It’s the New Year! That means I can’t stall any longer or use the holidays as an excuse. It’s time to take action on my 2012 goals. I need to send out queries for my completed novel and start a brand-new project. A new novel, to be exact.
Why do I find this so daunting? Maybe because it took me over three years, multiple rewrites, and dozens of ‘deleted scenes’ to finish my current novel (a YA fantasy romance called “The Fallen Princess”). Since I can’t afford to take three years to write another book, I’m hoping the process will be a little smoother (and faster!) this time, especially if I apply things I learned in the saga of writing “The Fallen Princess.”
Things I’ve Learned (and if these seem painfully obvious, I apologize!):
1) Know your genre: When I wrote “The Fallen Princess,” I just told the story that was in my head, without giving any thought to genre. Until an instructor at a writer’s conference asked our group, “Where do you envision seeing your novel when you go into a bookstore?” In my mind, I saw it as a trade paperback on the ‘recent books’ table at Barnes and Noble. I never considered where it might be shelved long-term, or how an on-line seller, like Amazon, might categorize it. But as I started writing pitches, I realized it was hard to define my novel if it didn’t fit into a genre. I went through a lot of angst before I figured out it belonged in the YA section. I’m not saying anyone should force their writing into a specific genre, but knowing what kind of book you’ve written, and who it might appeal to, helps when you try to pitch it.
2) Think about the pitch: Only after I’d written the entire novel and tried to write the query letter and elevator pitch, did I realize how convoluted the story was. At first I thought, “writing queries is just really hard,” but the more feedback I received, the more I realized that the story itself wasn’t clear. This led to more rewrites. So now, as I start my new WIP, I’m already asking myself, “How would I pitch the basic concept of this story in a couple of sentences?”
3) Know your word count: The first version of “The Fallen Princess” was 836 pages (836 pages!!). Seriously. And even when I thought I’d cut it down to a reasonable length, it was 180,000 words. Yikes. And when I Googled ‘word count’, I learned that I was way off base (at least 80,000 words off base!). Again, it took considerable rewrites to get my novel down to a manageable 90K words. So right from the start, I’m not going to make the same mistake with this new novel. It just can’t be that long. No exceptions.
So that’s where I’m starting from. I’m sure I have lots more to learn. What about you? Anything to share that you’ve learned in your writing journey?