Got an email from an agent today, which was exciting until I realized that I had submitted my work to the agent the same way. Still, I’d never had an email from an agent before, so I dared hope.
The message read, in part, “You have a nice storyline and a flair for storytelling. The problem is you’ve made a number of common errors that most writers fall victim to.”
Of course, there is no enumeration of what those common errors are. Clearly the agent is not prone to false pedantry about non-rules like ending sentences with prepositions. This is one reason I spend time critiquing a book after I read it, so I can identify those “common errors” and address them in my own work. In this case, the common errors may not even exist. This might just be the standard rejection email, praise and criticism alike. Everyone who submits may have a “flair for storytelling”.
So, how does one spot and stamp out these common errors? First, of course, is friendly but critical feedback from friends. If a few of you out there would like to read The Monster Within and you promise to criticize it ruthlessly, I’d be happy to send it along (although I’m reworking the first three chapters a bit at the moment, to better stun prospective agents).
Second, there’s writing school. I’ve been thinking about writing school for a while now; as with almost any other discipline professional instruction has to be beneficial. Nowhere would I find such consistent criticism than at school, and I would have a chance to air out my more literary musings. Putting a Masters of Fine Arts onto my biographical data in submissions would likely help as well, at least some of the time. I guess it’s time to look into what something like that would cost, and where the likely candidates would be.
Of course, once the Dark War screenplay is turned into a blockbuster, my worries will be over. Better get back to work.