So one blog that I follow is run by a particular literary agent that I
stalk respect, Jenny Bent; and she posted something interesting recently. She spoke of how many stories end up in the slush pile, and really got to the bottom of why these novels get passed on representation.
When you are querying an agent you only have a few paragraphs or pages to hook their interest. Same goes for when a customer is looking at a book for purchase at Barnes&Noble, or online at Amazon. If they aren’t hooked within the first few pages, it is safe to say that they won’t be purchasing the book. Jenny Bent suggests starting your novel when your character’s life changes forever-or when it begins. That is to say, the moment when nothing will ever be the same for your protagonist.
I want to feel connected to your protagonist, to fall in love a little with him or her in the first few pages. But if the protag is telling me their history from fourth grade up, or if they spend five paragraphs walking down a road for no apparent reason, then they’re not really telling me anything, and I’m not going to invest my emotions and want to follow them along.- taken from Bent on Books
Well, this got me thinking…this pertains to life as well. Think about when you first meet someone: a new coworker, a new in-law, possible new friend, in any social setting. This person asks you the inevitable, ” Where are you from? What do you do? What’s your story?”
I know that I have been guilty of the over-share in the past, especially during awkward silences at parties. I have seen the eyes glaze over. The only time I can truly say that I have received genuine interest in a reciprocal manner is in the beginning of new love. So what time and embarrassing situations have taught me is to basically give people my highlights. No one needs to know the entire history of why my family lives across the universe,or why I don’t eat red meat, or why I am half-alien (ha,caught you glazing over). When someone prods for more information, I decidingly make my story more colorful.
So the next time you are telling your story, maybe leave out all of the mundane details, and try to include some that may animate someone else’s day.
“It’s not true. Some of us have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that’s their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you’re that pissed that so many others had it good.”
As Good As It Gets
(one of the greatest movies ever)