I'm curious if in general agents will always read the whole manuscript, or do you stop once you are sure it is not something you can represent or sell? For example when reading my manuscript did the lack of substantial plot in the first 50 pages stop you from reading any further? I have gotten a lot of feedback similar to yours, something like 'it’s a great voice but the story didn’t hold my attention well enough’ so I am curious if it is possible that no one, outside my Beta readers, got to the end of the book. I have some thoughts on how to fix the opening just wondering if no notes on the ending means no one got that far.
Also, would you ever consider reviewing a plot synopsis or outline for a fiction novel from a prospective client?
Usually I stop when I know I'm going to pass. Of the 50+ manuscripts I've read this year (so far) I read all the way to the end on about five.
There are two reasons for this. The first is time management. Reading a manuscript I know I am not going to take on means I'm not reading the next requested full on the list that might be a yes. I need to find yes, not critique the no.
The second reason is I like to keep fresh eyes. If a writer revises and asks to resubmit, generally I take a second look. If I haven't read the whole thing, there's a lot better chance the revision will be fresh and new to me. That's a good thing.
No notes on the ending means no one got that far. I read a book this week with an ending that left me screeching with frustration. You can bet that was in the notes!
And no, I'm not going to look at a plot outline or synopsis on an unfinished book from a prospective client. The hardest part of writing a book isn't coming up with a plot outline or synopsis. It's finishing the book and revising it to perfection. That's when you get my eyeballs. Not one nano-second before.
And boy howdy, the crushed hopes and dreams not to mention forlorn faces of people at writing conferences who ask me to do just that ("here let me tell you what the novel is about!") I don't do this
to be cruel and heartless (that's just a bonus.) I do this because I have blank spaces on my data base of requested fulls for the first years I was agenting when people sent me queries for half
If you're hearing a lot of nos to requested fulls you need an editorial assessment from an independent editor, or a writing class, or a writing conference.
Alternatively, pick up any of the myriad books on writing and see if there's something there that gives you insight. I just bought two copies of Save The Cat to send to writers with strict instructions to read about pacing.