I’m currently faced with a decision. To keep agent hunting with my MS in its current form, or to overhaul the MS and see what happens. Technically I’ve only been rejected from four agents, which isn’t bad and two of them were not form rejections, which is better than when I first started trying to get Death’s Daughter published but still, I’m tossing up in my mind whether I need to go back and refine the work or whether to give a few more agents a try.
I guess what it is going to come down to is whether or not I actually think I can make the MS better than it is. One of the comments I received was that the beginning felt a little generic and so there is the question of whether I can change the beginning and make it better. If the answer is yes, then I should. However, I started sending the MS out because at the time I thought I had reached the limit of what I could do without further guidance and I was happy with how the story worked.
Before I send out another submission I will definitely be re-reading the MS, particularly focusing on the opening. I will probably make minor changes (just because I never read anything I’ve written without changing something), though I may be facing another round of rewrites.
At the end of the day, I can only do what I can do. As long as I’m happy I’ve put my best effort out into the world, things will be alright.
How do you know when you need to revise more? How do you decide your MS is ready?
In other news, if you missed the start of the tour:
Join me on the 7th on Sonya Clark’s blog.
Cat Woods recently shared a post called Strap On Your Writing Helmet and she related the story of her son who is too afraid to try riding his bike. She then linked this to her own fear of sharing her writing with the world for fear of rejection or even fear of success.
I could definitely relate to this feeling.
Other than my close friends, I don’t tend to share my writing with many people. Even my friends have to wait until I’ve tidied the draft sufficiently that I don’t want to dig a hole and hide in it while they read. Making the decision to try to get Death’s Daughter published was absolutely terrifying. Knowing that the worst thing that could happen would be rejection didn’t really help. In the end, it was up to me to decide that I wanted to share this story and if that was what I wanted then I needed to push the fear aside and try to make it happen.
Amazingly, rejection didn’t kill me. It didn’t even metaphorically kill me. A form rejection letter has limited sting because it isn’t a personalised attack. A more complete rejection with reasons why my manuscript was returned became a valuable tool for improvement and could have been considered a fairly positive step.
Then the book was picked up and I was terrified again. What if I couldn’t finish the edits and rewrites? What if I stuffed it all up?
Then it was released. What if no one likes it?
I could panic and moan and fall apart thinking of all the what if’s in the world but at the end of the day I have to be pretty happy with how things are going. I finished the novel, which was a huge achievement. I refined the novel, which probably took way too long and I really need to work on that. I found a publisher and I had my novel published.
I’m not going to lie and say that I am fearless and everything will be all breezy and easy from here on in. That is a complete lie. I’ll continue to worry and second guess myself forever. It is part of who I am. But I’m not going to stop writing and I’m not going to avoid rejection. The only way forward is to move forward.
Thanks Cat for this very inspiring post.
I’m joining in with Jangu Mandanna’s (from Echoes of a Wayward Mind) Character Interview Blogfest.
The character I’ve decided to interview is Emily from Death’s Daughter. Emily was a butler working for the Delaine’s. After the death of Mrs Delaine, Calandra dismissed Emily from her services. (There are no plot spoilers in the following as the events discussed are either early in the story or do not appear within Death’s Daughter.)
Q: Emily, can you briefly describe your role in the story?
A: I worked as a butler for the Delaine household in Kalthium. Mr Delaine hired me and I continued my work until after the death of Mrs Delaine.
Q: How do you feel about the way Calandra has told this story?
A: How do you think I feel? Miss Calandra Delaine is a thoughtless, selfish, child. Certainly she’s used this opportunity to justify her choices and her treatment of those around her but we all know her for what she is.
Q: So you would disagree with the way Calandra has portrayed the situation at the beginning of the story?
A: Naturally. I was there, wasn’t I? Calandra was always looking down her nose at me and thinking she was all high and mighty and meanwhile she’s breaking her mother’s heart while she plays around with her dusty scrolls. So what if she could read? And then she’s glorifying her father. Her father ran off to sea and left poor Mrs Delaine to clean up the mess he left behind – and by that I mean an over indulged child that never could see things the way they were.
Q: How did you feel when Calandra dismissed you from her services?
A: Well, that was a bit of good luck in the end. As angry as I was at the time it all worked out for the best. Besides, I don’t think I could have stomached working for Miss Calandra Delaine, even if I’d wanted to stay in the house. And despite our personal disagreements, Calandra did give me a very good recommendation so when my sister found an open position with Lord and Lady Serrite it was easy enough for me to take up that position. As much as I dislike Calandra, she was fair in her statements about my service. Can’t hold that against her.
Q: In Death’s Daughter, Calandra states that you accused her of killing her mother. Do you think she murdered her mother?
A: At the time, I think I did. It was quite a shock to the household and given the tension between Calandra and her mother it seemed very possible that she had. Thinking back now, I don’t know what I think about the murder. It is all a bit of a blur and I don’t know that anyone really knows what happened. Calandra has given us one version of the events and I don’t doubt that she’ll be taken at her word, but gossip will certainly continue for sometime.
Q: Final question – Do you believe the rest of Calandra’s story?
A: Far be it from me to call someone a liar, but the tale is just a little bit fanciful. Certainly things have been a bit strange in Kalthium but to believe that there are gods running around and mysterious forces, it’s all just a bit far-fetched.
Character, plot and setting.
All three are vitally important to the story. Usually I like to focus on character but today I think I’m going to have a quick look at plot.
Plot is one of those tricky things because you would think, to make a plot interesting, that is needed to be fresh and new and complex and twist and turn and all of those other splediferous (yes, I know it isn’t a real word) things plots can do. Yet simple is sometimes much better.
So many times you read the advice that you should be able to explain what your story is about in a single sentence. An entire novel boiled down to one sentence that explains the whole point for the story. For Death’s Daughter this caused me no end of headaches because I didn’t figure this part out before I wrote the story. I wrote the story and then asked what it was about would rattle off a bunch of things that Calandra (my protagonist) did but I didn’t really get to the point. What I finally came up with was this:
A girl, cheated of her chosen destiny by forces beyond her understanding, must find a way to end a war between gods and discover the truth about who she is.
Once I knew this about the story, I could see how I had distractions and how some of the sub-plots weren’t working and I just found it much easier to work through the story because I knew exactly what the story was about.
Keeping in mind how much easier working with plot was once I knew what the plot was meant to be, I decided that for my next project I would start out with a simple statement of what I wanted the story to be and work from there. Admittedly, I haven’t even finished the first draft and I already know that what I decided the main point of my story was, isn’t. I’ve gone down a totally different track at this point but I know that once I finish this draft, I will be able to say in a single sentence what the point of my story is and I’ll be able to edit with that in mind.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on plot and how you go about crafting one.
Not for long though. I’m getting sent out of town for a week for some professional development and I don’t know what my internet access is going to be like. I’m hoping to post a few times during the week but if not, I’ll be back in a few days.
Until I get back, I’d like to leave you with the trailer to Death’s Daughter – it is a little rough but it is a start. If you can’t hear the sound, you may need to turn up the volume a bit.
Have a great week.
I’ve had a really strange year. First moving and then floods and then life (and everything that entails) and things just keep rolling right on over me. Mostly good things. Meeting new people, making new friends, learning new things. It’s just been really busy and hectic and at times very draining (particularly the floods). That’s why I’m really, really happy right now.
I am now published (happy dance).
Though, this also means I can’t give myself excuses any more, I need to get my act together and get blogging again.
So, if you would like to check out “Death’s Daughter” I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks so much to all the people who have continued to offer support over the last couple of months and hopefully I won’t be doing anymore disappearing acts.