One of those ever-interesting posts about “reasons I passed on your query,” over at Janet Reid’s blog.
1. You’re using the memoir format to make a political or domestic point.
I’m not interested in being lectured to in any form, and particularly not in 300+ pages.
A good memoir is so brutally honest that it’s painful. That means you’re exploring yourself, not pointing fingers at someone else.
Wow, yes. I mean, definitely no. Cannot think of anything I want less, personally, than to be lectured at for 300 pages.
Not that I read very much memoir.
Let’s see, what else … okay, here’s another:
4. Misused/wrong words
I’ve steeled myself to overlook your almost universal inability to properly conjugate the verb to lie.
I’ve shut my eyes to consistent its/it’s errors.
But honestly, words are your tools. When you get them wrong, it’s just painful.
Oh, no no no. I have definitely not steeled myself regarding misuse of “lie” versus “lay.” I don’t care how universal that error is. It’s a hill worth dying on. That’s before we get to the even more important hill involving “it’s” versus “its.”
Interesting to me that an agent would make herself read past that kind of error. I think that would be a dealbreaker for me, if I were an agent. It’s very nearly a dealbreaker for me as a reader. Not quiiiiite. But very nearly.
I’ll tolerate confusion about “may” versus “might.” And I will also tolerate, under protest, errors regarding “effect” and “affect.” Those two just about exhaust my tolerance of misused words, though.
Oh, fine. I can just barely stand to read a book where the author thinks that “alright” is a legitimate word. Ugh. Like fingernails on a blackboard. But if I really, really like the story, I will tolerate those awful scraping fingernails.
Click through to read the whole thing if you wish.
But before you click away, is there any misuse-of-words thing that you WILL overlook, if you like the writing in other respects? Or are you even tougher than I am on things like that?