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View Full Version : "Broadly drawn" and other phrases writers probably shouldn't lose sleep over



HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 01:32 AM
HYPOTHETICALLY, if I were one to obsess over probable form rejections, what does "your novel is a little too broadly drawn for me to see its commercial appeal" mean?

BethS
04-13-2012, 01:41 AM
HYPOTHETICALLY, if I were one to obsess over probable form rejections, what does "your novel is a little too broadly drawn for me to see its commercial appeal" mean?

Hmmmm.

Not intimate enough? Conflicts not concrete and personal enough?

Heck if I know.

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 01:46 AM
This is the first R that I'm scratching my head over.

I suppose, based on the first 3 chapters (this was from a query w/ requested full attached and the agent has a really high no-reply rate, so I really can't tell if it's a personalized or form R), it could mean "stereotypical," which isn't too far off-base, as the3 MCs are written (wisely or not, we'll see) to be archetypal on the surface.

Ah, well. Such is the life!

(It occurs to me this is probably better off in R&D.)

GingerGunlock
04-13-2012, 01:47 AM
That....is an interesting one. Broadly drawn is one of those phrases I've heard and might use, but when called upon to define, especially in this context, I scratched my head. Maybe they feel the novel should have had a narrower focus on certain factors? Been more specific?

That's my best shot. Not a great shot, I know.

Drachen Jager
04-13-2012, 01:49 AM
Perhaps the agent is saying you gloss over details, and tend to only show the big picture?

That's just a guess.

RKLipman
04-13-2012, 01:51 AM
Honestly, I have no clue.

Sorry I can't help more, but you're not the only one who would find that baffling.

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 01:54 AM
Yeah... Makes me kind of like the "I didn't connect with your xyz," form more.

Also I read it like 6 times to make sure he didn't say "badly drawn." I hardly included ANY pictures! ;)

flapperphilosopher
04-13-2012, 02:11 AM
Hmmm... too much 'big picture', not enough little details, maybe? Not connected to the characters enough? Toooo "high concept"? I have no idea, just a couple more guesses to toss in, haha. I wouldn't obsess over it, it's rather broadly drawn feedback.

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 02:14 AM
it's rather broadly drawn feedback.

:ROFL: I know. It's like, THIS is why agents do no-reply-means-no. If I was a less stable woman, I'd probably respond all, "LOL WAT UR MOM'S FACE IS BROADLY DRAWN," but, alas. I'm reasonably well-adjusted and would never reply to an R.

It was nice to get a reply at all, though!

flapperphilosopher
04-13-2012, 02:19 AM
Hahaha, doesn't it sometimes seem like it would be fuuun to be the kind of person who just flips out? Damn stability and professionalism!

Also I agree it makes you a bit crazy when you aren't sure whether/how much of a rejection is form. I'm totally not overthinking one of mine... ;)

Paul
04-13-2012, 02:21 AM
This is the first R that I'm scratching my head over.

I suppose, based on the first 3 chapters (this was from a query w/ requested full attached and the agent has a really high no-reply rate, so I really can't tell if it's a personalized or form R), it could mean "stereotypical," which isn't too far off-base, as the3 MCs are written (wisely or not, we'll see) to be archetypal on the surface.

Ah, well. Such is the life!

(It occurs to me this is probably better off in R&D.)
yeah, i think it's badagentspeak for stereotypical.


bad, because she/ he would be better off saying too narrow for commercial appeal.


broadly drawn is the bread n butter of commercially viable novels.

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 02:38 AM
I was kind of thinking the same thing.

"Your novel's a little too commercially appealing for it to be commercially appealing. Better luck next time!"

I'm gonna pretend that's what it means.

But, like, I'm kinda thinking that this is a nice, albeit cryptic rejection. Like, the problem isn't with basic mechanics, but crafty-things.

OR it doesn't mean anything more than "it's not right for me, but thanks!"

:D

GingerGunlock
04-13-2012, 02:55 AM
I was kind of thinking the same thing.

"Your novel's a little too commercially appealing for it to be commercially appealing. Better luck next time!"

I'm gonna pretend that's what it means.

But, like, I'm kinda thinking that this is a nice, albeit cryptic rejection. Like, the problem isn't with basic mechanics, but crafty-things.

OR it doesn't mean anything more than "it's not right for me, but thanks!"

:D

Maybe badagents need to feel dreadfully clever sometimes as well ;)

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 03:53 AM
And since this thread is incredibly googleable when one searches for "too broadly drawn," (showing us how common a phrase it is... :Shrug:) let me just say this:

I am genuinely thankful for any and all feedback, and do not believe there's such an animal as a "badagent," especially not ones I query! I am extremely easy-going and pleasant to work with and will never call you at home to argue over revision notes.

Love,

H. Badger

twright
04-13-2012, 05:30 AM
HYPOTHETICALLY, if I were one to obsess over probable form rejections, what does "your novel is a little too broadly drawn for me to see its commercial appeal" mean?

If I had to make an interpretation just based on that one sentence, I would guess that the agent is saying that the work does not fit closely enough with a particular genre to be successfully marketed in that genre.

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 05:56 AM
:(

It's commercial fiction.

Colossus
04-13-2012, 07:16 AM
With the number of agents and publishers peeing themselves over vampires right now, perhaps they meant you don't have enough undead in it.

Kidding, ...did you put in a target audience in with your proposal? Maybe they can't see who your story is aimed for....

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 07:29 AM
I dunno, man. It's just a book. Just plain old general, upmarket commercial fiction. It's for reading on airplanes and in book clubs and by men and by women. Maybe they went to college, maybe not. They're probably aged 20-45.

Like. People who buy books. Commercial fiction.


I betchya it all has a lot more to do with the word: caricature. Or it's a form, who knows? :D A... unique form.

Colossus
04-13-2012, 07:33 AM
I dunno, man. It's just a book. Just plain old general, upmarket commercial fiction. It's for reading on airplanes and in book clubs and by men and by women. Maybe they went to college, maybe not. They're probably aged 20-45.

Like. People who buy books. Commercial fiction.


I betchya it all has a lot more to do with the word: caricature. Or it's a form, who knows? :D A... unique form.


That's too specific.. ha, kidding.

Seriously, I had a great conversation with an agent who told me one of the best experiences he had as a writer was when he subbed an agent and had a general plan already in mind. The agent was impressed by his idea of a target audience and how to reach them. If the agent sent you this type of personal comment, it may be a signal to give them more of your idea of what you want this book to do other than "sell a lot of copies and make me a lot of money".

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 07:47 AM
Aw, shit, man. You think I don't know what I'm gonna banter about with Jon Stewart? You best think again.

But, seriously (I do know, though. It's going to be a hoot.), querying is going *shockingly* well. Like, to the point that I'm nervous that this is all a hoax of mythic proportions. The query's solid. It's the novel itself that the agent's worried about, for whatever reason, and that's cool. If it's not ready for the market, it's not ready for the market.

But, again, this was but one sentence that might be a form rejection. If I keep getting "too broadly drawn novel," then, boy. Then we've got ourselves a problem!

Thanks everyone!

Theo81
04-13-2012, 02:09 PM
At a guess (and one made having read the Q and the opening in SYW), I'd translate this as "I don't know who I'd sell it to".

You can't sell something to everybody. You need to identify your core market, sell it to them and work out from there.

Don't sweat it. Somebody else will know. :)

heyjude
04-13-2012, 04:52 PM
I initially read it as "You don't focus enough on one character/set of circumstances." But clearly it's all open to interpretation.

You definitely have the right attitude. :)

HoneyBadger
04-13-2012, 07:26 PM
Thanks!

Being cheerful is a fun way to live one's life, I think.

Now let's all talk about how "a little too..." anything really is just code for "someone else might like this just fine."

ios
04-13-2012, 07:57 PM
HYPOTHETICALLY, if I were one to obsess over probable form rejections, what does "your novel is a little too broadly drawn for me to see its commercial appeal" mean?

It is confusing.

It almost sounds like a note the agent dashed off without thinking too hard about it and so his/her message didn't get across.

Or perhaps it is purposeful and it is his/her version of a form rejection. That is, it's not really supposed to mean anything but be a wordy way to say "no" because sometimes people, in all walks of life, think being direct with the "no" is rude and dispiriting.

I dunno.

Jodi

Undercover
04-13-2012, 11:29 PM
Maybe he means your novel (as he sees it) is vague in story (too broadly drawn) and not commercial enough to appeal to a bigger audience.

Quickbread
04-14-2012, 12:02 AM
From the phrase "broadly drawn," I get that things aren't specific enough and are too generic. Sure, commercial fiction needs to have wide appeal, but the characters, their traits, settings, scenes, challenges and conflicts should still feel very specific to their particular book and story. Maybe there were elements that either felt stereotypical to this agent or simply underwritten and not detailed enough.

amschilling
04-14-2012, 12:57 AM
Is this the novel with Arthur? Because if it is, it sounds more like a generic reject than something specific to the query/book. It's most definitely commercial, and quirky enough to get lots of nibbles. And it's not focused on the whole of the city, but is specific to Arthur and his world from what I've gathered. So I don't think it's that the story itself is too all-encompassing or unfocused.

Or, ya know, maybe the guy is a putz who's deathly afraid of anything with a fun, slightly-weird protag. *shrug* I wouldn't let him drive you crazy over it, unless a bunch of other agents say the same thing.

HoneyBadger
04-14-2012, 01:06 AM
Yeppp.

My dad said it's like JD Salinger wrote Odd Thomas, so maybe I'll put that in the query.

Hell, maybe that'll be the WHOLE query.

Dear Agent,

I heard you like books so I wrote one. My grammy likes it and my dad said it's like JD Salinger wrote ODD THOMAS, and it's got like, all these horses in it, and autism, and oh, man. It's so good. You'll love it, which is why I am sending it to you, tied to this brick (which I would like returned in the SASE I included), which I hurled through your daughter's bedroom window.

Love,

H. Badger

P.S. I really like what you've done with the hall carpet.

amschilling
04-14-2012, 09:02 AM
Yeppp.

My dad said it's like JD Salinger wrote Odd Thomas, so maybe I'll put that in the query.

Hell, maybe that'll be the WHOLE query.

Dear Agent,

I heard you like books so I wrote one. My grammy likes it and my dad said it's like JD Salinger wrote ODD THOMAS, and it's got like, all these horses in it, and autism, and oh, man. It's so good. You'll love it, which is why I am sending it to you, tied to this brick (which I would like returned in the SASE I included), which I hurled through your daughter's bedroom window.

Love,

H. Badger

P.S. I really like what you've done with the hall carpet.

Hmmm... you may want to clarify if it's like Odd Thomas during his Elvis days or his Sinatra days. Just to make sure the agent has a clear understanding.

The hall carpet is a nice touch. I'm sure they'll appreciate your compliment on their home improvement projects!

Miss Plum
04-14-2012, 10:10 PM
Or it's a form, who knows? :D A... unique form.
That's my theory. Its ambiguity and subjectivity reminds me of the notorious "I just didn't connect with the characters."