Monday, August 1, 2011

Top Reasons for Rejections from TWRP

The following list was put together after a discussion on our editor loop about the top reasons why an editor here at TWRP rejects a manuscript.  We hope these will come in handy for everyone who writes for us or is attempting to get contracted.
Rejection reasons from TWRP Editors

My last dozen or so rejections have been for either 1) poor control of POV, which leads right to a shallow emotional layer, or 2) the story isn't enough of a romance but is women's fiction with some romance tossed in.

POV issues seem to crop up more and more in submissions.  I've also had several that fall far short of the romance we are looking for or have so many plot lines and characters that the romance is too deeply buried to really shine. 

Another reason that I see over and over again is passiveness.  There is just no vibrancy, tension or action to bring the story alive.

I get a lot of stories where the hero and heroine marry halfway through and she gets pregnant, then the rest of the book has only external conflict keeping them apart (villain or distance).

Since I'm in Faery, I get excellent scifi/fantasy stories that boil down to not being romance. No conflict between hero and heroine. Their goals align too early.   I really enjoy some of the stories and the artistry of the writers, but they won't work for TWRP.

Lack of originality. I can't tell you the number of stories that begin with someone ditching their wedding or returning to town after a long absence. Also, I turned down an awesome story, a sort of sequel to a story that's sold a ton of copies--because it wasn't a romance.

I'm with the pov issue and the stories that don’t fit our line. It is like they do not read the guidelines for what each line or what TWRP is looking for.

Telling, not showing, lack of focus (story is all over the place), passive writing, pacing problems, and lack of control over POV issues.  I do get a lot that are not a romance, as well.

Scarlet has the same issues everyone else has mentioned. Substandard writing, not within our guidelines, and not romance but flat out erotica.

POV is a big one for me followed very close by 2 dimensional characters with no deeper undertone--as in conversations that have people just standing there talking with no action or inflection and telling descriptions with no depth
POV, and lack of relationship depth. 
The conflict shouldn't feel contrived or made up just for tension. The elusive "voice" thing is also important for me.

Sometimes a story is well written but the voice is I guess you'd call it DULL.

Like everyone else I struggle with the telling writing, not romance and pov.  My problem with pov though is when they think it is okay to have ten of them. 

As  we get the initial queries in, it is really irritating when they obviously haven’t read our website and they haven’t included things like a synopsis

I see too many authors who don't understand why NOT to use a hundred points of view.

Keeping with Black is predominantly vamp and shifters, originality is a big contract breaker as well. 

My pet peeve is the lack active writing and use of the senses.  You know when you lose yourself in a story(you seem to be part of it) and you're still thinking about it days/weeks later? You are literally still 'feeling' it? I look for strong imagery and use of senses as well as a deep and true romance(emotion-I want to laugh and cry and literally share the characters emotions) and a unique storyline.  I have been fortunate of late to receive some really awesome and different story threads and I might add strongly written!

There you go writers - take these words and heed them.  Go over your latest manuscript and see if you fit any of these rejection flags and see how to change it.  As always, you will grow the more you write so never stop trying.



Harlie Williams said...

Great post and the reasons are pretty basic for rejection. Keep up the great work that you do.

Harlie Williams said...

Also, some the comments by the editors were, I'm sorry to say, funny.

I realize that an editor's job is hard and sometimes frustrating so hang in there.

Barbara Edwards said...

Great post. I need to have all the issues pointed out in a simple to undrstand manner. thanks.

Monique DeVere said...

You forgot to mention, no matter how well-written the story, it can still be rejected for being too formulaic :)

Kellie Kamryn said...

Thanks for sharing that. It must be frustrating to see manuscripts that fail to read the guidelines before submission. We shall do our best not to do that to you!

Larry Hammersley said...

Good points. I suspect I've failed in some way on all these points. I need to be reminded of them certainly.

Julie Harrington said...

So many people are so worried about marketing plans and social networking and building a brand or platform that they sometimes forget it all boils down to the story. Learning the craft. Strengthening the elements of good, strong character, emotion, and conflict. These are all great points to focus on (especially POV, passive writing, and establishing your own voice) and I think the hardest ones for writers to get a handle on are Passive Voice, Show Don't Tell and the difference between Multiple Perspective (usually just the hero and heroine's in romance) vs. Head Hopping. Head Hopping isn't a style or a proper perspective, it's just confusing! LOL!


Allie Hawkins said...

I suspect we've all read some bestsellers that defy every pet peeve mentioned, and sometimes think we can get by with little or no romance, dull writing (just a bit), one-dimensional characters, no sensory reactons . . .

Thx for the reminders.

Jennifer Johnson said...

Hi, all. Great blog. I'm not surprised that there are POV issues. I've read two books recently from New York publishers which had a lot of POV changes in the same scenes. I thought that was a huge no-no. Is it that authors are getting more lax or what? But if that's what would-be authors are reading, there's no wonder that's what they're pitching, I suppose.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Always good to be reminded of what we SHOULD know.

Rhonda Penders said...

My goal in posting this blog was to help writers understand what we're seeing - but I love the fact that you guys get what we're looking for..always remember - we publish romance. It has to be a romance and have a happy ever after ending. The characters have to make you feel good, cheer for them, want to stay with them and love them.

Watch your mechanics.
Watch your pov.
Watch your dialogue

Yep basic stuff but really so important. There are some great workshops coming up from on a lot of this stuff - if you think you need a refresher check them out - shameless plug for a friend of mine!


Joanne Stewart said...

Great blog. Always nice to know. Sounds to me like it's about knowing and honing your craft, learning to write a well written, emotional story.

But yeah...there ARE some big authors out there getting away with stuff we're told NEVER to do. And frankly, I'm not a fan of them. I've tried reading a few, but the clear lack in the writing pulls me out every single time.

Sandy L. Rowland said...

Not a surprise. I think we all know this, but it's good to get a kick in the tush and be reminded.

Thanks for the great post!

None said...

POV is one of my biggest problems. The other is telling not showing. Sometimes I get so into the writing process, that all the rules sort of fly out the window.

Thank you for the list. I'm going to keep this handy so I can check it often.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

I enjoyed the inside look. The things the editors mention are the things that drive me crazy as a reader. I was doing a workshop, and one of the books I was reviewing had several different POV's per chapter -- even within sentences. Drove me nuts. If I were an editor and these sort of manuscripts were coming across my desk every day, I think I'd have to track down some Lorazepam.

Becca Simone said...

Great, informative post.

All writers need to remind themselves that rejection is part of the business. Every rejection brings you that much closer to a sale. Some great books were rejected many, many times before selling. THE HELP was rejected 60 times before finding an agent. So never give up.

But always, always keep honing your craft.

Donna L Bolk said...


Good points, all. POV is usually an easy fix, who gains or stands to lose the most in a scene. My pet peeve is when the hero/heroine do mood swings without a reason. One minute, laughing and the next yelling at one another. The number two no-no, is diolgue that doesn't sound natural.

Isabella Macotte said...

Valuable info! Thanks for the tips!

Randi Alexander said...

Thanks for the reminders, and know that we appreciate all our talente conscientious editors!

Randi Alexander said...

PS: Laughing out loud because I had a typo in my last comment. Just imagine my poor editor dealing with a whole manuscript from me!

Debra St. John said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing all of these...I'm in an editing stage right now before submitting, and now I'll really be on the look out for these 'deal breakers'.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Very helpful! I was rejected by TWRP a couple of times before I was accepted. Reading through this list was like an epiphany. I think I just may go back to those old manuscripts and give them a fresh look with more knowledgable eyes and perhaps a bit of polish.