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.