Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Noah Zarc Rewrite - Again

I finished up the latest rewrite/edit of Noah Zarc last night. I'm really excited about some of the changes. I'm gonna let it stew a couple days then send it off to some readers. The plan is to have this be the last pass. Then it is time to start submitting it. I cut about 1,500 words, but it is still just a bit over 50k. Perhaps my readers can point out a few places to cut. But if not I'm pretty comfortable with that. I don't think any agent is going to throw it out because of a few thousand words.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Writing a "Big" book.

Just when I thought I was nearing completion on the editing for Noah Zarc, I read "Writing the Breakout Novel" by literary agent Donald Maass. He makes the argument that best sellers aren't made by good marketing and sales efforts, they depend more strongly on the writing. Duh! But it is surprising how often I read on the blogosphere about marketing, and how your novel will never sell unless you spend a vast amount of time promoting your book. Maass says a writer should be writing. If an author ever wants to move beyond average sales, or dwindling sales in the case of mid-career novelist, then they need to learn how to write a "big" story. He emphasizes this does not necessarily mean a long novel, but it should feel big. I call it "epic".

So, as I attempt to apply this to Noah Zarc, I find there are elements of "bigness" in it, but the plot could use some strengthening too. Where I'm struggling at the present though is with word count. Most sources I've read say that a middle grade novel should be about 30,000 to 40,000 words in length. Noah Zarc stands at about 54,000 words. I don't mind pushing the envelope a little bit, but I feel it is probably too long already and should be cut. However, I also have some ideas that I believe will make it much bigger, much more epic in scope. Except I'm sure those additions will push the word count even higher.

As I've said in previous posts, I am a firm believer of working within guidelines. That is why I became a graphic designer instead of a fine artist. One puts food on the table, one doesn't (as easily). So I'm not going to brush off the word count guidelines only for the sake of my "art". Nevertheless, I'm feeling pretty constricted by it, to tell the story I want to tell. Perhaps the answer lies in the sequel. Hint at greatness in the first book, but then really open the spigot on the second. But then I risk not snagging my audience (agents, editors, and readers) by writing a book that doesn't really get going soon enough.

As you can see I'm pretty conflicted on the subject. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.