For some time now, I’ve had a nagging feeling that I need to rewrite the opening chapters of my novel. Exhibit A. I don’t get into the action quickly enough. Anna doesn’t attend her first meeting of the Order of Ingham and Eragame until page 104. It needs to happen within the first 30 pages. Exhibit B. The realist nature of the opening chapters clash with the more fantastical elements that appear later on. Sure Anna’s an ordinary girl, but I spend too much time harping on her ending days of high school and her transition to college. That’s not really what the book is about. Exhibit C. The word count of my book is enough to make any agent stop dead in his or her tracks. Of course there are a few lengthy YA novels out there, but the lion’s share are under 100,000 words.
I know the above is true, but for some reason I wanted to hear that from a professional before I deleted nearly two years of my life with the push of one button. I wanted an agent to see my potential and guide me in the right direction. The problem is, the agent has to want to read the entire novel, and the opening chapters have been preventing that from happening. Either that or my queries need a major overhaul. While the latter may certainly be a possibility, I have come to the realization that the former is a more urgent matter.
In a way, though, I sort of did have a professional tell me to rewrite. I attended the Savannah Children’s Book Festival today and approached one of the featured authors, a first-time YA novelist whose new book is receiving rave reviews. I asked her for advice, and she encouraged listening to agents’ suggestions and constantly tweaking and rewriting. I didn’t tell her that no agent had actually gotten as far as reading the entire novel. I was too humiliated to admit that. As I left the festival and mulled over her advice, I realized that that was the problem. No agent has requested the entire manuscript. I can’t wait to have someone tell me to make the changes that I know are necessary. I must do them myself. I must do them now.
So you’ll notice that I’ve removed the old first chapter on this website and replaced it with “coming soon.” And it will be. I’ve been stagnant for a while. I’ve sent out a grand total of four queries in the past month. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve read a chapter, let alone the entire book. But I’m feeling my mojo return. Tomorrow morning, the great rewrite will begin. Hier is naar een nieuw begin!