Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A rejection?

I got a 'not perfect yet' letter from the agent who had asked me to revise and resubmit. It didn't specify, though, whether it was a further 'revise and resubmit' or an outright rejection, but it did include detailed comments and suggestions.

Comments and suggestions that lead me to believe the agent is looking for the next 'Twilight' (a paranormal romance.) And why shouldn't she be? It's a massive hit.

But it's a massive hit because nobody had done it before.

The comments she gave, honestly, were sound. But, unlike last time, they didn't drive me to my computer to open the file again.

I think part of it is that she seems to be looking for a romance with fantastic elements, where I wrote a fantasy with mystery and romance elements. Now, if someone said, "This is great, can we rewrite to make the mystery more of the focus?" I might bite. But for some reason I don't feel inclined just now to really play down the complexities that are left in the plot and really play up the relationships, although I completely agree in some ways that 'deepening' the relationship between Kate and Tom would make the book more satisfying.

Maybe the problem is I don't know how to do that.

Maybe the problem is that a fantasy is, characteristically, more complex in plot, more sweeping in action, and less focused on intimate emotional feelings in the characters that don't play directly into the action.

The agent also still has the impression that I personally don't have a real grasp of my own plot. This must be a flaw in the storytelling because I think I do have a firm grasp of the plot--I can summarize the 350 page book into a couple of paragraphs easily--and probably into one sentence if I need to, which you can't do if you don't have a grasp of the plot.

Maybe the 'problem' is that I have a couple of intersecting plots (or up to 3 or 4, depending on how you look at it--which characters you want to focus on), and the depth in the story comes from the collision of those plots and of those characters' realizations about themselves. I could easily remove the subplots and focus on Kate (not that I don't already), but the entire story would suffer because Ali Babba's, Beauty's, and Tom's stories are what let us see the real development in Kate.

Perhaps I should take the conglomerate of the comments as "Still a little confusing and intellectual".

Unfortunately, the sticking point for everyone who has read it was the joy for me--the complexity and mass of information that it's possible to include. The essence of the story is what would a smart, literate girl from 21st century Provo experience if she met the (oft-maligned by academia but idolized by little girls everywhere) characters from the fairytales? And its corollary: what would happen if a fairytale character and her problem were transferred to modern-day America? These are the two stories that collide in the novel--but that very exploration has been seen as confusing (too many fairytales!) by many people.

Oh, and she said there's too much dialogue with information that Kate could just think to herself, the way it happens in real life. Funny--I've been praised by other agents for the dialogue, and also have really had a hard time 'verbalizing in her mind' her thinking because I don't think that way. I don't realize things in my head--instead, I get an inkling and then have to talk it out to really get to the 'realization' stage. So I might need to smooth all that out in the text someday.

So I've come to the conclusion that one of two things will happen: I will re-expand this book into a 3-5 book series, so that you get it slower and feel less like you got avalanched (and I can put back a lot of cool stuff I had to cut), or it will be my second or third novel published because it's just too much of a risk for a publisher to take an unknown author and publish something that is at once clean as a whistle and intellectually complex. I guess, overall, it's just not 'there' yet.

Any way I look at it, though, I don't feel inclined to open the book again. So I'm going to put the letter aside for a few weeks or a few months and look at it and the novel with fresh eyes another day. Or year.

Maybe I'm just waiting to hear back from the other agent who has it still--fully expecting a form rejection but hoping for something more positive.

Meanwhile, I'm learning a lot about plotting in the clues for a mystery--and how much knowing the minute details of the ending play into the formation of the clues and plot up to that ending.

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