Sunday, April 7, 2013

music to an agent's ears

I'm just two or three scenes away from finishing my second novel...meaning that before too long, I'll be sending out a flurry of query letters. With luck, someone will ask to see a few pages of my manuscript. The problem is that the entire piece of work will be judged based on just a few opening lines. I never understood that. It didn't seem fair to me...until this week. Now, I get it. If you enjoy good music, you will, too. Let me explain.
I was flipping through the tracks of a favorite CD this week, looking for something--I don't know what--something sweet and sad. I often use music to set the mood for a scene I'm writing and this week the scene marked the end of a blossoming relationship between my protagonist and the woman he was falling in love with.
 As I went from track to track, I found that I could tell within the first few chords whether the music was right for me or not--not too heavy, not too energetic, but melodic and tender.
I knew in a flash if the piece was by Bartok (whose music I dislike) or Bach (whose music I love), if it was orchestral or choral, if it was raucous or lilting. I didn't have to listen to the whole piece to know what I wanted.  

And this, I think, is how it is with agents. It works the same way for them. They can tell in the first few lines if your book is what they're looking for.
Is the genre something they represent? Is the voice strong and clear?  Can they expect humor or suspense or horror? Are there mistakes in grammar and punctuation right from the start? If the first few lines don't appeal to them, why would they read on?

Why would you listen to Bartok when you can have Bach?
"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about,
but the music the words make."
--Truman Capote--
Spring is still holding out on us.  I would love to see some green grass and cherry blossoms in time for my daughter's bridal shower next weekend. My book, "Empower!" should be available soon. Lots going on...


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