From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rejection Thursday - Holding Nothing Back

Today I am going to share a copy of a rejection letter that I received for my first novel Come As You Are. I have removed the publisher/editor information. Although this rejection is a little harsh, I was able to learn how to improve my writing, and I hope you will find it helpful as well.

I have read COME AS YOU ARE and am sorry that I must pass on this project.
We have saying in romance, SHOW, don't TELL. Much of Mary's story is told to the reader, which distances them from getting to know the characters. By showing us Mary's feelings and emotions, the reader can identify with her character more and learn to love her, which makes them want to read more and more of her story. Reader's are escorted through Mary's day from start to finish, without any development of the relationship between the hero and heroine.

Mary also comes across as passive, in allowing others to tell her what she is feeling and only wanting to please Paul. A heroine is just that - heroic. She should be more proactive in her own life, expecting much of herself and others. She has not given any clue what she wants from life. Her life revolves around attracting Paul, up to and including changing her body type in case that is what is so displeasing to him (although he's not said anything). The reader is invited into Mary's quest to capture Paul with details on how she plans to take on a new diet and exactly what food she can eat.

There are issues with points-of-view. I realize that many modern writers head-hop in their novels, but I am an editor who prefers one POV per chapter. It allows the reader to get to know the character very well.

The secondary characters, unless they are important to the developing relationship, do not need to be mentioned by name. I was confused as to why Mary was attending a Singles church meeting, when she is in a committed relationship. Unless Paul goes, too? However, she doesn't go with Paul, nor is there a mention that Paul will be there. I would expect them to attend together, if at all. During her thoughts, the reader is informed of all Mary's good ideas concerning what the Singles plan to do...yet nothing about Paul, who is her almost-fiance.

If Steven is the hero, the story should being there. There is no need to go into Mary's past history with Paul. Romance is about the developing relationship between two people who will eventually work their way to a Happy Ever After. There is no need to tell the stories of the people in their past, except as a paragraph, at most.

Although I was quite disappointed when I received this, I can honestly say I have grown quite a bit from the process. How about you reader? Are you letting rejection hold you back, or are you learning from it and moving forward?


  1. Oh, thanks for sharing. It's really insightful to read (and brave of you to post). I haven't yet submitted my work anywhere other than beta's... anyway, I would hope I'd be able to learn from rejection :) but I know it's hard to remove yourself from your work.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Yes it was very hard, this submission started in the hands of one editor, and ended up with the editor who sent me this note. She didn't have my original proposal, but I had to be completely honest with myself (it's the only way you grow as a writer) could I improve? The answer was yes. Good luck submitting your work, rejection is hard, but it only takes ones yes!

  3. Thanks for sharing that, Colleen. All writers will get rejected if they put their work "out there." But you'll never get a YES if you don't try!

  4. Colleen, this is such a wonderful post! How very true, as well, that we must learn to accept and even at times embrace criticism. Although it is VERY painful to do so, only through our difficult times can we grow - and improve! In the end, fear cannot be the deciding factor, but faith in ourselves and our work will ultimately get us through!!

  5. You are so brave, Colleen! Thanks for posting this. Writers work alone most of the time so it's always encouraging to realize we're not the only people dealing with things like rejections.

    And as far as rejection letters go, this one is awesome because the editor took so much time to give you really great, tangible feedback! That says something; obviously she/he sees your potential. It's never good to be told our baby isn't perfect just the way it is, but when we get someone in the industry who thinks it's not a waste of their precious time to give helpful comments, that's awesome. And you've got such a great attitude, Colleen! Way to go.

  6. That was awesome that they DID give feedback!


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