To Know It All

Dalaahn Sapuhn Mahndou Duk: to keep asking until one completely understands

On a superficial level, this idiom refers to a crack (mahn) running to the bottom (duk) of a pot (sapuhn).  However, the term mahn can also sound like the word for “ask.”  With the alternate meaning, the phrase then signifies someone repeatedly asking about something in order to fully comprehend it.

The desire to understand.

While querying, I’ve noticed agents also thirsting for this complete knowledge.  The traditional agent search follows certain rules, a step-by-step process from query letter to partial to full manuscript request.  The query letter is a written sales pitch tailored to a specific literary agent, highlighting the manuscript and the author’s credentials.  The partial involves a sample of writing, commonly the first three chapters.  The full manuscript, of course, refers to the whole work.

Recently, though, I’ve encountered a jump in the process.  Agents liking a query letter will skip straight to the full manuscript request.  Here’s a great post by Marian Vere about the topic. This change places even more emphasis on a stellar query letter.  As a writer, I find that the quick full manuscript request adds extreme tension by both getting your hopes up (you’re one step closer to acceptance) while prolonging the wait time (it takes much longer to read a full novel-length draft).

This new practice may prove quite helpful to both writer and agent.  Having the entire arc of the story shown enables the writer to fully display his or her creative talent.  It also lets the agent better evaluate the work as a whole.  After all, the ideal literary agent is one who fully understands your story, feels passionate about it, and champions it to publishers.

There is a slight parallel in the consumer world.  I have friends who also like this idea of complete understanding before buying a book.  They examine the first and last pages of a novel before making a purchase.  As for myself, I enjoy reading from beginning to end, watching the story unfold and waiting to be surprised by a satisfying resolution.

What experiences do you have as a writer or a reader in wanting to know it all?

The Animal Inside You


  1. I’m not an agent, but I’ve never understood requesting a partial when everything is electronic. If the agent doesn’t like it, they stop reading and no harm done. If they do like it, they don’t have to wait for the author to send more pages. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this trend continue in an attempt to save valuable agent time.

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