It’s that time again. Let’s take a look at some more reasons editors pass, shall we?
1. (Specific to YA) Too heavily focused on adults. Teens are engrossed with their peers, and they want to read about those peer relationships. What they say, what they do, what they think…about others/themselves/etc. So when a story revolves profoundly around teen interactions with parents, therapists, mentors, or any other adult, it’s essential to add a few moments (sometimes just a sentence here or there) thinking about the nonfamily folks in the teen character’s life to balance it out. The character is our (the reader’s) lens.
Say your character is forced into therapy. Some things to think about are: How does she feel during these sessions? Does she want to be there? How does SHE process the time she spends with the psychiatrist—and how does she relate that to the reader? It’s not that adults can’t be present in the story at all, but make sure to keep the passages from becoming too parent/adult heavy. Balance is key.
2. Holes in the world-building. This one’s fairly self-explanatory, but crucial. When an editor (or intern) reads through a manuscript, the last thing we want is to be left doubting ANY aspect of the story. But especially the world in which we’ve just spent several hours living in. The world-building needs to be seamless down to the food your characters eat and the games they play. Rules can’t be broken out of convenience for your plot or characters. Or accidentally either. Readers are smart (editors even smarter) and will likely catch these mistakes.
Now, I’m not saying make one slip-up and you’re chances with that editor are toast, but if it’s a major discrepancy or there are several it might make the editor hesitate before making his/her decision. (Note: A hesitating editor is usually not good.)
This is where your beta readers will be your best friends. Specifically ask them to comb through your manuscript looking for these types of inconsistencies.
3. Story is too similar to something already published. Unique. Sick of that word yet? Well, there’s a reason you hear it so much. Because your story has to be DIFFERENT—in every way possible—from what’s already out. I’ve personally read through manuscripts that were written with absolute flawlessness, even recommended them to the editor, but had to watch them get rejected for the reason: Too close to _____ (fill in the blank of Popular Novel X here). It breaks my heart to see this, but the editors are right; would a novel so similar have a chance up against Popular Novel X?
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