Nobody likes rejection, but like mosquitos on hot summer evenings, they're unavoidable. Agents rarely have the time to offer constructive criticism, so even though it stings, these nuggets can be valuable.
For example, one agent told me they liked the idea in the query (high five!), but the prologue didn't grab them (bummer). After pouting for a few moments, I took action. The prologue features a kidnapping and I made it too easy on the kidnapper. Oops. Stealing a child should be difficult. Readers, do NOT try this at home (or anywhere else.)
Without protest, Melody let the stranger carry her out of her bedroom and down the stairs. A middle stair fired off a loud CRACK and the stranger froze. Upstairs the child’s mother stirred uneasily in her sleep, registering the sound. A minute passed. By all rights, the child should have complained, or at least fussed a bit. Then the mother fell back into a deeper sleep and the stranger continued. They descended the last few stairs in silence.
Melody let the stranger carry her out of the bedroom. Before they reached the stairs, a floorboard fired off a loud CRACK.
Behind the stranger’s back, the master bedroom door lay open. Bedsprings creaked and squealed as Melody’s mother sat up. The stranger remained still as the woman pushed her legs over the end of her bed. If Melody’s mother turned even slightly to her right, she would see them.
Seconds passed. The stranger fought the impulse to turn around, the silence far worse than bedsprings. The child grew heavy and hot in the fleece blanket. She began to struggle.
A whimper arose beneath the black folds just as the mother hoisted her body off the bed and walked into the master bathroom. When the mother turned on the bathroom light, it clicked.
Gripping Melody tighter, the stranger hurried down the stairs.
What golden nuggets have agents left you?