Monday, November 06, 2006

The Book

Well, I've just put the finishing touches on the novel, and now I have to decide if I'm going to submit it, or just put it in a box and forget about it. I had very high hopes for this book, but as I was working on these latest revisions, I realized that there were some things I didn't like about it. Maybe I'm being overly critical...or maybe I'm just sick of this damn story, but the novel seems to be lacking.

First of all, I'm not really happy with the actual writing of the book. Anyone who has read my work knows that I'm a fairly straight-forward writer. I don't waste a lot of time on hyperbole or description. As I always say, "If the sky is blue, it's blue!" However, in this book I tried to simplify my writing even more, basically trying to make it as easy to understand as I possibly could. Why would I do that, you might ask. The reason is simple...the underlying idea of the book is that we can't really understand anything, and that when we understand that we can't understand...that's when we truly understand!

I'm sure that anyone who was raised completely in the Western Philosophical schools just said "What the *&$#?" However, from a Taoist perspective, that statement actually makes sense...although I could have phrased it better. Come on, it's almost one in the morning, and I've been working off and on on this book for the last 12 hours...cut me some slack.

The point I was trying to make was that I wanted a very simple and easy to understand writing style to act as a juxtaposition against the underlying theme. I'm not really sure that I pulled it off.

The second problem I've encountered with the book is that most of my longer works really jerk the readers around, or at least they have parts that really jerk the readers around. Anyone who has heard one of my readings of The Opium of the People will understand. I really like to make the reader uncomfortable when they read my work. I use torture, rape, pillaging, baby killing, whatever I feel like will get a reaction out of the reader. It's not gratuitous...it actually does contribute to the story. In this book, there's none of that. Even when I kill off a friend of the main character, his reaction is rather subdued (although that is in character for him.)

So, what will now happen with this book? I'll probably submit it, but I don't have high hopes for it...however, I have been wrong before...

8 comments:

Keith said...

It's just post coital depression.

You have to make the decisions about submission, now. You are done writing, you have to go into management mode. Are you going to try for an agent? Are you going to send it out to the big SpecFic publishers? Where are you going to find a good box for it? Do you need a fresh ink cartridge to print it all out? Do you have enough good quality paper?

The management phase is going to last for the next couple of years, so stop worrying about it. This novel has been a hump you've needed to get over for several years already.

It's time to start noodling with those other cool ideas you've been kicking around. Writing stories is so much better than the management aspects.

Keith

J Erwine said...

I am actually going to try to find an agent. The book's a bit short for the spec fic market, but I'm still going to try, and yes, I am going to go for the big houses first. I always start at the top and work my way down...that's probably why I haven't published some stories that I know little markets would take. I always go for the biggies first!

All of the mechanical stuff is in place, although I probably won't need a box for a while (I have them though, just in case.) Most agents and publishers don't want to see the whole beast right off the bat...some only want a query letter where you sum up the book in one paragraph...

Keith said...

I've read that Romance novels have been reducing the page count to save money on printing and keep the price down. This is an industry wide trend. You may have accidentally produced a more attractive novel by having a lower word count.

I feel that many modern "fat" novels are padded to the extreme. I find myself skipping long sections. For example, the plethora of Mars novels that appeared about 5 years ago where all in need of a major diet.

Keith

J Erwine said...

Unfortunately, the SF market has increased their word counts. Most of them don't want to see anything under 80,000 and for Baen, it's 100,000.

It seems like the big publishers are starting to do more trade paperbacks. The cost for those has gone down, while the cost of mass-market paperbacks has gone up...

Still, I guess you never know until you try...

Anonymous said...

I like the Chaff books but even they are pricey. I bought 2 books last night and that ran me into $22 bucks CND.

Just curious J but how long did it take you to finish the rough draft and how many revisions have you done?

I'm planning my scene synopsis of a 100K novel/80 scenes and I'm about at the half way mark of the story. Scene planning wise. I figure. I'll be able to actually get down to write the thing maybe Dec.1st of this year.

Also wondering, what do you guys think of Jack M Bickham's scene & Structure? I'm about the 2/3rds of the way through and its very interesting. Same with Swain.

Jim

J Erwine said...

Jim-It took me many, many, many years to write this book. Originally I set out to write it about ten years ago. I wrote the first chapter, and never could get any further, so I reworked it into a short story which I sold to Alternate Realities and then later to Sam's Dot...where it became an illustrated chapbook.

The story then lay dormant until I figured out what I wanted to do with the second chapter...so I quickly wrote it, and couldn't figure out where to go with it...so, I re-worked it and turned it into a short story which sold to Hadrosaur Tales.

When I left my horrible job over the summer, I started to work on the novel that doesn't want to be written, and then picked this one back up...everything fell into place, and I ran with it. It was 40-50,000 words in about two months. That, of course, is the luxury of not having a day job at the moment (let's hope it stays that way.)

I did four re-writes on it, and I still may do another because I'm really not happy with it, but for now I just need to be away from it.

I read Bickham's book a long time ago...seemed a bit too clinical, but there was some good stuff in it. Most of that series from Writers Digest was pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Thanks J

40-50k in two months? Is that a lot?

I usually write 10k/week when I'm writing and I have a part time evening job to pay the bills.When I'm writing a novel I can finish the thing in 10 weeks or less depending on if there is a stat holiday to give me an extra full day of writing. I usually write 1000 words a day during the week and 2-3k weekends. If I'm lucky.

Isn't 50k kind of small for a novel these days? But it sounds like its a novella.

The way you and Keith are going at least you guys publishing something.I've almost got the outline for "F" done. I just need to work on the character sketches, fatal flaws, subplot sketches that sort of thing. I might, maybe, be able to start this thing Jan 1st. It's a 140k novel.

As for Bickham, yes he sounds clinical. I've got Swain as well and both are excellent.

Thanks for the reply.

Jim

J Erwine said...

The novel is actually about 60,000 words...still short, but hopefully not too short. When I said 50,000, I was talking about how much I had to write, considering that the first two chapters were basically written.
The two months also included all of the revisions...so it wasn't just 50,000 words.

140,000 words might be a bit too much. There are a few houses that won't look at that long of a novel...it's just a bit too much. You would be on the opposite extreme from me...mine might be too short, whereas yours might be too long, and both by maybe 10,000 words...

Best of luck with it. I'm back to work on the novel that doesn't want to get written, and I think I've realized the main problem...it sucks! But, I can see a number of ways to fix it.