Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Remains of Advice From Other Agents

Downtown Raleighwood
January 2013
Thanks to Heather Kelly, I was recently given the chance to send the first chapters of The Book to her friend Anna Staniszewski, a wonderful,  published writer and writing instructor.  Anna made several spot-on suggestions in terms of pacing and maintaining an awareness of conflicts after the initial scene ends and before the major conflict of the story starts up.

This has made me take yet another look at The Book in terms of pacing and a nagging problem that has lingered in the early part of the book for a while.

Early on I worked with Agent #2 on a Revise and Resubmit basis.  One of Agent #2's first suggestions was that the story moved too quickly.  She suggested that I slow things down a bit and let my Main Character experience his new life a bit.  What was his first night like?  His first meal? Why not have him explore the house?

So I wrote new chapters.  My MC contemplated, explored, tried to make sense of his new surroundings, and ate.  Agent #2 loved the new chapters; I was ambivalent.   I knew they made sense in terms of character development and allowing the reader more of a chance to identify with my MC, but I thought they slowed the story down too much.

When Agent #2 finally decided to pass I left those chapters in.  After all, if one agent thought them necessary to the story, maybe another one would as well.  When I did several R&R rounds with Agent #4 she said nothing about them, either.  Anna caught the first slow-down section (a part that a long-time friend of mine who has read all of the major revisions refers to as "When the story comes to a crashing halt.") and came up with some simple suggestions to regain some momentum.

Part of me wants to just chuck these chapters and shuffle the vital information elsewhere in the book.  Part of me just isn't sure.  I'm so unsure, in fact, that I've stopped sending out new queries while I mull this over.

I'm curious -- have any of you come up against this type of situation?  What did you decide to do with chapters/sections that an agent requested but, later, they just don't seem to work for you?  I'd really appreciate your feedback.

-- Tom