Monday, September 03, 2007

Poison Spindle Problem: Draft 7567

I will never never never ever say my novel is finished ever again.

I got another rejection from a partial, but it was very positive, with specific positive comments (she said I have "witty dialogue."). I figured the rejection was coming because I rewrote the whole beginning of the novel. Not just revised. I actually threw away the first ten chapters or so and re-did the sequence of action, prompted by a realization that several key characters were behaving in a way that was inconsistent with their characters. I really like the new version and am getting positive feedback for the flow and "fun". I'm also not surprised by the rejection because I had queried the senior agent at one of the oldest agencies in the nation. They are well respected, and handle some very established, famous authors (like Steinbeck--THE Steinbeck). The fact that they'd even request the partial was HUGE. To get positive comments instead of a form letter is extremely flattering. The other reason I'm not surprised at the rejection is I now realize I write YA fiction, and this agent doesn't do YA. So that's the wrong fit anyway. But she was really nice.

So now I'm trying to weave the new and old together nicely and finding that some things ("discoursal animals" and who is Goldie anyway?) have to be put back in because they were inadvertently cut. However, Tom (the Piper's Son) is more prominent, and I really like him more and more the more I get to know him, and that solves the "where's the love interest" comment I got repeatedly from readers of early drafts. Kate ends up travelling with Tom through much of the book, and he makes a healthy foil to Ali Babba, surprisingly, even though one is an older, experienced thief and the other is an 18-year-old college student who wants to be a spy. It works, though. Now I have to fix the chapter numbers, though. I have no chapter 7 at all, and there are four chapter 12s in a row. That's what comes of repeated massive edits.

We're still marginally too long: 135,000 words, but I'm still cutting masses of information as I edit. I might actually get down to that "top limit of acceptable" of 120,000. Except the top acceptable limit for YA is about 85,000 words. So maybe I'll keep it at 135,000 words and sell it as two books of 75,000 or so each.

So the series of queries I've sent out and learned from have prompted many many rewrites, and the responses I get from the queries is encouraging. The first round were mostly nos up front; the second I got some reads out of and some comments; the next round I got more reads and more comments; now I'm gettting rejections with positive comments but "not right for me." So I'm hoping the next round with be several "I need to read more" with "hey, I can sell this book!" results. One would be enough. For the first time, though, I'm feeling like polishing the manuscript and then plastering the query all over--to all the agents that seem like a good fit at once, instead of 6-8 at a time. It's an interesting strategy. If the book is as good as I think it will be, I should be able to choose from several competing agents. If not, I've burned all my bridges at once and will have to start over with another novel and sell Poison Spindle second.

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