Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Do I Overwrite??

So, I finally had the resolve to open up the synopsis response email and it wasn't nearly as tragic as I feared (which is good since I was fearing a massacre of Jurrasic proportions). She told me that my premise was saleable - once again not the genre I specified though - and suggested some changes that I can easily fix.

So, why am I not over the moon then? Well, she also told me that it seems like I overwrite and she thinks there's a good book in there but it took a scythe to get it. Now I did throw a few sentences in there that didn't tell what was happening with the plot to try and convey a sense of my style and if synopsis is all about word conservation then i get that.

But what if that's not just it? What if she's telling me that I overwrite all the time, that my book is a great big mess of a jungle that no one is ever going to hike through because it's just too much trouble? Now I understand that if I ever get this damn thing on a bookshelf it won't be what it is now but i think I'd rather never get it there if it means going for word economy and cutting out everything that's special about it. Maybe I just need to find the right agent, the right publisher to go take the chance but this doesn't seem like the path of great risktakers if everyone is only worried in what will sell right now.

So the question is - am I delusional? Do I overwrite? I know that I think the beautiful nature of the words is the most important thing but I don't think they're purple, not just there to take up space and ramble and complicate things. If that's how I want to evoke an image or a feeling, why can't I?

Man, if this is how much stress and second guessing I have now, imagine if this actually ever happens. I will become the biggest basketcase that ever lived or learn the get over what other people think. There's a lesson in there somewhere I think -it just might take a scythe to fine it.

-- Post From My iPhone


Jenny said...

At what point does style become purple prose? This is something I've, oddly enough, thought about in context of *my* work-- I end up sending these novella-length emails giving status and flowing out information that I get the feeling no one reads because they're so long, but I feel like it's better that they have too much information than too little, I can plan out what I say and check myself before I say the wrong thing. It just makes me wonder if I've been going about this whole "communication" thing the wrong way for my entire life...

But, enough about me. I don't know the answer to your question (but I'm about to launch into novella-length theorizing).

I would think that for a novel, you need a lot of description and stylistic flairs to make your words unique. When I see the word "overwriting" (without explicitly knowing what it might mean), I think either:

a) the prose is too purple-y (which I *really* don't know the solution for),

b) there's too much extraneous information that doesn't add to the book's atmosphere, plot, or characterization, or

c) maybe the characters and situations themselves are too overthought... like, maybe you came up with several great reasons for someone to do something, so you put them all in there in hopes that the reader will agree with at least one of them?

I don't know, I'm just guessing here. I haven't actually read a Valerie-story in a long time (aagh, I still have the fishstick man sitting in my email, and I HAVEN'T READ IT-- bad friend, bad!!) but if you want, I can try to read it with the phrase "overwriting" in mind and try to see if I can find examples.

BTW, Val, I'm SO PROUD OF YOU! This is so exciting, even if the process is scary and nerve-wracking! I'm sending you good novel-writing vibes!

Do I get extra credit now?

Valerie said...

Oh, you TOTALLY get extra credit. I'm sending a few gold stars your way girl! :)

(And I have that same problem at work - I always think ALL the information is more important than too little but I know I send emails people don't read. But if the solution is a meeting, which is the lesser of two evils?)

I am thinking she was saying A and not B or C. But it sent me into a tailspin because it's really hard for me to try to take any advice ON MY STORY when she hasn't READ MY STORY. All she has is 700 other words I gave her. The 700 words I can fix - to 76,000 I'm not sure I want to. I *like* it the way it is.

And if you have time, I would love for you to read about the "fishstick man" and tell me what you think. But you have novella-length emails to write about staus and flow so I get it if you don't have time. :)

And keep sending the good novel-writing vibes. I'm starting a new one so I can use them! :)