Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let's Do Lunch - Flogged

There are a number of odd little websites around. I found "Flogging the Quill" by backtracking an Authonomite with an amusing story about a "Vampire Kitty." (Yeah, I'm a vampire-hater, but I love satire.) So my eye is caught by the fact that he will take a sample of your writing (first chapter - 16 lines) give it a review.

The man is an editor, as well as a writer. (Hey, gotta make a living.)

This is what he said on the page:

I wanted more
A good, clear voice and strong, clean writing pulled me in, and story questions about what this woman was going to do with her life got me to turn the page. In fact, it’s so clean that I don’t really have any nitpicks. However . . .

I did turn the page, and read on, which is what I do for these floggings. And I found the opening to be a little “bait and switch” in nature. The opening, which evokes the tragedy of 9/11 and its aftereffects on people, isn’t paid off with what happens next. Here are the next 16 lines:

Yep, busted on the old "bait and switch." I knew that would get me into trouble with about everyone.

But wait, look above that - "A good, clear voice and strong clean writing." (Batting eyelashes) No nit picks? (Fanning myself.) This guy knows his stuff and he picks a mean nit. (That's a complement.)

There's more: "That's my advice, (cut the first two chapters) for what it's worth. Finding fresh eyes will also be a help. Your writing and your prose is quite good, and seductive--it reminds me of a writer friend whose writing is similar in that I can't find any flaws in the first reading, but can with another pass or two."

That's it! He called my writing seductive. (I'm swooning.)

So here I sit, at the keyboard in the den at Jordan's Croft - wondering what I should do next.

The dilemma is the length of the manuscript. It's been an issue from day one. At 35k words I called it the first draft. I got to 89k words and declared the novel complete. The last editing pass - I started honing the prose. Now - I'm under 80k, somewhere around 75k without the steaming bedroom scene at the end.

If I cut those two chapters - where will I be word count wise? Those two chapters are 5.1k and 5.9k words respectively. Can I afford to cut my novel to 64k words?

Not if I want to sell it, most places want 80k to 100k words.

My options are:

1) Cut it, knowing it will be too short to sell, for the experience.
2) Cut it and add - something - to make up the difference.
a) The villain's PoV bombed when I tried it.
b) Expand the hero's PoV. (Which I haven't tried yet.)
3) Hire an editor - for the experience, knowing that they could kill the story without meaning to. (It's not selling, so what difference does that make?)
4) Send it to the Harlequin critique service - at the risk they will make it cheesy to fit a category. (This carries the possibility of a sale.)
5) Forget this novel - it's an improvement but "Swallow the Moon" is a hell of a lot better than "Lunch" any day.

Honestly, this is not the day to make the decision. Tanamara is stalled up with an eye injury. I'm home with a migraine from wrestling with her for two days trying to treat her eye.

She fought the Vet, the handler and me even twitched, so we tranked her.

She still fought.

I'm the one whose laid up, she took a nap.

Such is life on the farm.

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