Saturday, August 13, 2011

Have a Heart

Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, writes in The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives that her manuscript was rejected by 59 literary agents before it was finally accepted!

She talks about her persistence (i.e. stubbornness) and multiple re-writes as she continually changed and shaped her manuscript. Wouldn’t you like to know what the 60th agent saw in the manuscript that the other 59 did not? Could it be that Kathryn changed and improved the manuscript over the years to the point where it was a different book?

Wading through my own first revisions, these are the questions that I ask myself.

Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue has advice that has truly resonated with me. “Don’t edit the heart out of your story.”

As I revise my manuscript, changing the heroine’s occupation and thus part of the setting, and adding and deleting secondary characters I am reminded to keep the original vision of my story intact. One of my biggest problems is that this is not the story that I felt driven to complete. I worry at times that it never had a beating heart to begin with.

This story is more or less an experiment. I belonged to a writer’s group last year which encouraged me to finish something. At the time I had three novels in different stages of completion. I chose to finish this book because I thought it would be ummm, the easiest to complete!

As I wrote, it was not my intention to even attempt to write The Great American Novel. I was quite pragmatic and decided to target a particular publisher, a “niche” publisher. I hoped it would fit nicely into that little sub-genre. Now I’m not certain.

Is it best to target a particular publisher, or to follow your heart and write the story that you’re passionate about?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Novel is Finished...now what?

An interesting thing happened on the way to finishing my first novel. I changed my mind. About a lot of "stuff" having to do with my protagonist. Still, I pressed on.

Then I finished it, and I don't like it. Oh, I DO like parts of it. But hey, if I'm not in love with the whole blessed thing, how can I expect anyone else to be? First revisions are going to be major. People weren't kidding when they warned me it's like an overhaul. I can see why.

By the time I'm done revising my protagonist, she will be unrecognizable. That is a good thing because somewhere along the way she turned into a whining "Poor me" victim instead of the strong and powerful woman I saw in my mind's eye.

Hold on, Maggie (that's my heroine's name), my red pen is coming!