Monday, February 19, 2007

My Novel Is Done --AGAIN

I found out this week that one of the "big names" in Teen Vampire Romance Lit actually is an LDS woman who felt inspired to write her book--and said that it sounds odd to say that you were inspired to write about vampires.....

I know how she feels. But I was delighted to find yet another LDS woman writing because she felt compelled to--and getting an agent and selling her book. I am trying not to be discouraged that she found an agent with only 8 queries (and it was a big name agent, too), despite the fact that her book was 30,000 words too long. I've sent 25 queries or more. They say you have to send a minimum of 50 to find a single agent to represent you--if you're lucky.

I actually have two agents interested right now--one reading the first three chapters, and one waiting to because the first has them "on an exclusive basis" until the 21st or so. I'm getting cynical. I'm just waiting for the rejections. One of the previous rejections I got was with the comment that some agent would certainly pick it up IF I could "manage somehow" to cut it down and simplify it because it was "too long and convoluted." I tried to ignore it, but.....

I started poking around in my novel again and felt really strongly that I wouldn't be able to get an agent unless I cut the character Sirena and Kate's entire visit to the Ocean Realm. So I cut it. Three days later, I felt like a big chunk of stuff that I really like (all the catacombs stuff, everything about Tory almost, most of Tuck, all the ghost stuff, Bo Peep and Much the Miller's Son) should be deleted from this novel and used in the sequel.....So I cut and cut and cut some more.

THEN I realized most of the story was from Kate's point of view, so the whole Hansel-Gretel-Skins-Loopy Revenge subplot was distracting instead of enhancing. So I cut it out, too. It still happens--you just hear about it second-hand now.

Then I had to re-read to cut all references to the cut stuff, and to make Kate's travelling companion Tom instead of Tuck (this makes no sense to those of you who never read it......does it?). I also cut some stuff that dragged and that wasn't true to character (I thought I got all of that before!) and some stuff that didn't need to be said ("She grabbed the door knob, turned it, opened the door, and left the building" can be said, "She left."). And I'm a better writer than I was two years ago when I started the book, so I rewrote some paragraphs purely for artistic reasons (ME? Talking about artistic writing? Who would have ever thought).

And now the official word count is 139,000 words. Down from 214,000. The "acceptable" range for a first "fantasy" novel is 100,000-150,000 words, so this is now not out of the range. I can admit how long it is now. And I think the story is better. It certainly runs quickly through the action, keeping it so there are no lagging parts, and no boring parts. And it focuses on Kate's point of view, with just a few side-trips into witch-ville, which is the preferred way of doing things for many editors, I hear. But I cut enough to fill an entire full-lenght novel!

The thing that kept me cutting was JK Rowling, actually. Her last three books were not sufficiently edited. They would have been so so so much better 100-300 pages shorter, each one. I'm sure she was forced to cut tons of stuff out of book one to make it acceptable to a publisher--and it's a classic now. I can hardly make that claim about book five. It's 300 pages too long. I don't want people to say that about my books. They say it about Stephen King's stuff--he had to cut 400 pages out of The Stand before the editor would publish it. Tim read both versions and said the shorter version was far superior. So, not wanting to be accused to poor writing, I cut and cut.

It's been quite a journey, I'd say. I guess it's good the currently interested agents haven't gotten back to me. I'd like to send them the short version, the "new and improved" version. The one they can sell to editors. The one that I did manage to cut down and that is far far less convoluted and 30,000 words shorter than the version the agent read who made those comments. I suppose it was flattering that she said, "If you can possibly manage to cut it down" because that hints that nothing felt particularly superflous in the tale as it stood before. Maybe she was just trying to be nice. (You know, no men have looked at the book? Strange--I query men and women equally.)

I've learned a lot. I hope the book still makes sense.

This time, I think it might really be done. But I've said that, oh, six times now?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience