Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rejections and other trauma

Last fall I got another rejection on my completed mystery novel, but this time it was a good 'un. Honest, it was. The editor said my writing is "strong and clean," and the story is "close to being right." However, the changes he suggests will take a major rewrite.

I believe him when he says my focal character isn't driven enough, although I specifically built her that way because of the psychological trauma she's endured. And yes I know readers want focal characters who move the story rather than being moved by it. I envisioned this one as being isolated, avoiding conflict...and yes, passive. That's how I believe a person might become, reacting to the trauma my character lived through. But if the market dictates different, then darnit that's what I'll give 'em. Somehow I hope to be able to keep her true to her past but more what the market requires.

Anyway, all this to say that normally I'd have started rewriting immediately. This time I haven't. Of course, I have a good excuse. Many years ago I found a writing book that became my bible: Dwight Swain's Techniques of a Selling Writer. He boils down the pertinents of writing so succinctly and so readable and his techniques work so well that I've focused all my energies on following them.

My excuse? I lent my book to a friend a while back. Actually I think I gave it to him. So I decided that before I set my shoulder to re-writing I ought to buy another copy and remind myself of Swain's techniques. That's what I'm doing now.

I find the time to read a few pages before bed each evening. It's like opening a chest in the attic to find treasures you forgot you stored there.

I may not get this book rewritten in time for the editor to even remember his crit, but regardless I feel when I do start my revisions/rewriting, I'll be better prepared.


JMS said...

I gotta say (and please don't take this the wrong way) but at least you have a finished manuscript to GET rejected! I can't even FINISH mine! So frustrating! I hate being stuck.

Good luck with those re-writes.


TexNan said...

Try Swain, Jennifer. He's dated but wonderful.