Friday, 22 October 2010
Doing it by the Book
I’m a nice girl, me. Good as gold. I do my submitting by the book.
What book, I hear you asking?
A clue: The Great Agent In The Sky begat it.
And Lo! It was carried down from On High in tablets (Prozac, probably) by His disciples and delivered unto us aspirant writers.
The title? The Ten Commandments of Submitting.
And here they are:
1. Thou shalt Finish thy novel before thou Cast thy Read upon the ether or into the realms of the Holy Post.
2. Thou shalt use No Other Font but Times New Roman, nor any space but Double.
3. Honour thy Margins, that the agent may Set His Mark upon them.
4. Every Page Shall Be Numbered and Every Synopsis Shall Be Exalted.
5. Covet not thine adjectives and adverbs, for they make agents Sore Afraid.
6. Thou shalt abjure all prologues and present tense narratives, for they will be Ignored.
7. And thou shouldst never Tell, but Show.
8. Never shalt thou call an agent by the name of Christian, or sign with a loving Kiss.
9. Thou shalt send no Chocolates, Ribbons or Knickers with thy submission.
10. And never shalt thou Pester, Push or Rush an agent, on pain of Rejection. For Ever and Ever.
As far as the Tenth Commandment is concerned, I just had a very interesting e-conversation with a Real, Live Agent who advised me to contact the agent who has my full manuscript and chase him up. After just three weeks.
I was astonished. The Tenth Commandment had always been set in stone, seemingly. You never, EVER push an agent, at least for the first three months. That’s scary, I said. Chase him up, he repeated. It’s a much more go-getting environment, these days. And (ref. First Commandment) he’s used to people hustling him with novels they haven’t yet written.
Which leads me to wonder how many of those Commandments (and all the others that float around in the writerly ether) actually hold true? Of course there are sensible guidelines which would probably best be followed if we want our work to be looked at and seriously considered. Of course we should make our work as accessible and easy-to-read as we can.
Perhaps I’m just railing against the feeling that I’m being preached at sometimes, and that the Rules are set in stone. Which goes against the natural fluidity of the writer’s craft. What do you think?
Oh, and should I send pink or black knickers?