This afternoon I was on a Skype call with a group of writers and we were talking about all sorts of things including the querying process. One of my writer friends, who has written eight vampire books, had been corresponding with one agent who wrote to him in early March and said he should take a look at the Twilight series and study the elements of what made it so successful.
The email exchanges continued between my friend and the agent, and the last communiqué was that the first 100 pages of his novel still came across as “too drafty.” In other words, he still had more revisions to make. My friend is a meticulous writer who hones down details, has a strong voice, and spends hours revising so it was a surprise to learn this agent found the work too much in the draft phase. But what does that vague phrase mean? Is the dialog weak? Does he tell too much instead of show? Are the characters flat and not three-dimensional? Are there too many holes in the plot? What in the world is “too drafty?”
When I hear stories like this one, I wonder whether agents know what they’re doing or is it all a crap shoot? But at the same time, and I came to this final conclusion after giving it more thought, I see some value to these horror stories. It shows me what comments to expect, but it also gives me the ammunition to avoid them altogether. Thus if my friend’s novel is too drafty when it has all the elements of a complete manuscript then what does Julius need to avoid such nebulous feedback? Time to get tough with myself, and think like an agent, editor, and book reviewer.