Tuesday, May 4, 2010

There be dragons (unfortunately for your manuscript)

Here's a post from the Swivet, a blog by literary agent Colleen Lindsay. It's written by Roseanne Wells (who's acquiring).

Good advice abounds:

My friend Jane* has a tendency to tell really boring stories. She inflicts you-had-to-be-there stories, I-find-this-to-be-funny-but-you-might-not stories, and this-is-interesting-but-not-well-told stories on us all the time.

In college Jane started noticing that when she was telling a story, people started picking their nails, looking past her for the nearest exit, or falling asleep on the spot. Even when she could feel that the story was dying a soporific, painful death, Jane couldn't stop herself -- she felt she had to finish it to the end. She so desperately wanted her stories to work that she grasped for something that could save them, any lifesaver that could bring them home. Jane peaked when she was telling a story and, just as my eyelids began to flutter, she blurted out: "And then there was a dragon!"

Don't do this in your manuscript.

As appealing as this may sound -- and as hilarious it is to picture a dragon in line with your character at the grocery store -- don't do it. Adding a dragon or a long-lost brother or slutty secretary or a conveniently placed key under the doormat to the castle is not the fix for a broken story.

Read the rest. (LINK NOW FIXED.)


NĂºria Coe said...

... the link to "read the rest" leads to a "page not found". Am I doing something wrong?

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Nuria, thanks for letting me know. I fixed the link.