Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Writer's Dilemma

I'm back from the flu. It wasn't as bad a siege as others have endured. And since it coincided with a massive snowstorm that left Rochester under more than a foot of snow, it wasn't a bad time to be confined to bed, either. I even got a little bit of writing done on my YA novel. Which brings me to my current dilemma.

There are three times to get a book contract: a) before you begin the book, b) after you've completed a reasonable chunk and have a synopsis of the rest, and c) after the whole book is written.

A) is usually the choice of established writers -- but not always.

B) has the advantage of providing some security and cash as you write the rest of the book. It has three large disadvantages, however. First, you have to interrupt the writing momentum to edit and refine that big chunk of first draft. Second, it assumes you can write a synopsis of the rest, which for writers like me, who proceed in a definite direction but with only a vague idea of what lies over the horizon, this is a problem. Third, if you submit a chunk-plus-synopsis to your chosen editor and s/he doesn't like it, it's a huge blow to one's confidence in the unfinished work (and to the impetus to finish it and to find an editor who might like it better).

C) is my usual preference, but then, of course, you may be left with a book nobody wants, instead of merely a chunk of book nobody wants. The investment is greater, but so is the potential loss.

This is where I stand with my YA novel. A) didn't happen, so I vacillate between b) and c). Each day that I write more instead of editing, revising, refining, and creating a synopsis, I move farther from b) toward c), but c) is still a long ways off. So now what?

As the snows melt and my post-flu strength returns, a decision will need to be made. After all, one can only recuperate in bed, watching reruns of PROJECT RUNWAY, for so long.


Andreas said...

I do hope the flu is completely gone soon. I'd stick with B if I were you ... and, as you mentioned, there's always C to a new editor if the first B doesn't fly...

Mike Flynn said...

Try b) + c)??

Keep going.

Revise only a portion of the first draft, up to a cliffhanger or something.

Cast the remainder of the first draft into an outline of the rest of the book up to the point you're at.

Wrap up the outline with an indication of ultimate direction.

+ + +

I've outlined books after they were written, in an effort to untangle the tangle. But my current project, I sat down to give Eleanor a description and it turned into an 18-page outline. Shazaam. Now I'll have to write it.

BuffySquirrel said...

Glad you're feeling better. Have no useful advice, tho!