Saturday, 16 May 2009

Top-Ten Reasons Why Manuscripts Get Rejected

Guest Blogger, Laura Bridgewater lists the 10 reasons why manuscripts may go in slush-pile at The Writing Bug. 10. Overdone description that doesn't move the story forward 9. Spoon-feeding the reader what the character is thinking 8. Having the characters address each other repeatedly by name, as in, "John, let's go!" 7. Introducing a character with first and last name, as in, "John Smith entered the room." 6. Beginning a story with dialogue 5. Opening with a cliché 4. Yanking the reader out of the action with backstory 3. Not giving the reader a sense of place or where the story is going 2. Characters are MIA until bottom of page 2 1. Telling instead of showing I found #7 quite surprising, though I suppose it's more of a guideline than hard and fast rule.


  1. I stopped at 7 and squinted. Huh? I won an agent's contest with my first paragraph. And I used the character's full name in the first two sentences. I've since cut his full name, but still, it was there to begin with in the contest.

    And 8? What? There's great published works out there that begin with dialogue.

    I really don't like lists of rules and reasons. Too many start to make us feel penned in and slaves to them. However, I still think this is a good list and has great things to consider.

    I like your blog! Glad I stopped by. :)

  2. Number seven and eight kind of confused me. But the others make a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lady Glamis, thanks for stopping by. I don't like rules too, so I think of them more as a guideline. It's worth knowing what annoys agents, and at this stage I think worth following unless one is absolutely certain that breaking that rule makes a stronger scene. In which case, I would say go for it.

  4. Jenna,

    Yes, I think 7 and 8 are the ones that do not obviously stand out as "wrong" and also because they have been broken in many published books.

    I seriously doubt any good agent would reject a book just for breaking those rules, if you had an otherwise decent book.

  5. I read this list...very helpful to read again on your blog. Strong reminders.
    ~ Wendy