Tuesday, May 8, 2012

If the Bible Was Still in Manuscript

It's long been my contention that if the Bible was a new work of fiction instead of the old work of fiction it really is and trying to pass muster with other unpublished properties, it wouldn't cut the mustard. On account of the mass murder, rapine, persecution, homophobia and batshit insane contradictions, so much would have to be edited out that we'd be left with the first page of Genesis, the Song of Solomon and little else. Generally, it'd either be ignored by literary agencies or dismissed with form rejection letters. But if it were to get an in-depth rejection letter, this is what it would sound like.

Dear Authors:

We appreciate the look at your work, The Holy Bible. After long and careful consideration, we regrettably decline to offer representation of this property. While time constraints forbid our going in depth as to why we pass on projects, we'd decided to break with our longstanding policy because we felt this work deserved further commentary. What follows are some of our reasons for passing on your project.

First off, while fiction such as this might've been placed and even sold in a less politically-correct day and age, the incessant images and glorification of mass murder, misguided retribution, homophobia, misogynism and Dominionism makes it unfit for a more sophisticated and sensitized latter day readership. Take, for instance, the beginning of your book, Genesis, in which Cain slaughters his brother Abel. Fratricide is a theme that's been done to death (no pun intended) and there is no rational motive as to why Cain killed Abel. Plus, since there are only three other people in your Garden of Eden, it miserably fails to inspire Coleridge's "suspension of disbelief" if you intended on writing a murder mystery. Plus, with two men (father and son) and only one woman, that means the human population would have to be perpetuated through incest, which would make it pornography appealing to a very small niche readership and we do not represent erotica much less niche erotica.

Secondly, we'd have to reject it for other genre-based reasons. It appears as if you'd written this in an almost purely allegorical way. But by insisting on writing in metaphor, you're making this into a fantasy and this agency doesn't represent fantasy. I refer you, for instance, to your "Exodus" chapter re the burning bush, Moses parting the Red Sea and Aaron's staff turning into a snake and eating the other snakes. Likewise Lot's wife and the 10 plagues which, on a purely visual basis, is mildly interesting. As a conceit of fantasy, however, these 10 plagues can follow one another scientifically, rendering the fantastic aspect null and void. For a better idea of how uplifting and engaging fantasy can be, read J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Thirdly, if written as a moral text, there are troubling inconsistencies and an extremely disproportionate inversion of priorities. Take, for example, your character Onan, who was smited by your major protagonist (antagonist?) for masturbation. Your Leviticus chapter was especially unbalanced from a purely mental and emotional health standpoint, as it endorses similar smiting of homosexuals, touching the skin of a pig, planting two different crops side by side and simultaneously wearing two different fabrics. Meanwhile, your protagonist/antagonist God gets to smite others both individually and on a massive, global scale for what are today considered minor offenses. If you wish this book to be believable and authoritative as a moral tome, you need to excise the hypocrisy.

Not only that, the human supporting characters are never any match for God, Lucifer, Michael the Archangel and other empowered major characters. In order to achieve dramatic tension, there must be some level of parity and soluble conflict in order to make your fiction engaging.

#4, if this is intended to be written as a science fiction novel, we once again have to remind you that we do not represent sci-fi/speculative fiction. We appreciated the UFO sighting in the Ezekiel chapter but better books in the UFO subgenre have been written by Whitley Streiber and others.

#5, on a more abstract plane, every agent in this agency feels that there are absolutely no sympathetic or likable characters save one and that is Jesus Christ in the second half of your book (i.e. The New Testament). While this saintly community organizer has admirable intentions (e.g. healing the sick, accepting no repayment for good deeds, feeding the poor and hungry, etc), we feel this character would be either rejected or ignored with a more conservative readership that is opposed to what they would consider Socialist behavior. Unfortunately, as we'd just said, this renders null and void the possibility of keeping your Jesus character in any fair copy of this work.

Plus, the fact that you offer four different but virtually identical accounts of the life of this Jesus character automatically makes three of them redundant.

In summation, publishing your book (loftily described with great hubris, I'd like to add, as "the greatest story ever told") in its present form would require so many excisions and edits that we'd be left with the first page or two of Genesis and perhaps the Song of Solomon (magnificent poetry, granted, but, as with all other literary agencies, we do not represent poetry). The realities of the publishing business being what they are, properties by pre-published authors have to be camera-ready and your work, The Holy Bible, is not even remotely fit for public consumption, At the very least, it would be a fruitless, uphill battle to place it with a publisher.

Please pick a genre and stick with it then place it with an agency that represents that genre. As it is, we rep mainly fiction and nonfiction that has a mainstream appeal and your work is so confused in its focus and so out-of-step with political correctness that its inherent moral repugnance would render it unfit for publication by any reputable publishing company outside of Threshold.

Sincerely yours,

etc etc.


At May 8, 2012 at 9:58 AM, Blogger TroubleCominEveryday said...

Did I tell you that you are going straight into hell

At May 8, 2012 at 3:20 PM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

JP, you should get a job as a literary agent. You know how to refuse everything!

At May 8, 2012 at 3:32 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

The problem with that, Comrade, is I'm allergic to scum.


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