Execution Can Always Improve

11 05 2008

In the last entry, I mentioned that I was having a professional manuscript editor take a crack at my novel. After researching the editor in question and even having an interesting online run-in with her on her blog, I decided that she had the appropriate level of frankness to give it to me straight. What is that old addage, be careful what you wish for? I’m updating it to be careful what you pay for. So after paying her $2 per page and waiting five weeks, I finally have my feedback.

Needless to say, I am not overjoyed. I respect most of her comments regarding story flow and flashbacks (she is not a fan of these devices). What I strongly disagree with was the fact that she just didn’t get it. But I think the fault may lie in the execution of the story.

She constantly referred to my story as a crime novel, when it is most definitely a supernatural suspense novel. I think the confusion began there and carried through. She kept wanting the book to be one thing that it refuses to be. I can understand that. But calling One Blood a crime novel is like calling Beloved a historical fiction novel. The genre cannot possibly encompass the size of this idea. Which is why I take pains to make the supernatural elements quite obvious in the context of the story. Which she takes pains to tell me to cut out from the fabric of the story.

So I am at an empass. She is the industry insider, and here I am, on the outside. Should I aquiesce, take her feedback to heart, and re-write the story? Or should I stick to my guns, take her more mechanistic comments, and leave the soul of the story intact?

One thing is clear, the whole Quentin Tarantino flashback/flashforward thing only works in movies. It just kills me that I have to dress up like everyone else to get into the party. But, such is life.

In any event, I am pleased with my decision to have a professional look over my work. It reaffirms the journey I still have ahead. But I’m not as far off as this individual may think. The elements of a great story are all there (maybe not in the ideal chronology), but there. I just need the right brave individual to give One Blood a real shot.

“I wrote for twelve years and collected 250 rejection slips before getting any fiction published, so I guess outside reinforcement isn’t all that important to me.”

– Lisa Alther

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