Monday, October 26, 2009

Once More With Feeling

What exactly does "not immediate" mean?
I'm guessing you got that in a rejection letter. I would take it as meaning the editor wasn't feeling your manuscript in some important way-- whether it was not feeling the tension or not feeling a connection to the main character (or maybe something else). One way or another, you weren't convincing this particular reader that there was something meaningful at stake in your story.

Always bearing in mind that this editor may not be representative of your true readership, I would take this as a chance to ask yourself if in fact you are feeling the high stakes of the story you've written, or if you've only put the stakes into the plot without putting them into the telling.

12 comments:

Ash. Elizabeth said...

Your header reminded me of the buffy musical, but anyway I've never gotten those words. When I do though, I'll know what they mean. Thanks.

Thomas Taylor said...

This reminds me to check my own writing once again.

Anonymous said...

"not immediate"="feels mediated" ?

weird turn of phrase.

Anonymous said...

Lack of immediacy generally boils down to a psychic distance problem. Check out John Gardner who said “By psychic distance we mean the distance the reader feels between himself and the events in the story.” (from The Art of Fiction) Gardner goes on to explain how different sentence construction can push the psychic distance back or draw the reader in and make him feel an immediate part of the story.

Paul Greci said...

I think it's the difference between being able to know how a character is feeling as opposed to being able to feel how that character is feeling.

Cam Snow said...

I personally think some of the best novels are those that are either ones that closely resemble the author (e.g., Bukowski's Women) or ones where the author wants to be the main character (anything written by John LeCarre).

Cam Snow said...

Ah the rejection letter - I've gotten so many of these for non-fiction.

I can't wait to get my first one for my new novel!

GhostFolk.com said...

Immediacy?

I take it as a technique problem, too. A writing teacher once said that "Plot is What Happens Next."

I silently disagreed. I thought, instead, "Plot is What Happens Now." That's immediacy, were I to use the word about writing.

Errant Knave said...

Awesome. Another thing to check my manuscript for.

Anna said...

The Method approach: Could the problem be that you are trying to write from the outside in? That is, deciding that your character has x personal qualities and then making Character say and do things to express those qualities -- rather than really feeling who your character is so that everything s/he says and does expresses that self.

The Novelist said...

Cam Snow,
Your comment made me laugh!

ae said...

These are the kinds of books that make and/or made an impact on me as a reader. They hit a nerve and/or tickle a funny bone, and linger.

It is writing from the inside out with one's own feelings and remembrances and connections to one's own childhood.