Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Off to Revision Boot Camp

Of the 62 queries I have systematically sent out since June of 06, so far (23) have generated positive replies leading to a review of partials and or the full manuscript, and (24) have resulted in flat out rejections of the query. I'm still waiting for replies to the remaining (15).

Though I can hardly complain about the interest my query letter has generated so far, for me it’s NOT about my query letter; it’s the accumulation of the rejections to the requests for partials and or the full manuscript that troubles me.

Rejections of various requested portions of the material break down as follows . . .

Full manuscript (2)
First 30-50 pages (9)
First 10 pages (4)
First 5 pages (2)
First 500 words (2)

Requests for materials that are still pending responses breakdown as follows . . .

Full (1)
Partials (3)

Understandably, the path to revision varies for every author, each of us reaching some sort of reality check at different points along the path to bringing our first novel length work of fiction into print. For me, that breaking point, that reality check, came last week when I received my ninth rejection on the first three chapters. It wasn't reaching the number of (9) rejections of the first three chapters that got to me, it was the fact that it was the first rejection I have received that actually sighted a specific weakness: pacing.

PACING is huge; it is a byproduct of a whole host of crafting points, and without a more specific breakdown of where the pacing is flawed, I have no idea where to focus. This very same selection of material--the first three chapters--also placed second in ByLine's Novel Beginning Contest, and I would think "pacing" was a major part of the criteria for judging.

In regards to this particular agent's comments, I also have to consider the differences in the pacing between literary women's fiction, mainstream and the romance genre. My manuscript draws on the strengths of the story telling elements of ALL three! That leaves me with the daunting task of trying to categorize it, and the even more difficult task of finding someone to help me categorize it.

I've come too close with my queries to merely wait around for the "right" someone to connect with the pacing and overall tone of my novel. Ultimately, I want my novel to connect, be accessible, to as many people as possible, because hopefully that will be reflective of the variety of readers my work will appeal to. But I have also exhausted my ability to remain objective about my manuscript.

After exploring my options--ranging from giving up on this first novel and moving on with my second, to seeking some expertly guided tweaking for it--I have decided on the following course of action . . .

Next week I begin a 12 week novel revision workshop with Nicole Bokat, author of What Matters Most and Redeeming Eve. Now all I need is a bit of luck, because I’ve got the hard work and determination part covered.

5 comments:

Tia said...

Good luck with the workshop. I went through similar problems with my first novel and I ultimately decided to give it up. Hopefully, you will be able to salvage your novel. Mine was beyond hope. But if yours already placed in a contest, then you must be close!

Diary of a Fiction Writer said...

Thank you, Tia. I do feel I can salvage my novel. Though it is my first, I've been writing for a long time, and I've had a good deal of success with my short stories and poetry. So I'm not ready to give up on this WIP. But even if that day comes, and I do have to make that decision, as you did, I know it will just serve as a stepping stone to build my next novel on.

I honestly feel that the very accomplishment of completing a novel, is nothing to ever feel hopeless about :-)

Tia said...

You are right, it was an accomplishment. And since it was a 230,000 word monstrosity, it was quite an accomplishment. However, it was time to give it up. I spent twelve years on it and it was still a bunch of cool events without a strong plot.

My second book, which I finished as well, has a plot. Now it needs a publisher!

Diary of a Fiction Writer said...

230,000 words, WOW!

Esmeralda Sable said...

That is a lot.