Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coming Up for Air

Two weeks since I've blogged! Yikes!

I've been keeping busy. It occurred to me that I needed to get serious about querying Starcaster again because soon it will be November and after that, the Christmas break and after that, another post-NaNoWriMo query flood. I was caught up in that last year; I don't want to repeat the experience this year. Agent after agent stopped taking queries altogether, and many agents stopped replying at all. I ended up wishing for rejections! So it occurred to me that I needed to send my next batch of queries out now.

But I wasn't ready. Before I could do that, I really needed to revamp my opening because it is obvious that my old opening wasn't working. I very reluctantly dis-engaged my East of Yesterday brain and re-engaged my Starcaster brain. And I got to work.

I deleted the entire opening scene and started the novel with (for those of you who have read it) the arrival of Miss Henry. Just as Tory's running down the stairs of headquarters to meet her student, she meets Crowley coming up. He takes her into the men's dorm (!) where together, they listen through a convenient heat register to a conversation between Miss Henry and Mr. Bradburn, in which Mr. Bradburn assigns Miss Henry the task of spying on Tory.

I'm hoping this opening is much stronger. I have also renamed the novel, but I'll keep using the old name here in the blog.

This involved some major re-arranging, the inclusion of one backstory scene as a flashback, and following all that, an entire revision. I started out with 94,000 words. After my cut, my novel was bleeding profusely at barely 80,000 words. When I added most of the scenes back in their re-arranged and flashbacked places, and finished going through the whole thing again, I was still down to 88,000 words.

Which, to me, is uncomfortably short. A fantasy novel is generally between 80,000 and 100,000 words. I wanted to be comfortably in the middle. So I started going through deleted scenes. And I found a gem. It was where Tory briefs the king. None of you have read this; I never finished the scene because it just fizzled when I was trying to write it. Well, timing is everything because I thought of a great way to end the scene. I put the scene back in the novel where I originally envisioned it (the next morning after Crowley is shot), and smoothed everything that came after.

Now, it's 91,000 words. And I'm very happy with it.

Now I just need to rewrite my query. Some of you will be getting emails about this; thanks in advance for any help you might be able to give me!

Oh, and I also have a potential short story. My old opening could very well be a standalone adventure. I think I'll spiff it up and send it to various fantasy magazines.


  1. Sounds like a fabulous plan. Good luck with your querying! I love the querying part of it all. :)

  2. Wow; someone who loves querying. I don't hate it, but I do find it stressful.

  3. I too am shocked that someone loves to query! It was enough to scare me away a good long time.
    I liked the opening to Starcaster that you had before . . . but if you think your changes will help, then you do what you must.
    Say, whatever happened to Forging rewrite read?

  4. Ok, Lisa; now I'm going to have to see which opening I used when I sent you the manuscript. I know I changed it because everyone was confused about some backstory, but my latest change takes the backstory back out and includes it later as a flashback.

    I have a terrible suspicion that my "new" opening is now very similar--but hopefully much improved--to the "old" opening.

    The Forging rewrite is coming. It was a matter of figuring out which MS would be easier to polish up for a re-query. Definitely Starcaster.

    Too many manuscripts! I'm thrilled you're still interested, though!

  5. The opening was with Tory waiting for I forgot his name (handsome guy) for the disk, he doesn't show up so she's go into the house to locate it.

    They're great stories, I really feel like it's more a matter of timing and finding the write agent.

  6. Lisa, that was the opening that got a big fat yawn from the publishing community. Or worse--non-responses from agents. I liked that opening too--and my readers all liked it--but it didn't work with any of the agents I queried. I didn't have one partial request that turned into a request for a full.

    However, I still like the "embassy mission" story. So much so that I'm going to polish it up as a standalone short story.

  7. Wow, it sounds like you've accomplished a serious amount of rewriting! I sympathize with the lack of blogging; sometimes, when I'm completely buried in projects (or completely on a roll!) it's hard for me to shift writing gears to blog-mode. Thanks for sharing your successes, tho. It's inspiring to read about them!

  8. Wow; thanks for thinking these are "successes". I still think of them as "attempts". :)

  9. I think that any time you meet a goal--like finishing a major revision, writing a new scene, or sending x number of query letters out into the wide, wide world--it's an accomplishment. :)

  10. Gosh, I'm trying to remember now when it is that she actually meets Crane. I remember her waiting for him, but isn't it a bit later that they actually meet? And if I'm remembering right, readers meet Crane before they meet Crowley, which I thought was good for the romantic subplot; readers generally expect the first attractive member of the opposite sex that the protagonist meets to be the romantic lead. But it wasn't that way with Starcaster, which I found to be a neat surprise.

    What's the new title, if you don't mind my asking?

  11. I'm thinking of going with A Spy and a Lady. It reflects the mood of the novel rather well, I think. I'm also rethinking my revisions. I'm not sure if I don't like the original better. Especially in light of your comments above.

    Argh! Good thing I always keep copies. A good thing may have come out of it--my new scene where Tory briefs the king. It will work in the previous revision as well.


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