Thursday, October 7, 2010

Write Your Own Rejection

"I couldn't identify with the characters, the plot was hard to follow, and the world didn't live up to it's promise."

Ouch. Anyone else cringing at the words of this rejection? Yeah, it's pretty harsh. But it's honest. I know, because I wrote it to myself.

"Whoa! Back up. You wrote your own rejection?"

Yes, I did. It was part of a lesson in a a monster-load-of-work-but-completely-worth-it course on novel revision. After two excruciating months of reading and re-reading my rough draft without TOUCHING it (which was like dragging myself up a hill in a hailstorm by papercut-covered fingertips) and taking copious notes on what worked (10%), what didn't (90%), I could finally look at my book objectively and know what needed to be fixed and why.

Before we actually started figuring out specifically how to fix our books, the teacher made us write our own rejection letter. We had to try and see our book with the eyes of an agent or editor, and make it brutally honest. You've now read part of mine.

After the gut-twisting "Oh my gosh, I totally suck!" faded away, I knew that I wanted to make sure no editor/agent/reader ever thought that about my revised novel. It gave me direction and motivation. I now keep it where I can see it while I'm revising.

Try it. Look at your current WIP, not with the eyes the author who ripped out bits of your soul with each keystroke, but as an editor/agent who will look at it totally objectively. Then write a rejection letter--with specifics--to yourself.

Once you have it, read it over and over. Then vow to yourself that you will never actually get that letter, because you *will* fix those things.

And go do it.


L.T. Elliot said...

What a smart idea. I wonder though, how do you keep from being TOO hard on yourself? There are some people who have a hard time seeing any good in their own work.

Valerie Ipson said...

ouch is right. The secret is figuring out to be objective.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

This is a cool idea, but it's hard to be objective about your own work.

That's where crit partners and beta readers are invaluable, esp those who will give you an honest reaction.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

BTW, best of luck with the revision! Sounds like you're on the right track.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Interesting! I may have to try this...

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Ouch! That had to be so hard! I think it's a great idea though. I'm going to try it out. I'm not very far in my latest WIP, but already I see holes that need taken care of. I hate that. =(