Starting a novel in the wrong place…or why partials get rejected.

The title for this blog entry came from litaray agent Kristin Nelson.  Back in May, she blogged about the two biggest reasons partials aren’t turned into fulls.  And since she was someone who requested a partial for me but didn’t request the full, I really read this closely.  The first reason was that the novel started in the wrong place.  When I sent my partial to Ms. Nelson, it did start in the wrong place.  It took me a long time to realize that and to recognize where the right place was.  And I wasn’t totally wrong.  The scene I started with is still the scene I start with, just at a different point in that scene.

The second reason Ms. Nelson lists for a rejection is minutiae.  In trying to get the story going, the author gives all details of characters, their interactions, everything about them…you get the idea.  The story isn’t really moving forward.  Instead, scenes are created for the sole purpose of character development.  She reminds that relevant character details should be “seamlessly woven” into scenes that move the story forward.  In my case, I’ve never been satisfied with my second chapter.  I always felt like it stalled, but there was information in there that needed to be there.  When I read this from Ms. Nelson, I realized that minutiae is exactly my problem with some of my early chapters.  I start with the story and then kind of take a break to develop things before going back to the story.

I thought long and hard about what to do and (eventually) had an epiphany.  I needed to move my current chapter five or six to chapter 2.  The other details I need to work into the story.  Now we just need to see if I can do it well.

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