The Grindstone

Marketing.  Bleh.  I’m so sick of doing it right now that I really really thought about skipping my post about it for today, or cheating and posting about something more fun.

As a compromise, this is a post sort of about marketing and sort of about rewriting.  In the past few weeks, I’ve started to realize that the opening of the novel I’ve been sending out is really not the best representation of the style, tone, type of story, or flavor of the book, and that it also puts forth most of the narrator’s bad side right off the bat, without giving a reader much to grab onto and like about her.  I’d never take away her flaws – they’re a good chunk of what drives her throughout the storyline, and aren’t necessarily flaws except when she lets them get out of hand.

Why didn’t I realize this before?  Well, I sort of did, but I wasn’t sure how big a problem it was.  As the rejection letters have come rolling in, I’ve started to think, Maybe it’s a Big Problem.  I’ve still got a sample out to an agent, so I won’t be impulsively rewriting anything until I hear back about that, but if I get a “no” from him, I think it’s time to sit down and look at how to get the most appropriate, enticing start to this book at the start of the book.

Currently, it’s chronological – it starts with the narrator’s death scene.  Now, I’m thinking I should start it after she’s already dead, raise questions about how she ended up that way and so forth as part of the hook, and catch the reader up as the plot moves along.  The good news is, I’ll probably be able to keep the material, just reorganized, and any dead weight (no pun intended) will be easily shed in the process (since I always felt like the first part of the book was a little more bloated than I wanted it to be, and yet the pacing in the first five chapters has always felt like a whirlwind).

So there.  The moral of this post is:  Be brutally honest with yourself about the first few chapters of your book.  Read it as if you don’t know what comes next.  And don’t judge it on whether or not you would buy it.  Judge it on whether or not you would sell it to make your living, based on the first five pages or so, when you have five hundred other queries to get through this week.  Because that’s the kind of person you have to impress.

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