Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When It's All Your MC's Fault

So two out of three requests for my full ms have resulted in rejection.  And thankfully, for once- both agents sighted a very distinct reason for their pass.

My Main Character, Sadie Brooks.
So I decided she and I had to sit down and have a little talk.

Me:  What. did. you. do?

Sadie: *stares, eyes wide*  You seriously think this all my fault? You wrote me the way I am, for crying out loud!

Me:  Did not!  I was going for a pretty, out-going, pragmatic girl with a firm grasp on the reality around her, and a self-deprecating sense of humor that made her come off borderline goofy at times.  What happened?  This agent thinks you’re too blatantly self-serving and unlikeable! 

Sadie:  Tell them to screw off.

Me:  *Slams down rejection letter*  You see!?  This is what I’m talking about!  You’re going to have to suffer a major personality over-haul.  And this agent  *holds up second letter*  says you aren’t unique enough for her taste.

Sadie: Hmn…maybe you should make my hair purple?  Or I could be bald! *smiles wide and bats her eyelashes*

Me:  I’m not going to make your hair purple.  Or bald.  I don’t think that’s what they mean. 

Sadie:  You could make me clumsy.  I could keep walking into things or get paper cuts that attract vampires.

Me: Would you just shut up!?  Maybe I should make you mute.  That would be unique.

Sadie:   You could.  But your plot would go to hell…Hey! You could give me a wooden leg!?  I could even name it! 

Me:  Very funny.  Then I’d have to explain why a teenager would be given a wooden leg instead of prosthetic one.  Makes no sense.

Sadie:  *sighs*  I’m bored.  And hungry.  You got any hotdogs?

Me:  No.  And you don’t like hotdogs any more.  You’re going to have to like something weird and eat a lot of it.  It will make you more unique…and you’re going to have to start being nicer to your peers.

Sadie:  Hey, I’m nice!

Me:  Stop calling them names.

Sadie:  I don’t!

Me:  What about Paul Boyardee?

Sadie: He’s named after a spaghetti sauce, for crying out loud!

Me:  *burries head in hands*  We’ve got work to do.  Prepare to be de-bitchified and unique-afied.

Sadie:  Those aren’t even words.  What the hell kind of writer are you?

42 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Love your conversation with Sadie. Perhaps she does need to be mute, she sounds like a real wisy guy.

Not for nothing, but at least you got two agents to agree on basically the same thing when they rejected you. All mine were all over the board so I couldn't even figure out what to change.

Laura Pauling said...

That's wonderful you got specific feedback! Now you know what to work on before submitting. Unless you think other agents might not think that way. It can be subjective.

shelly said...

But hey, they read it and gave you some valuable advise. I had to change my main character in my finished WIP. Three more chapters to rewrite. Mine was too passive. Too much a victim.

Jamie Grey said...

Aww... Sadie sounds like a lot of fun to me (in that pain in the ass sort of way ;-) )

But yay for agent feedback, as much as it sucks! It seems like they only give comments to books that are *this* close!

Good luck with your rewrite - hopefully Sadie starts cooperating!

Slamdunk said...

Clever approach with this post CQG.

I am glad that you received some useful feedback and I look forward to meeting the new Sadie.

Matthew MacNish said...

She an interesting character as far as I can tell, but I do have to say: I think if you made her bald that would be pretty cool. She could be like a punk-rock riot-girl.

mshatch said...

you could make her Sinead 'Connor bald.

sorry she got 'rejected' but hopefully those reasons why will help you shape Sadie into someone more likeable - altho I personally find her enjoyably snarky :)

DL Hammons said...

Self-serving isn't unique enough? :)

Any advice besides the kind I've been hearing (don't let the door hit you on the way out) has got to be gratifying. At least they're taking the time to provide some direction!

Carolyn V said...

Aw! I'm happy and sad all at the same time. Sad because of the rejections, but happy because your character rocks. I hope you get good news soon (and I agree to the no on bald.)

Lori M. Lee said...

ahah, aww, I think your MC sounds quite entertaining :) Best of luck with revisions!

Bethany Mattingly said...

Judging by this, I'm a fan of her spunky personality. Good luck with any changes you decide to make.

Red Boot Pearl said...

love it :)

Gina said...

You know, it's funny... I thought Sadie was flawed but likable. I never thought she'd be read as anything but. Which makes me nervous about how people will view my Rebecca, because she starts out all sorts of obnoxious. Not that it matters, because I keep getting "Interesting, but..." "Sweet, but..." on my queries.

Good Luck, Katie. May the subjectivity force be with you on that last full!!! I'm pulling for you!

Hart Johnson said...

Awwww.... poor Sadie, in need of a personality transplant... Maybe though, it could be handled by either adding a layer of WHY she's not very nice (is she afraid of coming off too soft because of something that happened? Or maybe she is trying to equalize things a bit... not nice to the uppity, but very sweet to the picked on). I think a little mean can be interesting if you understand it--especially if they grow out of it over the book.

Dean Crawford said...

The fact that three agents asked for the full mss at all should tell you something. Keep your fingers crossed for the third response, and prepare for that character rewrite. You'll get there.

dalyamoon.com said...

Poor Sadie! That would sting.

I've noticed that in a lot of YA, the main character has to have some tragedy in her recent past she must feel mopey about. Maybe she used to be happy and now she's all sad and talks with a throaty voice. That's what they did to Elena from the Vampire Diaries when they took it to TV, right? To make her more likeable.

Not saying you need to kill off some family members, but ... wait, maybe I am.

Now, I don't agree with this, necessarily. I think having a recent tragedy is a small part of a character, and can be a bit heavy-handed, but my personal feelings don't seem to match the market.

Donna Hosie said...

I agree with Anne, in many ways you are lucky that both agents agreed the problem was with your MC, and that can be overhauled with revisions. It is far worse when agents disagree with what is wrong. Your premise must be great or they wouldn't have requested it.

Hang in there - feedback is good and you CAN do this.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Oh, I'm sorry about the rejections! That's so hard, but it's good that the agents agree on why they passed. :) Have some chocolate and hugs, and when your novel is finished, it'll be AWESOME. :)

Ricky Bush said...

How 'bout "the girl with the iguana tatoo" who eats Captain Crunch with chocolate syrup. Heck, just wait and see what the last full request brings before you strip Sadie naked.

Ricky Bush said...

How 'bout "the girl with the iguana tatoo" who eats Captain Crunch with chocolate syrup. Heck, just wait and see what the last full request brings before you strip Sadie naked.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You're going to have a time taming that wild filly!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I agree with Gina!!! I found Sadie to be flawed but likable -- and what she did for her sister was anything but self-serving, especially considering the way her sister treated her. (Sorry other blog readers, but no spoilers.)

Remember, these are only opinions, even if they are coming from agents. I loved Sadie's spunk. Maybe she needs to UP the spunk in the manuscript, instead of toning it down. Not all MC's are likable in the beginning. Isn't it part of the whole point to make them change and grow?

And as Jamie said, this kind of feedback means you are *this* close!

SA-DIE, SA-DIE, SA-DIE!

Caledonia Lass said...

Aahahahahaha! Get 'er! (I mean get Sadie...) It's good that you got this kind of feedback! And that you are listening to the suggestions. Go get 'em girl! You can do it. And Sadie... behave!

Old Kitty said...

Oh Sadie!! Run, Sadie, run!! LOL!! Awwwww Creepy!! I am so sorry about the rejections but hey - you got some great feedback and some ideas to work on!! Yay!!! Good luck!!!! You are so nearly there, keep going, keep at it!!! Sorry, Sadie!!!

Take care
x

stu said...

I know you're only joking, but look at this interview. Specifically at the things that might make Sadie unique. They're all about sprinkling on a few extras afterwards. What is unique at the heart of this character?

Meredith said...

Haha, LOVE the wooden leg idea. That'll get people's attention!

Angela Ackerman said...

Characters are always the hardest for me, so i totally get this. Keep at it tho--getting personalized feedback is aces!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

LTM said...

LOL!!! This is awesome. I like Sadie... I'd go w/her screw off response~ :D <3

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You are so fun and clever! I loved this, Katie--brilliant! :-)

Gail M Baugniet said...

You've chosen a perfect outlet for the frustration of rejection. But now you are one step closer to publication!

When I presented my completed manuscript ideas to an editor, she said my protagonist wasn't strong enough to carry a (planned) series. I completely rewrote the story several times before I was satisfied that my protagonist was "strong enough."

Wendy said...

Awesome post! I thought I was crazy having these conversations with my characters. At least I'm not alone.

salarsenッ said...

This is a great skit, K. Keep your eyes focused on the sky. You are almost there. ;D

Susanne Drazic said...

Enjoyed the conversation with your main character. You'll work it out. : )

Anonymous said...

Made me giggle, Katie. I haven't met Sadie yet, but it sounds like you're getting some good advice. Lots of moms send their snarky teens to charm school. I'm sure she'll come out better for it in the end! : ) XO Mom

Jayne said...

I think that is very unique for a start!

At least you have some feedback. Keep focused - you'll get there! :)

Stephsco said...

Hi - new follower here! I found you from Jen Unedited's blog. I love your conversation with your main character. I need to do that with one of mine...

In the feedback you received, was it mentioned what about your main character was unlikeable?

Creepy Query Girl said...

Hi Stephsco- thanks for the follow! The agent didn't care for the way the MC talked down to the geeks or used others to get ahead.

Caitlin said...

Hahaha this had me laughing. Good luck with de-bitchifying!

Karen lee Hallam said...

cute. Sounds like mute could be challenging.

Ed Pilolla said...

i actually think it is hilariously brilliant this back and forth between you and your protagonist. this is the most polished way i've seen negative feedback publicly consumed.
me, i embarrass myself and my family:)

Katie Dodge said...

Ha ha ha! Love it! That's the funniest thing I've read all week. :)

kkrafts said...

Too funny!!!!! And Awesome!
Also I want to thank you for following me at my blog "different corners in my life!" And now I follow you! Don't worry I'm not a stalker!
Thanks again Karen

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