Saturday, November 08, 2008

Back at It -- Robin

I recently turned in my completed manuscript to my agent and thought to myself, “Hooray! I’m done! It’s totally, utterly perfect! Time to break out the Kit-Kats!”

Did I mention my delusional nature? Yeah…I can convince myself of anything.

My agent wrote me a long email (correction: long, long, long email) outlining what she loved and what she thought needed more work. The book is coming along, but it’s back to work for me!

I found myself reading her email several times. One, because I have comprehension problems. And two, because she said some amazing things in that email that I think will help not only my story but any writer’s story. They were little nuggets of brilliance that had me banging my head on the table many times. (The last head bang kinda hurt.)

Here are a couple of things she said that I loved. And she’s gonna hate me for putting a spotlight on her. She’s kinda the David Plouffe of the writing world...the one behind the curtain running an amazing campaign. So instead of telling you that her name is Erin Murphy, I will instead refer to her as Agent X (the X stands for “awesome”).

“The difficult but important thing is for readers to feel two contradictory things—that you can’t possibly sustain all this juggling, and that you are in absolute control all the time.”--Agent X

“But of course that means that we need to understand what that closest-to-her-heart thing is. And that has to underpin everything, be the thing she checks all her impulses against, the thing that allows her to step out of her comfort zone and makes her continue to take on more and more problems, upping the ante all the way—because the stakes at the heart of it all are high for her emotionally.”--Agent X

While Agent X is busy at being brilliant and awesome, little ol’ me will be busy getting back to work. See ya’ll later!

- Robin


Brenda Ferber said...

Thanks for sharing that, Robin! Knowing what that "closest to her her heart" thing is definitely brings the manuscript to the next level, but I always find it takes several drafts to discover it. Usually when I start writing, I think I know it, but it turns out it's something else entirely. Does that happen to you?

Katie said...

Good night! Agent X is beyond brilliant! I am going to copy and paste her advice onto my desktop!! Seriously, I am.

Thanks! And Good luck!!!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Wonderful post, Robin. Thansk for passing on that advice. My wife, the reader, and I discussed the first bit. She thought it wouldn't matter so much to readers. So after more discussion, we thought readers might say something like I can't take much more of this, but I have to know what happens next. The chaos and order are combined from that perspective.

Suzanne Young said...

Thank goodness you didn't reveal her true identity!

I love the juggling comment! It's so true! That out of control feeling, but still feeling secure... excellent.

You got this, R!

Bridget said...

Agent X is brilliant and awesome! You are so lucky to have her.

Christy Raedeke said...

You know I had that EXACT feeling when I sent my last WIP to my agent before SCBWI. I left for the conference feeling like it was the tightest thing I'd ever written, then was stunned to receive her feedback. Her reaction was kind of like: I love this dress - can you deconstruct it and make pants out of it?

You seem to be taking the news better than I did. It has taken me two months to realize she was absolutely right. (And it will take me much longer than that to make pants out of it...)

The good news is you have a stellar agent with great advice and a book you love! Throw in a Kit-Kat and you’ve got perfection.


Anonymous said...

In today's PW daily (online)
there's an interview with Wally Lamb where he expounds in similar regions to what your Agent X explored, ALL of which i loved reading about and hopefully learning from and applying...


Jill Corcoran said...

Great advice, Robin. Thanks for sharing.

Susan L. Lipson said...

Dickens epitomizes that ability to sustain a juggling act (all of those crazy coincidences!), while simultaneously maintaining control over his intricately crafted plots. Great advice. I'm looking for just such an astute agent! Best of luck on your current project.