View Full Version : submitting partial: should I mention/defend my chosen voice for the story?

04-07-2009, 09:54 PM
Hi folks, I'd appreciate any advice from the seasoned among us. I've been querying for my first novel, an urban fantasy. I've gotten about 12 responses so far, including 3 partials and a full. The 3rd partial request just came today.

The agent mentioned that she's looked at my query/sample 5 pages several times and "is not sure enough to say no", so would like to see 50 pages.

I fear one of the things that may be turning off agents is the fact that I have written the novel with a very personal, colloquial voice. This isn't how I always write, it just turned out to be the voice of this narrator. I think it can be a pro or a con.

After reading Nathan Bransford's blog, I realize (duh!) that submitting my partial is another chance to convince the agent, emphasize important things from my query, sell my work.

In this case, would you recommend that I mention the voice issue, overtly state that I believe it is a positive aspect of the story b/c of X, Y, and Z, but that I am willing to rewrite with a less colloquial tone, if that's the advice of the agent? Or is that drawing attention to it? Or is it being too namby-pamby to suggest that I'm willing to do that type of rewrite?

Mind you, none of the agents has actually told me that the voice/tone is their concern--that's my speculation. They've all just said that it's not right for them...

Thanks for making it through this long post!

Clair Dickson
04-07-2009, 10:00 PM
Let the writing speak for itself. Selling is different from defending. Defending seems like a bad idea... in a partial and many other times in life.

Also, doesn't it go without saying that you think the voice you used *is* a good fit for the story? You wouldn't have used it if you thought otherwise, I assume.

I'm not an agent, nor do I have one, but I wouldn't recommend defending your choice of voice. Just send the partial and stop jumping to conclusions about why you were rejected. For all you know, you're partial was rejected because you lost steam or had a plot twist the agents didn't love or it was just okay. (Or it was well written, but not appealing to that particular agent.)

04-07-2009, 10:03 PM
No, I wouldn't. I suppose if she rejects it and mentions not liking the voice, you can then say you are willing to do a rewrite.

04-07-2009, 10:15 PM
If you ever have to defend your writing outside of your writing, then you have failed. A customer in a bookstore is not going to hear your defense; your writing has to speak for itself.

04-08-2009, 02:22 AM
You want an agent that loves your voice, so let it shine as is. My voice is pretty personal and colloquial and I got tons of great feedback about it. Even people who rejected me said the loved the voice.

Trust in your work :) If the query shows that voice, it might just be what made her ask for more.

04-08-2009, 02:42 AM
If you ever have to defend your writing outside of your writing, then you have failed. A customer in a bookstore is not going to hear your defense; your writing has to speak for itself.

If it's not clear that the voice works within the first 50 pages of your manuscript, it's not working. No defense will change that.

Be positive! The agent obviously likes something in the sample you provided; now wow them with the partial!

04-08-2009, 07:38 AM
hey that sounds familiar lol! You need to be committed to how you visualize the story- Some people are turned off by my mentally challenged narrator some love it- as others have stated- you CANT hang over the reader's shoulder and defend your choice. Check out my amazon reviews and you'll see the qualities that work for some readers don't for others- That being said- if many agents are turned off then you may need to reexamine whether your literary strategy is working...