Thanks so much for sending us your synopsis and what, according to our submissions policy, (readily available on our website) should have been the first three chapters of your book.
Unfortunately, I stopped reading after the first line. Virginia, I am not sure if you realise that a first line is crucial. It must engage the reader and pull them irresistibly into a story. The first sentence of your novel would appear to be, ‘Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.’ Ask yourself, what does this sentence achieve? Does it engage? Does it intrigue? Does it conjure a landscape that a reader might long to inhabit? Or does it convey a mere whimsical inconsequentiality? What do we learn of Mrs Dalloway that would interest anyone other than a person gripped by some kind of floristry-based obsession?
Added to this, the fact that you have employed a rather juvenile tactic in order to circumvent the usual submission requirement of three chapters, by opting apparently not to have ANY chapters at all, and on that basis submitting the WHOLE of your novel, did you no favours at all.
I do not know whether you are unfamiliar with the concept of the synopsis, but I can assure you that thirty close-written pages outlining the thoughts of your main character really don’t fit the bill. Even two pages, I’m afraid Virginia, are almost too much for a busy editor these days. We need to know, at a glance, whether you have a story, if it is the right shape, that the characters have arcs. We need to see that you have hit all the plot points and have a satisfying denouement, preceded by a gripping climax, obviously.
The premise of your novel is sound enough; the idea of your main character Mrs Dalloway, preparing mentally and physically for an evening party which many of the important people in her life, will be attending, including the Prime Minister, has great potential. But what do you do with this? There is little sense of pacing or rising jeopardy. In short, nothing, but nada, appears to happen.
Forgive me, but how Mrs Dalloway evades arrest as she wanders aimlessly through London Streets, darting back and forth between the past, present and future, I really don’t know. You, Virginia, appear to be equally lost, unable to decide on your narrative style, switching from omnicient description, interior monologue, and even, egads, soliloquy. Please Virginia, you must think of your marketing demographic.
I think you would do better to drop this ‘stream of consciousness’ thing, that you constantly bang on about in your accompanying letter and concentrate instead on STRUCTURE. Don’t forget, SOMETHING MUST HAPPEN ON EVERY PAGE, not just a lot of waffling about Big Ben chimes, sugared almonds and a kiss exchanged with another girl. BTW, I think you are missing a trick by not bigging up the lesbian potential of Sally Seton. After all, if kissing Sally Seton was the happiest moment of Mrs Dalloway’s life then she really ought to come out, don’t you think? ; quite possibly at the party.
Think less, ‘stream of consciousness’ and more ‘Downton’. Imagine that Julian Fellowes, (temporarily deranged by an excess of champagne cocktails and Beluga caviar), had fox-trotted across his croquet lawn and taken a header into his aristocratic haha, thus incapaciting his writing genius, and YOU were asked to write your party scene as a culminating episode of this lucrative soap opera. You could have Mrs Dalloway kissing Sally Seton brazenly in front of the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Peter Walsh kissing the Prime Minister, implicating the government and even minor members of the Royal family in a scandal, eventually embroiling the entire country in a constitutional crisis. Now that’s a party scene. Think of the American serial rights!
I hope I have given you food for thought.
I am sorry that we were unable to help you on this occasion and I wish you the best of luck.