Saturday, 10 March 2012

Paper Cuts

I have a list of edits to do. Some (manageable, mostly small) were discussed with the agent. New ones were emailed over once she had read the book again. Ah. BIG changes. My immediate reaction was predictable but surprisingly painful.

I know the book is flawed, I've said it enough here, but a couple of her suggestions - which is how they are posed - just don't sit right with my vision of the book. The main problem is that she would like to put the bad guy - well, girl - front and centre, and I have slowly introduced her. I've managed to advance her introduction to the first scene, and boost her appearance throughout. I think the agent is right, she's thinly written, I think I was trying to keep her mysterious, but as a reader once I'm curious about a character, I want more information. Damn, I've just agreed with her again...

How do we let go of our stories? My niece has just had a baby, and she suggested writing a book was a bit similar. It takes ages, you bring it painfully and with a lot of effort out of yourself, and it's yours. Then someone else wants to substantially change it?

Here's my thinking. I want to be the kind of client who trusts that the agent has far superior knowledge of what  editors are looking for, and takes advice. I want to do a good job producing a manuscript that will go far, and deliver a good read.

I also want to be true to myself, true to the work, and retain some small certainty that the book works. After all, I am the writer.

So far I've changed seventeen things, some small, some whole chapters. I've decided not to completely change two ideas, doing my best to find a compromise. One thing I know I can't do unless I rewrite two thirds of the book and lose the main focus. I hope I'm doing the right thing but it is my baby! What would you do? 

10 comments:

  1. Go with your gut feeling. Is the agent's expertise improving your original idea or story arc? Is it your first book? If it were my first, I'd listen to the agent most of the time.

    If it were not my first book, I'd still discuss it with the agent.

    Good luck!

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    1. I'm a bit torn. She explained that her expertise was in sales rather than editing - so she knows what sells. Most of her suggestions were brilliant, but one cuts at the main story arc, and she herself said she thought they were only small tweaks, easy to do ina few days...I don't think she can know the book as thoroughly as I do but I agree, what I need to do is enter into a dialogue with the agent. Thank you!

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  2. Trust doesn't grow overnight, and you've only met your agent once; can I suggest that you talk to her some more. There's a good chance that she DOES know what she's doing, but I very much doubt she's inflexible.

    There are things to learn, you from her, and her about you, but there should be time to do that.

    Luck!

    Nicola

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    1. You're absolutely right, I just need to talk to her. I suppoose I'm still in that 'does she really want to represent ME?' mode rather than finding common ground. To be fair, the changes she suggested, bar one, were discussed quite reasonably last week. It's that one I'm fighting a bit. Thank you.

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  3. The baby analogy is a good one, it must feel like someone is criticising your parenting! Take some time and deep breathes and then try to stick as close to her suggestions as you can bear.
    Good luck!

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    1. I'm trying! I just don't want to end up with some Frankenstein's baby of a novel, with added bits and unexpected chopped out sections! More work!

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  4. I've been in this situation and feel your pain. My agent made it clear though, that despite the changes being couched as 'suggestions' she wanted those changes made! I think some of my resistance was that I couldn't bear having to almost start over in some places (laziness maybe?!)

    Lots of hard work and rewriting later I had a much improved novel, and the couple of niggles I felt didn't work we eventually agreed on.

    Wishing you lots of luck.

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  5. I think you are right. Standing in the garden hanging some washing out, I thought of a way I could bring in the big character, and up the emotional appeal for the story too. I don't mind the work, I just don't want to make it worse! As long as I'm convinced the changes add to the novel, it's easy. I'm going to try and give real consideration to what she says. It's certainly going in the right direction.

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  6. It sounds like the comments have helped you come to a conclusion!

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  7. Hi Downith, I think the conclusion was 'just do it'! (Mine, anyway).

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