Saturday, April 10, 2010

20,000 Words and a Monster = Contract?

56,290 words at 225 pgs. is where Curse of the Titanic presently sits, and what with my goal of achieving a worthwhile rough draft of the entire ship-less-than-shape manuscript within 3 months of beginning....after losing 75 pgs., I kinda backed off that...freaked out a bit. But it looks like things have taken a new turn and the book is flowing well, and while I still need approximately 20,000 more pages at very least, I do believe I can make the three month goal thing happen. Even though self imposed, a deadline is a deadline, and an elephant never forgets....

I began the blog and the book simultaneously in mid-February, so mid-May would be three months, and since soon my classes will be no more as college classes let out soon, I will have more full days to work on the MS.  Once an editor challenged me when I called her up and insisted she tell me why she turned down a "perfectly good mystery" I had sent her. She had bought two books before from me and I felt this one I was calling Darkness Falls was much better than the previous titles. She fired back at me, "It's a mystery, and we are up to our eyeballs in mysteries."

Then what do you need, I replied. She said horror...Stephen King stuff...looking for the next Stephen King *everyone expected him to one day kill himself on that Harley he drove from Maine to New York to see his publisher.

"And one more reason I had to turn it down," Jane added, "it's 60,000 words, and we are now doing 80,000 word novels."

"Well all right," I said, getting somewhere, "you give me a contract, and I will give you a monster and 20,000 more words and turn it into a King-a-thon!"

She hesitated only a second and said, "Deal. You've got it. I need it in three months."

Since it was already written to 60,000, I had no doubt I could finish it in plenty of time. Point of the story is never say no to an editor and learn to beat deadlines, even self imposed ones. Sad to say that in today's climate, there are damn few editors who can singlehandledly offer you a deal over the phone as Jane did for Dorchester in those days. Today almost every such decision is made by committee, and what is it they say about committee decisions? A camel is a horse created by committee.

But back to Titanic, yes it is flowing well now, cruising in fact. There are some items I have to do a bit more research on, seek out and destroy the X marks the spots moments in the story where I placed in a capital X for a fact I will need to run down like precise numbers. This method allows me to stay on target and in the story mindset, right brain alpha wave moment and save the left brain stuff for another time.

I would like to say something about the rhythm of the rewrite; by this, I mean it is useful and healthy to go back and back again in a parobala fashion, going back to page one and starting your rewrite all over again even though not finished and facing a deadline.  Why? Because of loose ends and missing items and details like the tooth taken from the beast by one of the miners in early scenes, and minor dies and we never see who gets the saber tooth in his pocket ever again because Professor Walker forgot about the damn thing!  But not on rewrite as it strikes me between the eyes I must have it crop up in both the later autopsy scene and in the future story as well!  It is a clue to the past on the one hand, and a clue to the monster and the disease it carries on the other.

With so much going on, such a complex canvasse of characters at play and on stage and so much going on such details as a tooth taken as a trophy can easily be forgotten and later overlooked but NOT on careful rewrite. So I have restored the item to its previous importance now. Worth the rewrite just to catch this one oversight.

I trust everyone is OK with my title selection, but if you are up for a Title Fight, let us have at it. I love a good natured fight and if you can defend a title better than I can defend my choice then bring it on as they say.

Rewrite is great for tighteing and making dialogue work better too, and if you do not read aloud anything else during your rewrite (I do much of it aloud in my head), you really should read dialogue aloud to make it sound like speech.  Be sure to also have each character speak differently than all others, and work on each having his own world view (often subtle and part of the pistache of building the character).  See my Psych 101 for Authors and Their Characters posted at http://www.acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com/  or at the writers corner at http://www.speakwithoutinterruption.com/

And don't be shy - leave me word on comments here!

Rob Walker
http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com/

5 comments:

Morgan Mandel said...

Doing another library event, plus a party for my nephew today, after already going to church, pancake breakfast and vet for Rascal's yearly shots.

Days like this I can't find much time to write. By evening, I'll be exhausted and won't be able to think. At least I got the wash done yesterday after my booksigning at Barnes & Noble.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Kelly Irvin said...

KI love your advice, Rob. Some of my writer friends think I'm crazy. My agent didn't want to represent a novel I wrote because she said it wasn't inspirational enough. I asked her what she wanted and she said an Amish romance. I've now written 45,000 words of my first Amish romance. As a former newspaper writer I take it as a challenge. I should be able to write anything and make it interesting. We'll see if she agrees. In the meantime, I haven't given up on The Dead Parent Society. Somewhere out there is an acquistion editor who will love it.

Kelly Irvin said...

I love your advice, Rob. Some of my writer friends think I'm crazy. My agent didn't want to represent a novel I wrote because she said it wasn't inspirational enough. I asked her what she wanted and she said an Amish romance. I've now written 45,000 words of my first Amish romance. As a former newspaper writer I take it as a challenge. I should be able to write anything and make it interesting. We'll see if she agrees. In the meantime, I haven't given up on The Dead Parent Society. Somewhere out there is an acquistion editor who will love it.

jennymilch said...

I went to hear the publisher of a very hot imprint speak and she said she was amazed that deals get made when it's an editor acquiring (as opposed to the publisher). Getting three, six, seven editors to agree, she suggested, was pretty hard. Anyway, I love the way you made this deal and look forward to hearing your next steps!

Rob Walker said...

Morgan - Momma said there'd be days like that...I feel your pain.
Kelly - yeah I take anything an editor suggests as a challenge; once an editor gave me like three sentences of a premise, asked if I could write it up as a proposal and a novel; it became a four book series, my Decoy Series. Love a writing challenge.
Jenny - I miss the days when one editor made the decision...the good old days.
Thanks y'all

Rob