Friday, July 16, 2010

Series Of Changes

I have decided that the easy part of writing a novel is to get the story down on paper (aka computer). The hard part is to prepare it for marketing. At least, that has been the case with Aurora Rescue.

I just wrote the story as it came to me without thought of word count. For one thing, when I first started writing, I could not conceive writing too many words for my story. I have edited this manuscript several times, and I still find misspells and phrases I want reworded. I was so proud when I got this thing from 148,000 words down to a word count of 106,635.

However, I have contacted several agents, and the rejections keep coming back. Me and my analytical mind keeps looking at the situation and asking, "What might be turning them off? Is it because I am new? Is it my writing style? Is it the plot or characters? What?"

So, back to the drawing board a little. After looking at several agents' Young Adult genre wants for "Edgy" YA, meaning, let's have some drugs, sex and abuse thrown into the plot, I thought of redoing the book more for the Middle-age/Tween market. When I started looking into guidelines, I found YA guidelines along with them. After going through several sources, I have decided this is still a Young Adult novel.

This is more of a futuristic urban fantasy/science fiction adventure story. It turns out that genre fiction for Young Adults, which is what this is, is a lot shorter than what I could get away with for an adult novel. Right now, it is an epic novel, very hard to market in the current publishing climate.

And, that is after I cut off the part I was going to originally write into this book. That section later was designated Book 2. Now it is Book 3, Aurora Recover. Why the change? Because, in order to fit my story into the YA genre guidelines of between 60,000 to 75,000 words, the Kezia story needs to be its own separate book--Book 2, Aurora Redress. (I chose that title to be a play on words for more than one purpose.)

Marty in the colonial world of 1748 and 1758 is enough for a stand-alone book. That is how I feel I need to rewrite it before I query any more agents.

I have already tentatively separated the two sections of the book. I had to rearrange some of the Cy and Lee Hardin chapters to make Rescue work. I am still toying with the idea of changing Marty's age to 16 and Cy's age to 17, making Eddie and Andrea closer friends of them both and maybe involving Marty's younger brother Jason more. I will think on that a bit. My biggest challenge will be to come up with a satisfying ending for a stand-alone book that will also allow me to use the closing scene as a jump-off for the next book.

Right now, without rewrites, I ended up with the new Aurora Rescue at 61,547 words--right in the ballpark. The Kezia section weighed in at 45,337 words, but there is a lot more I can do with that story.

So, I am beyond a quintology. If this group of stories gets sold, I have enough adventures planned, including a trip into a dystopian future, to make it a series.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bite the Bullet

I am going to have to "bite the bullet", as the expression goes, and fork over the money to buy Microsoft Word for my new laptop. Yes, you can open a Word document in Open Office. No, you can not transfer files interchangeably between the two programs and expect the formatting to hold.

I even tried to save my files in Rich Text Format, which both programs open, and still the formatting went all whacko. When I tried to correct it, I lost my paragraph indents.

So, now I am once again working on my full manuscript in Word, going back through it to not only edit excess, check spelling and grammar, etc., but to be sure all my paragraph indentations, quote marks and other formatting are where I want them.

All this transferring file formats back and forth--not to mention trying the copy and paste to and from the body of emails--has resulted in dropped letters and other anamolies. I know I have been through the first part of my manuscript--the part I need to send to agents--many times. Some of those errors that I worked on today are so obvious, I know I would have caught if they had been my typos. That was before all the file type and computer swapping. But, I fear, some of my sample pages have gone out with errors that will not doubt turn some agents off.


Some literary agents are agents because they love to read. Others, I get the feeling, are closet English professors who consider themselves the grammar and spelling police. Hopefully, my sample pages on which there are a couple of goofs due to my formatting problems of transferring Word files between RTF and Open Office will end up in the hands of the former kinds of agents who look more at the story and understand the little typos are the reason we have copy-editors.

Anyways, I am doing myself a favor and sticking to one version of one brand of software that will transfer text files cleanly from one computer to the other and will produce a clean Rich Text Format document that will copy cleanly into the body of an email. Time to go software shopping.

Oh, by the way, I am down to 107,104 words and not finished with this final edit.