Friday, December 18, 2009

This Ramblin' Man Wakes Up

Just like Waylon Jennings. I'm doing a lot of running around right now: road trips, head trips- you name it. My mind has been on autopilot for some time now and yesterday, while browsing in the book store in my usual mental nothingness, something hit me in the back of the head. Hard. It was my ego. It was telling me to get off my ass and get to work. You've let that pile of paper and that flash drive, eat at you and fester long enough.

Part of this revelation, was the result of the query letter. That's right, the query letter. I was taking another look at it and I realized that it just never looked quite right. But why? It's because my book has a main plot and several sub-plots and they are all critical to the story. I could never get this across in a brief query. In fact, I learned something important and that is maybe you, the aspiring writer, should write the query for your novel at the beginning of the process. It's a quick way to find out if what you'll be writing makes sense. If you're at a sticking point, it might be worth a shot.

My rejection slip said something to the effect of: "The plot is not all that believable and at least two of the three characters, need better descriptions." Like I said, to the effect of, but not exactly. Ive been stewing over those words and now I see what they mean. I need to fully cement which plot is the main plot and then back it up to the hilt. It needs the same attention, that I've been giving towards the emotional makeup of the characters. That equals just short of a ton and is a critical point I've been missing.

In terms of characters, I know I can do better after letting the work sit and now re-evaluating the first few chapters. One of the three main characters, and the main character at that, is ambiguous. We're not supposed to know that much about him, not supposed to know how we feel about him. But do I put that out there in the opening pages, for people to get that picture of him from the word go? I mentioned their mental makeup, but what about these characters as living, breathing people? Answer: I dropped the ball in that department, but can easily fix it.

I've just printed out the first six chapters. Over the break, instead of trying to interject small pieces to the original, I'm going to write a new alternative beginning. I'm going to re-think and then re-work the plot(s). I'm going to write as many word as it takes (I'm at nearly 83k right now), to get it all across and then I'll begin stripping out anything that is not useful. Along the way, I'll interject the feedback I get from a few trusted and unbiased souls.

Stay tuned.


  1. Nice post Mike with a couple of pieces of good advice. I've just been concentrating on short pieces at the moment (shaking the cobwebs loose after years of hardly writing at all) I intend to read through what I have written of a novel over the christmas break and will write the query before adding to my novel.

    Keep going Mike and thanks for a great post. All the best to you and yours for christmas and 2010...

  2. Thanks David and hopefully we'll hear more about your novel.