscript, so I can't say. If you really think this is an amazing concept, and your rejections are simply a matter of execution - and you're willing to invest the time in more or less entirely rewriting the manuscript - then I say go for it. The only thing I will say as cautionary advice is that sometimes, writers have a hard time seeing the forest through the trees. In other words, perhaps this manuscript was a tool for you to figure out how to become a better writer and not the one you ultimately sell. I have one of those tucked away in the figurative back of my drawer, and let me tell you, I am soooooo grateful that it never got published. At the time, I didn't see it that way. But now that I've honed my skills, I can and I do. Not every book you write is necessarily going to be a good one, and this is more often true of first books. So if you can, try to assess the manuscript honestly and objectively, and if you can't do that right now, perhaps step away from it for a few months and return to it with fresh eyes. If you still think it's as good as you do now, then invest the time in reworking it. The other option is to have someone else read it, someone whose opinion you trust, and be okay with his/her honest feedback. Our critique partners often see the flaws that we cannot.

So...a murky answer to your question. The bottom line is that rewriting it will certainly prove valuable for you as a writer - it will give you the chance to continue to stretch yourself and flex your writing muscles, but just be sure that you'd still be okay in the end if the manuscript doesn't sell. Even after all of your work. 

What say you readers? Would you recommend that she rewrite the ms? Or do you think she'd be better off focusing her energy elsewhere? Has anyone ever rewritten a ms with a different POV and had success?

Reader Comments (5)

Interesting point

I wrote 40 pages of what was going to be a romance/drama from the point of view of a man

I got on the phone with a scriptwriter who writes for film and he suggested I turned it into a romantic comedy from the point of view of the girl.

Now what is really going to work?

I'm quite willing to start again as I was only 40 pages in, yet does romantic comedy cross over very well in books vs the movies? I somehow think that comedy is easier to pull off in a movie than a book as people don't know need to say anything in order to get a laugh out of what they are seeing, books can leave the funny moment flat.

Decisions, decisions.

By the way just got turned on to your work

Congrats on all your success

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I say focus energies elsewhere, unless she feels strongly that the book is the best it can be. I've got the "book in the drawer," too, and at the time thought it was a little slice of heaven. When I read it now, I cringe. It WAS a huge learning tool, and I was happy to put my creativity into a new project.

And I have to disagree with the statement that readers are often more quickly drawn into first-person stories. I feel the opposite, simply because executing first person WELL seems to be quite tricky (it seems way too easy for authors to fall into the "I did this," I felt that," "I saw this" vernacular). If I pick up a first-person book and don't feel it's executed well within the first three pages, I'm done with it. For that reason, I actually gravitate toward third person books. But then again,I'm only one reader among many. And we all have our preferences.

November 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Crytzer Fry

New to this blog. This is a great question as I think most writers at some point will get a similar response with no idea how to react to it. It's the old "It's not you, it's me," and trying to revise to that feedback is a crap shoot. It's an incredibly subjective business. The reason one person isn't feeling it could be totally different from the reason another person isn't feeling it.

In the end it's the writer who needs to be happy. Just as an agent has to be "in love" to sell a story, a writer has to be "in love" to write it well. Elmore Leonard has said he sometimes writes his scenes from 2 or 3 points of view before he settles on which one to go with. Maybe try the opening scene in first person and see if you fall in love.

Good luck!

November 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVirginia Pooler

It's me! The actual person who posed the question. Guess what I'm working on today? That manuscript. I can't let it go, and I believe that is a sign. Yes, it's a sign I'm a control freak. But I feel so strongly about the concept and this character that I think with a ton of edits it can be something fun, lovely, maybe even a little bit awesome. Thank you for your response!

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Costa

Me again...

Re-write in a different POV? It changes so much about the story and the narrator and the style and the character interaction. Is it even the same work anymore?

I believe in editing, believe me, and I have cut characters, scenes and chapters too, but POV sounds like a lot of work...

And from what I read, it's still a long shot, anyway. The agent didn't say it would be a winner, just try re-writing it to see if it might work better. Risky...

December 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteral cool
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