Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Dogs of War

Sela Carsen has a lovely rant on How Not to Be A Writer, and Nessili makes a sotto voce comment on gathering the courage to submit. I can relate.
Sometimes, a writer feels like a dog chasing a car.
What do you do with it after you've caught it?
In other words, you've passed Stage I, you've finished the book, you've caught the car.
You've edited the thing tohellandback, so you've passed Stage II, ie. you've sniffed the wheels, all around.
Then, before you let slip the dogs (hound, mechanical, or otherwise) you contemplate Stage III.
Pitching the thing, either overhand to an editor or underhand to an agent, you don't want your aim to be off, and leave you missing the mark with just a piddle in the street.
Some writers are prepared to charge like a junkyard dog, tearing off hunks of B.F.Goodrich in full attack mode. May their aim be sure.
Others are a little more cautious about ...er...lifting their leg, feeling their genitalia is particularly vulnerable in this position, so to speak.
And considering the vulgar direction this particular figure of speech has taken I'm sure you'll all be more comfortable if I abandon it. It's just that I can't help being irreverent about the whole process sometimes. My apologies.
So, is this hiatus procrastination or common sense?
Do you know just what it is that you have written?
In passing, Miss Snark, la Dame extraordinaire, has made reference to the fact that sometimes she has had to gently tell an author that they have not written what they think they have written. In passing, many big wheel agents and editors suggest we define our categories.
I hope you are a smarter pup than I.
I thought I had written a fantasy. You see, it has a species of time travel in it. Of a peculiar sort. No discussion of worm holes, quantum physics, wand waving wizards, time gates, artifacts and such.
It just happened. The main character is more concerned in why it happened, not how. In fact she is more concerned with just dealing with the situation and figuring out the rest later.
On inspecting the criteria, I realized that nooo, it wasn't a fantasy. Besides, it had other plot stuff in it.
And then I thought, well, maybe it's a romance, maybe it's a paranormal romance. But then my main girl is not interested in snogging her remote ancestor, she has lovely, dirty thoughts about a very present guy. So that convention doesn't apply. No Twelfth Century nookie. No what hae a laddie gae - under his kilt.
And then I thought perhaps I should describe it as a romantic thriller. There's this current, fanatic Islamic assassin, you see, a modern parallel to her adventures in the past, and
she's sort of a cross between Temperance Brennan and Mrs. Polifax.
Which raises yet another question.
Do you flog it as a stand-alone, single title, or as a series? Heroine is good for two or three books, considering the historical potentials and certain unresolved questions she has about post-widowhood commitment and alpha males in general.
Houston? Come in, Houston...
So I'm temporarily muzzled until I figure this out.

1 comment:

jason evans said...

Amen, sister. I've struggled with genre categories so much that it makes me want to throw up.