Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Agent Update re: "Horatio"

Way back in mid-October of last year, I sent a revised manuscript to my agent, addressing some concerns he had about the protagonist. The end of the year was a very busy time for him, so it wasn't until late January that I heard back about the revisions. Mostly it was good news, but a severe problem with the book has sort of made itself evident. There's a sort of B-plot in the second half of the book that takes over the narrative, and my protagonist spends a lot of time acting mostly as a narrator for this other story. He and his story fade into the background. Which is, you know, not good. So my agent wisely asked me to do something about that.

My idea is to make the B-plot actually a real part of the A-plot, to connect the two narratives so that my protagonist's choices and decisions are what actually drive the events in the support character's lives, and also this will enhance the protagonist's character arc. Swell, right? Only problem with that is, I didn't know how to do it. Not without rewriting the whole thing from scratch, anyway. Which I don't want to do.

So I spent about a week and a half obsessing over this story, and trying out different ways of structuring the narrative to make all the pieces work together and to keep my protagonist actually driving the story instead of fading into the woodwork when the narrative dealt with the B-plot. Some of the ideas I had were pretty amazingly awful. For a while I completely lost any sense of what this book was about, what my original impulse for writing it was. Finally, however, at lunch time yesterday as it happens, I had the Big Idea that will make it all work out, which will still involve some heavy lifting in the writing area, a lot of new scenes and changes to existing scenes, but I do think that the book will become more interesting and, as my agent says, a "holy-crap page-turner" which sounds good to me.

A secondary effect of all of this brainstorming has been that I have had a completely separate new idea for what to do with this story, which idea is so radically different from what I've already written that, you know, after I revise "Horatio" and finish writing "Cocke & Bull," I may well write out the newest new idea as well, because it's simply that cool and intriguing. Should I tell you what that idea is? Well, I won't. We'll just see what happens. Possibly the day will come where I've had adequate sleep and I'll realize that the new supersecret supercool idea is, you know, just dumb.

Anyway, that's my agent update for Debut Novel, currently re-titled "Horatio."


  1. Congratulations on the Big Idea.

    It's a terrible thing to face the prospect of having something possibly fatally flawed in your work and to have no idea how to fix it.

    I'm facing the same scenario, so I'm glad you were able to work it out. You offer me hope.

  2. The one advantage I have for Rudy Toot-Toot is a <20k word count. Otherwise, I am in similar stages of revision. I'm hoping that when I get the next draft to my agent, she'll feel it is ready to send out to publishers.

  3. I'm sorry you had to go through all this angst however, a "holy-crap-page-turner" sounds pretty good to me.

    As for the next 'big idea', isn't that what writing is all about?

  4. Scott, I was worried for you a bit, but it looks like things are working themselves out, so yayayayay! Just keep the Big Idea filed away. It may turn into something great, you never know.

    I'm currently undergoing major revisions on Monarch. Not sure if you want to keep reading it now - the version I gave you. Up to you. I always do this. Bad habit.

  5. This is the way communication between me and my agent works:

    Me: Hey, here's the latest version. Hope you love it.

    Him: Me, too! Later!


    Him: Hey, this is great, but I just noticed that the highlighted stuff in the attached doc isn't working at all and you need to deal with it. Let me know if you want to chat about it. Call me on my cell!

    Me: (aside) You philistine! You hater of art! You...you...you agent!

    Me: (to agent) Okay, I'll see what I can do.


    Me: (aside) Wow, this sucks. This is such crap. I can't fix this. I can't even stand to look at it. I should just throw this whole book away and concentrate on the next one.

    Me: (to agent) Pushing some ideas around; let you know how it goes!


    Me: (aside) This is such fucking crap, I can't believe I wrote it. This is the worst...hey, what if I...That's not bad...yes!

    Me: (to agent) I've got it figured out; I'll send you revisions in a couple of months!

    Him: Sounds good! Stay in touch! Happy to talk if you need to!

    Conclusion: I have gone entirely mad.

  6. Scott, you ARE writing about crazy people in your book, you know. This is all normal. I think...

    We're writers. What more would you expect?

  7. Ivana: I figured that the day after you sent me the MS, you'd start making changes. It's what I do. "We're writers. What more would you expect?" I heard that somewhere recently.

  8. Been following your blog since you joined Backspace and Oh... I feel for you!

  9. That's fantastic that you have it all figured out at least. Nothing left but all the working.

  10. That's right: it's all over but the actual work! And there will be a lot of that for this revision, darn it.

  11. Congratulations on your Big Idea. :D Don't you just love when those happen?