Writing Wrongs

November 15, 2005

So that wonderful agent request for the full manuscript of India Charlie turned into the not-so-wonderful agent rejection. Which was, given the timing, not a surprise. Iíve done this enough to know when the pointer on the ďwaitĒ meter goes from hopeful to resigned.

I was definitely resigned by the time the SASE landed in the mailbox yesterday. (It was also a Monday. I have a love affair with Mondays and rejections. It was either last year or the year before where I went through a good month or two getting a rejection every single Monday.)

And while I went into a minor tailspin, the rejection itself was personal and not too awful. She called the opening of the novel beautiful, and said look into military life was interesting . . . but (you knew that was coming) that strength was what concerned her. She felt the military detracted from the central love story.

Thatís fair, in that itís her opinion. But. Itís not a love story. Itís a war story that happens to have a significant subplot involving two people who fall in love. Itís about what itís like to be a woman deployed to a combat zone and what itís like being brand new to a unit thatís deploying to a combat zone.

This isnít necessarily everyoneís first choice for a comfort read. I appreciate that. I think what has frustrated me most about marketing India Charlie is it hasnít met anyoneís expectations. Either they want a military romance, emphasis on romance, or they want a Bombshell-style story with lots of action and adventure. India Charlie is neither.

Because of this, there are some things Iím doing differently with The Boysí Club.

Keeping it all in Kitís point of view. I really like Frankís viewpoint in India Charlie, but I think it sets up the romance expectation. Besides, without the boysí viewpoints in the story, the reader (along with Kit) is never 100% sure where she stands with them. I hope this adds to the tension. This also forces me to funnel all the conflict through Kitís perspective, which I hopes sharpens it as well.

Go grittier sooner. I didnít do it on purpose, but I donít actually use the f-word (see how demurely I avoid it here) until chapter four (the chapter that comes after the partial--what I send to contests/agents/editors). The Boysí Club: second scene, mainly because Vic is talking, and the topic is crude, mainly because he is. Everyone may hate it, but at least there will be no surprises.

Cut closer to the bone. I really thought I did with India Charlie, but I wonder, if like other aspects of craft, you get better at this as you write. Itís not just about ďraising the stakes.Ē I think itís about raising the stakes in a way that resonates with both the characters and the story.

In any event, I already signed up for the Golden Heart, and I do have that editor request, but after that, I think Iíll retire India Charlie. It had a good run. I donít regret writing it, or sending it out

Not for a minute.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 11:28 a.m.