Charmingly Interested

Dear Miss Snark,

Three-year-old Johnny labors over a drawing and upon completion brings the drawing to his parent for praise. The parent looks at the drawing, is unable to decipher the scribbles, glances at Johnny (who is obviously waiting for some sort of praise), and says, “How interesting” or “How charming.” Johnny is satisfied and trots off to create more scribble masterpieces.

What has this to do with writing? Well knowing how “interesting” or “charming” are sometimes used ambiguously, I wonder what to think when an agent/editor sends a rejection that says the work is “interesting” or “charming.” Technically, interesting means arousing curiosity or attention and charming means delightful or fascinating. If the work “aroused curiosity or attention” or was “delightful or fascinating,” wouldn’t an agent/editor want to represent/purchase the work?

So does the industry use terms such as “interesting” and “charming” to pacify the writer and allow us to happily trot away to create more interesting and charming masterpieces?

No. Agents may be reptilian but we do have enough cognitive function to know you're not three years old. "Interesting" and "charming" mean "not right for me" which also means "no". It also means "this doesn't suck so much I want to move and not have my mail forwarded so you'll never query me again".

Sometimes a cigar is just a charming and interesting cigar.


Jillian said...

Interesting. Back when I was officially tied to the Agent From Hades, she consistently referred to my work as "charming." To this day, I wonder why she signed me.

david said...

Ah, yes. Interesting. Back in my Art School days "interesting" and "unique" were gallery-speak for "I have nothing nice to say about this" and "I haven't got a clue." While they may be sincere, I have come not to trust those who cannot think of something more erudite to say about my work.

Anonymous said...

Okay, what about "Your premise is intriguing and your canvas appealing?" Hand written? Alas, it was rejected, due to the excuse "I have too much fiction on my plate." In spite of that, she was so kind, I'm tempted to send a query for my second novel.

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