In my last post regarding “dealing with rejection from literary agents,” I mentioned that you should keep track of why your book gets rejected (to see if there are common reasons) but to avoid rewriting your story based on one rejection.
I recently received a polite and professional rejection that was complementary (noting that my writing was good and that I was on to something), but the agent ultimately decided not to represent me. Her reason was that I did not provide enough World Building so that she didn’t feel connected to my protagonist.
Fine. That’s a solid reason to reject—I didn’t grab her. Interestingly, I had earlier versions of the book that had a lot more World Building. I cut much of it so that I got to the action more quickly. So my temptation is . . . put some of it back in. Maybe even put in more than was there in the original drafts.
I can’t help it. I find myself imagining ways to flesh out the protagonist’s life—finding ways to introduce new characters, having her in other scenes that show off what her life is really about and who she is.
So . . . do I add any of this? No. I should not. Not based on one person’s opinion! The agent, no matter how wonderful and lovely, is just one person. Also, she’s not going to look at my book again anyway. She already said “No thanks,” so tailoring the novel to her liking doesn’t make any sense. She is never going to see it again.
And yet . . . This is hard to resist. In fact, I broke my rule. I added a little bit more World Building, fleshing out more of her backstory in chapter 2. I didn’t add much—just a few sentences here and there–certainly not enough for the agent to say, “Oh, now that’s plenty of World Building!” but I did add some.
And I’m making a list of more extreme ways to add more World Building should I receive the same reason for rejection in the future. If I hear this again, I will be further tempted to rewrite, but (hopefully) I will be strong and resist. If I hear this reason for rejection from a total of THREE people, then yeah. It will be time to start hacking away again.