Monday, May 14, 2012

If Margaret Mitchell submitted GWTW today


From: Today’s romance publishers
To: Margaret Mitchell
Regarding: Your submission, currently titled Gone With the Wind


Dear Ms. Mitchell:


Thank you for the opportunity to review your Civil War novel. We regret that we must take a pass on the book at this time. However, since you are an excellent writer, we are happy to take the time to make suggestions in the hope that a revision would be more likely to meet with a positive response from publishers and readers.


We find that the era for saga novels has passed, because readers today have a much shorter attention span. In its present form the novel is far too large and unwieldy, and we suggest that you think hard about which story you are most interested in telling. Right now there is far too much war and too many potential heroes for the story to be a romance. Honestly, does Scarlett really need to collect every man she meets? 


Perhaps you’ll want to consider dividing the experiences which you have given to Scarlett among the three O’Hara sisters and creating a trilogy. We have found that trilogies about sisters sell well in today’s publishing climate. This would allow you to deal with each story at a more manageable length and create a true romance with each sister having her own hero. (Of course, sell-through figures on the first book would determine whether the second and third were of interest to the publisher.)


We find that our readers do not respond well to Civil War settings, so perhaps you would find it an inviting challenge to re-envision the novel as a Regency, set in England against the background of the Napoleonic Wars. Rhett would be a natural as a rakish earl, and Scarlett might be the spoiled daughter of a duke. We suggest modifying his signature line to "Frankly, Lady Scarlett, I don't give a damn."


You might also consider strengthening the paranormal elements which already exist in the story (you have hinted that Scarlett is something of a witch).


Furthermore, we don’t understand your title, and since there doesn’t seem to be a single wind metaphor in the entire novel we suggest renaming the book The Southern Rebel Blockade-Running Rake’s Gold-digging Bride.


We hope that you find our comments useful and that you are eager to tackle this revision with an eye to strengthening your story and possibly making it saleable. These suggestions, of course, should not be interpreted as an indication that we would actually buy the book if you revise it along the lines we have suggested. 


Yours sincerely,
The Editors


(My thanks to the students in my Gotham Writers Workshop Master Class, who contributed ideas and enthusiasm to this project.)

18 comments:

  1. This was brilliant and hilarious. I SOOO needed a laugh this morning. Thank you. :)

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    1. Happy to help with that deadline pressure, Anita!

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  2. LOL I LOVED the title change!! But oh my goodness, it really makes you think, doesn't it... what WOULD have happened to it today?

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  3. Yep, I agree with the previous comments. VERY funny rejection letter. But at least Scarlett does get to kiss Rhett. Shows the American writers knew to put a little heat into a book even then. I don't remember any of the Jane Austen's characters actually kissing in the books. Seems to have been added into the recent movie versions though.

    So...what other romantic classic could we analyze in the form of an editor's rejection letter? Rebecca, perhaps? It certainly was the first romance that I ever read that combined a romance with a ghost story. :D

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  4. Giggle, giggle. I LOVED this post! It's funny because it's SO true!

    CW :)

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  5. Leigh--I love how you brought our most recent class discussion to life with this satirical rejection letter. But what makes it most funny to me is it seems very likely it would happen to Ms. Mitchell today!

    Lisa

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  6. Ha ha ha! I especially love the suggestion that she change the location and time period. So funny!

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  7. That was wonderful! I'm trying to imagine Scarlett's trademark phrases with a British accent. LOL

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    1. And probably Rhett's "Frankly, my dear" wouldn't end with "damn" but with the f-word...

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  8. Wouldn't Rhett have to be the duke? And Ashley, too, so it could be the Dueling Dukes?

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  9. OMG, Leigh, that sounds quite similar to the letters I got re Once A Warrior! (Not that I'm equating OAW with GWTW, mind, but still ...) Great post.

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  10. Awesome, and I bet you're not too far from the truth. LOL!!

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  11. Too funny, Leigh! Thanks for giving voice to the feelings every writer experiences whenever those rejection letters come. The comments about what sells in today's market give voice to my musings that if we submit what is selling, where is the room for creative absolutely new ideas?

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  12. That is so funny but most likely the truth! I wonder if Margaret did get a lot of rejection letters at first....

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  13. Surely BILLIONAIRE Southern Rebel Blockade-Running Rake's Gold-Digging Bride?

    Thank you for that. A hoot.

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  14. But of course! How could I have missed that one, Jenny? :)

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