More on toxic ideas
The opening featured on the previous Booky Noise workshop? It is the opening from a book Kelly and I tried to write. Actually, we wrote it, finished the damn thing. We loved it! And then our agent sent it to our publisher. AND THEY REJECTED IT!
Mind you, this was after we had already done four books for them so we had a track record. But they hated it.Our agent then sent the manuscript around to a bunch of other New York publishers, because of course we believed our publisher just didn't get it. EVERYONE passed on it!
Why am I even bringing this up? Believe me, it's not because I am not over it. I am. Truly. I bring this up as an object lesson of sorts:
1. No matter where you are on the food chain, you are never immune to rejection. So you might as well grow a thick skin. Now.
2. We had myopia. It was hard for us to accept the fact that this story and this character that we were so in love with was...flawed. We couldn't see it at the time because we were so close to this book. This story had some serious plot holes, some not-so-great characters and other weaknesses. Unpublished writers often talk about rejection letters, which tend to be maddeningly unspecific about the "why" of rejections. But you have to learn to read between the lines. All the editors who rejected our book said essentially the same thing: We had a big problem with an inconsistency in the book's TONE. It wasn't dark, it wasn't light; it wasn't hardboiled, it wasn't chick lit. The phrase that turned up in letters more than once was -- I am not kidding -- "it's neither fish nor fowl." I think that is an actual publishing term, but I could be wrong.
3. This was a toxic idea. But dammit, we loved it, and we did it anyway. We shouldn't have. To paraphrase that great philospher Sting: If you love some toxic idea, set it free.
I offered our opening up for you all in Booky Noise to illustrate one of my favorite axioms about writing fiction: Anyone can craft a killer opening.
I truly believe this. Given enough time and hard work, almost anyone can write a good hook. But can you maintain a consistent, compelling story over 250 pages? Now, there's the nub of it all.
So, sorry for misleading anyone. Hope you aren't pissed. Happy holidays and new Booky Noise stuff coming soon!