Update on the Novel

First off, I logged another rejection. She was nice, said she read query and 10 pages with “great interest” and had to turn it down. I don’t know if it’s a form letter or not. Regardless, it prompted another two hour long session rewriting my query. I have two other finished (rough draft) novels that have synopsis and query finished. First try, hit it just right, felt great. It Gave Me a Name is turning into a monster of its own. Nothing is right. Perhaps, then, I’m being needlessly complicated with either the book, the query, or both.

Which brings me to the book. I wrote it, initially, as some kind of supernatural Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery pulled taut between actual magic practices and a man who questions his reality daily. I had fun characters interact, but left no space for much of their voices because my MC demanded so much time. The sad part of all this is, unfortunately, I’ve never studied Doyle. In fact I’ve rarely studied any single writer in great detail except Poe and Lovecraft.

So the reactions for this book one (I have since finished book two of the series) were mixed, but on the low end. The MC was too preachy, insecure, selfish. The climax was ultimately a cop-out. The information was complicated, complex, and poorly executed. In short, it was an experiment gone horribly wrong.

I’ve learned this after three rewrites and three years’ time looking at work–my own and others. I’m constantly improving as a writer. Unfortunately right now I’m also constantly regressing to an older writing style that was incredibly perfect. A style I eschewed for the sake of writing what the audience wanted. Apparently, I imagined the audience wanted a poorly designed, poorly executed book.

This rewrite is the slowest of all of them. Unlike the previous two, where I put band-aids over the scenes that were hurting the worst, I’m amputating and fertilizing (talk about a mixed metaphor). I’ve cut whole scenes out, I’ve added whole scenes in. My secondary is now following my MC like a puppy (or, should I say, apprentice). My MC is less emo, much less preachy. The “Bad Guys” are much more available. The plot is thickening. The ending will be entirely rewritten.

And I’m removing all those thematic ideas I wanted in the first place. My MC practices magic. Only this magic was, originally, based wholly on the real world. I’m the kind of writer that likes to make my fantasy a twist on reality, where everything is the same as this world except one thing. The smaller the better. It used to be that my MC could clearly see the dead and demonic: everything people suppose in real life, MC knows (if anyone has read it, Koontz’s Odd Thomas is similar). Due to this knowing the MC is mentally damaged and easily confused. He questions himself because he doesn’t know whether he’s truly seeing his dead girlfriend, whether he’s thinking about her and his mind created her image, or he’s looking in the eyes of a demonic shapeshifter. His magic worked because he believed it did, and he practiced such stringent mental exercise he could handle the constant flux of information. I ran the line of reality pretty tight.

Now, I added a part two: his magic works because it’s magic, and despite whether he believes in it or not, if he does it properly, says it properly, his magic works regardless. It’s easing the burden of writing this, I think, though I feel, in a different way, I’m selling out. Don’t get me wrong–I love writing magic. I have seven (unfinished) high fantasy books. I wrote my reaction to Harry Potter series. But this is supposed to be not so much magical realism, but realist magic. If that makes sense.

People might find it ridiculous how much science goes into what I write. Or they won’t even notice.

Anyway, stream-of-consciousness over, I’m on page 134 of 202 and making some very strong progress. I might rename it Secret Demon Secrets. Blah. Can’t get a straightforward anything from this book.

~x

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5 thoughts on “Update on the Novel

  1. I can’t believe that I managed to study Poe, Lovecraft and Doyle and somehow you missed Doyle. This really is a quandary to my brain. I was actually watching one of the older versions of Sherlock Holmes last night. “A Scandal in Bohemia” I was contemplating re-reading Doyle’s entire works; however, I don’t think it will fit into my schedule.

    Ah, on the topic of Koontz’s “Odd Thomas” series—I do like them, but could never really rate them as 5 star books. Should I be ashamed? The concept is there and of course so is Elvis, but for me the series has just been lacking in something. That doesn’t mean I’m not reading the one coming out this year though.

    Regarding your statement on science – Doyle nearly built everything about Holmes in and around science. Having read some of your previous entries I couldn’t begin to imagine your work without a vast amount of science/scientific knowledge and the like.

    Question: Are you enjoying the older style of writing and does it feel more true to your work?

    Simply wandering because the older style of writing; which I’m sure could come easily to you; I strongly feel (I might be the only one!) needs to make a comeback. Just throw rotten eggs at those that don’t! Shouldn’t authors be true to themselves when writing, instead of writing with the voice that the major populace wants?

    True to what I said in my own post, you make me think! I see that you already saw it and know that I passed on the Illuminating award to you – do what you will. I still felt the need to recognize you and your writing for making me ponder things over.

    Cat

    • My youngest brother’s reading all of the Holmes series. After I wrote this post, I remembered I studied Toni Morrison at great length, and Faulkner. They all have a Gothic vibe to their writing, if not overtly, then directly.

      I absolutely loved Odd Thomas, but that’s because of the simplicity of the thing. The directness, the voice of Odd. His coolness. I read some of Koontz’s other books, and they were dramatically different in every way. Totally unexpected. Very cool. But Odd Thomas misses what I’d need to feel inspired. The style is too dry (from the perspective of a burger flipper, how can I expect anything else?). IMHO

      To answer your question about the older style of writing–and I assume you’re talking about the quasi-gothic 19th century style of Poe and Lovecraft–I’m loving it for this project. I hope to do it justice.

      My “Mr. Roadkill” project, on the other hand, is the exact opposite style as this. Pop-culture addict waking to the real world. Haha

      Thank you very much for extending the award to me. I certainly don’t feel like I deserve it–I’m just writing what I feel might help someone in my shoes.

      Thanks for reading me. 🙂 ~x

  2. In regards to Faulkner I can agree with you since I read and researched him, however, Morrison, I’m not that familiar.

    Assumption correct, and I’m sure (I don’t quite know why, but I am) that you will do quite well in this older style of writing.

    I will continue to read your blog and am very excited to your books when they are published. Since I’m doing all my homework by following the journey to publication and success, could we arrange a signed copy? 🙂

    Cat

    • Morrison wrote Beloved. She’s a black woman that spent a lot of time expressing racial memory and Southern, slave-era American gothic.

      And, of course. I only hope the completed copy inspires you to review it. 😀

  3. Thank you for the info on Morrison. I’m considering reading one of her works. As for your book – I’ve already decided I want to review. All I have to do now is bide my time until it is finished. 🙂

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