View Full Version : When agent revisions go wrong

05-19-2009, 11:56 AM
Anyone else been in this situation? My agent finally got back to me and I met with him yesterday. And he really doesnít like what Iíve done with draft 2 of my book. The disappointment was dripping off him. In fact, he preferred the first draft (but also felt there were things that needed changing with that).

We went through draft 2 page by page, some of the main issues was overwriting which is fine, I can sort that (think I got a bit too over-confident after getting an agent and let the purple prose take over). But he also pointed out things he didnít like which were in draft 1 too Ė guess heís just being ultra fussy now.

Main issues are with the motivations of certain characters, that certain scenes donít move things on and that it was a much slower read. So back to the drawing board.

Am terrified heíll hate draft 3 too. I have ideas of injecting brand new elements but I donno. I came away a bit confused. I did ask questions but he answered them a bit vageuly. it felt like he needed more excitement but wanted it tighter too. Itís so tough, this writing stuff. I guess I just thought heíd love the revisions then heíd send out to publishers but boy, was I naive.

So, advice appreciated from those whoíve been through this. I guess I'm lucky to have agent who was willing to take me on even though I needed some 'help', if that makes sense.

05-19-2009, 03:46 PM
Your agent has shown faith in your manuscript by taking the time to work with you in person, and in great detail. Continue on with that collaboration. An agent isn't going to put this much time into a story unless there is a good chance it will ultimately be marketable. Lean on the agent's experience to produce draft three.

05-19-2009, 04:07 PM
It took 4 rounds of hard edits to get mine where we were both happy. I printed out his points and addressed them one by one in an outline first, gave him a copy before I wrote any more (This was after edit 2 and there were even more problems) we went over the outline, got everything hashed out and I wrote edit 3, a few minor tweaks and version 4 was the one.

You can do it!

Oh, and once you get used to working together, the next book goes much smoother!!! Trust me!

05-19-2009, 04:11 PM
My agent encourages me to bounce ideas off her if I'm stuck on something or want a drastic change with a character or plot point. Maybe you could email him a short list of your new elements to see what he thinks before getting too deeply into revisions.

05-19-2009, 04:52 PM
Thanks, am definitely going to email over a list of new elements, we agreed to this.I think I expected a whirlwind. That I'd do minor tweaks then it's sent out. Ha ha... ;-)

05-19-2009, 04:54 PM
I know a woman who went through three edits with her agent and another round with the publishers. She now has a two-book contract with Harper Collins. Try not to be discouraged and try not to doubt yourself so much that your writing suffers. The core of the manuscript must be very good or your agent wouldn't bother. Address what he requests you address, but don't fiddle with it too much more.

Old Hack
05-20-2009, 12:02 AM
Try not to see this as a disappointment: just bear in mind that your agent wouldn't bother with any of this if he or she didn't think that your book was stonkingly good already--it's too much bother to do it for an average book.

If I were you I'd take a couple of days to digest this before you start work. Remember that none of the suggestions your agent has made are obligatory, although you'd be wise to address all of the problems that have been raised: you can come up with your own suggestions about how they can be solved. Think carefully about it all; if you don't want to follow your agent's advice then tell him or her why you feel that way, and what you propose to do instead; speak to your agent, decide how you're going to proceed, and then get on with it.

And be smug that you've written a book that an agent cares enough about to bother with, and that you're a writer an agent feels confident enough in to ask for revisions instead of dumping at the first hurdle. You really have done well here, and this is just an opportunity for you to build on your strenghts.

05-20-2009, 12:39 AM
it felt like he needed more excitement but wanted it tighter too.

To shed some (dim) light on this portion of your agent's comments, it sounds like he was reacting to the pacing of your novel. Both adding "more excitement" and tightening up your prose will result in a faster-paced read, just in different ways. With the first, whether you're adding car chases or space aliens or a really good argument between characters, you're upping the stakes, offering more opportunities for cliffhangers, and generally filling your story with forward momentum. When you tighten up the squishy spots, you're getting rid of redundant scenes/lines/words, making sure characters don't dwell in their heads too much, and generally keeping the thing from getting too emo.

Both approaches will create zippiness, even though one is adding material and one takes it away.