Saturday, October 12, 2013

It Only Took 5 Years?

Learning has come full circle for me. I guess I'm slow, but, as the cliché goes, I'm sure.

Five years ago, I wrote a manuscript with this tagline:


She’s addicted to overeating.

      He’s compelled to control her.

      But only God has the power to provide

                                        LIBERTY

                                            For

                                              LACEY

At the ACFW conference in 2008, I pitched this story to an agent and a publisher. Their responses were helpful, but the takeaway was that it wasn't ready for prime time.

I pitched it as an inspirational romance.

"What's your main character's goal?" the publisher asked.

"To overcome her compulsive overeating and prove she isn't insane like her dad."

"Then, it's not a romance, it's a women's fiction."
PROBLEN NO. 1 - wrong genre

"We only publish romance."
PROBLEM NO. 2 - wrong publisher

NOW, I'M WISER.
I pitch it to the agent.

"What's the length?" he asked.

"60,000 words."

"Too short for women's fiction."
PROBLEMS NO. 3 - wrong length

The agent read my ten pages, and gave good feedback. I'll always be grateful for that.
He said, "Either, change the goal to hero and heroine finding love and publish it as a romance, or add 20,000 more words, and keep the same goal."

I prayed and made a decision.

Going through the entire work another several times, I added more drama, fleshed out scenes better, and took scenes from flashbacks to active time. Much better. Then I deleted unnecessary words. I was left with:
66, 000 words

In my inexperience, to add 14,000 more words, I needed another whole subplot, so I gave a fourth character three POV chapters. Now, I had it.
a little over 80,000 words

I pitched it several times after that without success, so I laid it aside.

In summer, 2012, 4RV Publishing released my debut novel. Then, in Dec., 2012, Pen-L Publishing released my devotion book for overeaters. I decided that would team up nicely with my fictional heroine who struggles with overeating, so I pitched it to Pen-L and started the process of rewriting the old story.

Thanks to five years of online courses, reading books, going to ACFW Conference, Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Conference, and OWFI conference, I stored up a wealth of writing helps. During this period, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. I read many books in my slow-reader style. In September, 2013, I attended the Immersion with Margie Lawson which improved my skill at putting the reader into the story and revving up the emotional impact.

I rewrote all fifty chapters. By the time I finished, the manuscript was 96,000 words.

PROBLEM NO. 3 repeated - wrong length
Only this time, it's too long.

I prayed and made a decision.

With my five years of studying, now I realize that I need to delete the extra POV chapters for the secondary character, and rewrite what happens in the hero's POV.

So, what did I learn in 5 years?

Go full circle. I don't require more characters.

SOLUTION TO ALL PROBLEMS - deepen the emotion in your story

6 comments:

Lisa Belcastro said...

Loved this story behind the story. And I'm intrigued by the main character. Looking forward to reading it. :-)

Laurean Brooks said...

Sheesh, Janet. This sounds like some of the same things I go through. Like you, I am still learning where to cut and where to add. Thank you for the tip:

"Deepen the Characters' emotions." I will remember that.

Moonine Sue Watson said...

Since I am in your critique group, I have seen you work through this process. I love the final product. You have worked very hard to put out a wonderful book. It's great for you to share this with other writers.

Janet K Brown said...

Thanks, Lisa. I hope to get a contract to publish it. It looks promising.

Janet K Brown said...

Yes, Laurean, it does take lots of learning. Until it's published, I keep cutting & adding.

Janet K Brown said...

Thanks, Sue, for the compliment. I guess I'll always struggle, but it's worth it. You sure have been a help.