I’ve occasionally referred to writing projects I’m working on. I’m writing novels. (Yes, that’s plural.) I’ve actually written two, each about 90,000 words, and one being a sequel to the other. I’ve done some half-hearted marketing with agents but I don’t think I’m ready for that yet, at least with these manuscripts. Not yet.
I’ve been collecting lots of information on agents, publishers, advice, etc., and I’ve been mapping out who I want to target. I know who my intended readership is. I’ve developed drafts of pitch letters and even tried out a few on various agents. Polite turn-downs, generally. But rejection is 99.9 percent of this business. And it is a business. Don’t ever think that book publishing is anything but a business.
So I read, study, ponder and write. I developed a whole series of ideas based on the first two manuscripts, and could continue the saga through several books. I’ve written extended treatments of all of them.
Lately, I’ve been working on a completely different manuscript from the earlier ones. It’s a contemporary novel about a family that’s torn apart and then gradually brought back together, at least partially, in spite of awful circumstances. The catalyst is a child. The characters have names like Sam, Danny, Rafe and Joanna.
Joanna didn’t start out as a main character. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to be a character. But she showed up at a Christmas tree lot, and I had to do something with her, because she wouldn’t go away. She’s now become a major character in the story, and a major part of the story. I had to go back and rewrite stuff to accommodate her, but not much, as it turned out. It was if the story had been waiting for her.
Sam, on the other hand, was the main character from the time the idea of the novel first entered my head. And he still is. But he’s gotten deeper and more complex than he started out. He’s picked up a kind of clipped accent. He became a carpenter. Through no fault of his own, he has a history that’s horrible and unjust, one that is never explicit and only imagined, but more real for the imagining.
There was another character who played a major role, and represented a whole section of the story. But then it made more sense to remove her and let the reader imagine what happened. She’s real, but she exists only in the reader’s (and writer’s) imagination now.
Interesting how the writing process works.
I’m about two thirds of the way to completion. I define completion of the novel the way the agents and publishers do – word count between 80,000 and 100,000. I’ve got about 62,000 words done. I know how it ends; I know what I have left to write.
This is the one I’m going to get aggressive with marketing to agents and publishers.