6.04.2006

Overdone?

Do you (or do any agents you know) have a knee-jerk reaction to novels with correspondence of some sort beginning the novel?

(Chapter 1: "Dear Killer Yapp, Your evil stares are insufferable. Signed, The Black Cat from Central Park.")

Assuming the information in the letter has a point and that seems to be the best way to convey it. Is it overdone, something every agent dreads seeing? Do you say "Oh no, not one of these again!" and reach for the gin as soon as you start reading?



Ella Minnow Pea


You write something like this and I'll read it. I don't have a knee jerk antipathy toward letters like I do weather, dreams, prologues, deceased canines, flowing tresses, or dark and stormy nights....yet (even with "Dear Miss Snark" coming at her in droves in her mailbox).

Write well. That's it.

You can even write a prologue about the weather and if you do it well enough I'll read it.
The hard truth is 99.9% of the things I read AREN'T done well enough to ignore the "no prologue no weather" prejudice.

it's a very very astute writer who knows what they don't know how to do well...yet.

I learned that from Lisa Selin Davis who wrote an amazing book called Belly.

10 comments:

Extra Dry said...

If I could write as well as you, you'd buy my work in a heartbeat.

Cynthia Bronco said...

"The night was sultry..."
Throw Mama From the Train was one of my favorites
:)

wannabe said...

Yes, but then I threw down The Egyptologist because the entire book was either diaries or letters. I couldn't read it.

Carmen said...

wannabe, ever read the Griffin & Sabine books?

vmbntv said...

That's the problem with rules.
If you are god's gift to writing you can probably break all of them, laughing, and it will still be great.
But ggtws aren't thick on the ground.
The rest of us had better try not to start off by shooting ourselves in the foot before we stick it in the door.
(Lest we draw back a bloody stump.)

MWT said...

I didn't read the Griffin & Sabine books because it looked like it was going to take too much work, what with all the opening/unfolding refolding/stuffing back into the envelopes thing. Cute gimmick, but when I'm reading I just want to read without having to jump through hoops for the story.

I wonder how well clerical workers liked those books.

McKoala said...

I thought that Griffin & Sabine was an awful lot of packaging for not much story.

sffvei said...

I just read Griffin & Sabine! And thought it was neat.

Also, Ella Minnow Pea was da bomb.

Elektra said...

What do you guys think of the "ology" books?

Carmen said...

I think the "ology" books are cute, nice coffee table books. I'm a sucker for the little letters and mini-"books" and such inside them, sample "dragon" skin, etc. :)