Thursday, April 5, 2012

Insecure Writer’s Day

I’ve been fortunate enough to have plenty of literary agents read over my manuscript, and although I got plenty of enthusiasm back I didn’t get any “yes, we’ll sign you” answers. In fact, I got several, “we’d be willing to look at this again once you make some large scale changes.” Which sounds okay, I suppose, but puts me in something of a creative limbo.

Some of these suggested changes call for me to eliminate my multiple points-of-view in my story, de-emphasize my male characters, and cut out portions I found interesting while adding segments that don’t really appeal to me as the core of my story. It’s got me doubting myself, since much of what made the story really thrilling for me apparently is what agents don’t consider sellable. It’s put me in a bit of a funk with my manuscript, so I’ve taken a break from it to write other stories in the meantime.    

How do you balance what you find interesting versus what other people like in a story? When do you stick to your guns on a point, and when do you compromise? How do you clear your head and get back to just being you again when putting your creativity onto the page?  


  1. I'm having this issue right now as well. The difficulty is that writing is a business, but authors don't want to publish for the money. I want to publish to share myself with the world, and when I get caught in the marketing crossfire, it almost feels like I'm lying because I'm not telling what seems like the 'real' story to me.

    I try talking to my editors when we come to issues like that. Compromise is important, but if anyone thinks they can write your story better than you, you're better off signing with someone else.

  2. Fortunately I never had to make any big changes. I'd say don't do anything that destroys the essence of your story.

  3. If the changes destroy the soul, no point , may as ell right to the trend...maybe a fresh read by a writer friend could let you see if the changes are indeed necessary, or go with Indie press .

  4. Heavens, this is embarrassing, meant to say may as well sell the rights to the trend.

  5. It's a difficult decision to make, whether or not to change some things. As for clearing my head, I've found looking at old notes and outlines of the story (if they're still around) can help to reconnect with the original idea.

  6. It is difficult, but I would trust your instincts and make those changes that you agree with. The industry is way too subjective and what one person loves, another would change.

  7. You're in a tough spot. If you're getting similar feedback from several agents then they might be on to something. But if it's just one, even two, then they might not be right for you. I think it's a big difference if they're asking for more character development, but something else if they want your story of love and betrayal to become one of pirate gold and machine guns.

  8. If you feel in your gut that what they are asking for is wrong for the story, then it's probably wrong for the story.

  9. Yep, that can be a challenge. There's always the option to indie publish, if you're confident with your story as it is. There will be readers. There are many books that don't fit in the narrow view of the Big Six.

  10. I think you just need to find the right agent still. There are other history fans out there like you (me) who want those parts of the story. Speaking for myself, I can't write something I'm not feeling. If I didn't agree with the changes, I wouldn't make them. Not if they compromised the story I wanted to tell.

  11. I agree with Alex, please don't make the changes that destroy the essence and soul of the story.

    And I also agree with Donna, the Big Six are difficult to break into unless our writing fits the mould that they have designed for themselves. Try a couple of indie publishers.

    I feel that there is an agent out there for you somewhere.

  12. Time is the best thing for you at this time. Then you'll be able to look at the problem with a clearer head. I know many authors have refused to change certain elements of their stories and they still found success.

  13. McKenzie- “the Marketing crossfire”…a great way of putting it. Thanks for the good advice.

    Alex – Sounds like good common sense, thanks:)

    Rekha – You’re right, it has to feel right to the soul first.

    Eagle – I’ll do that. Looking at old notes and outlines can help me “reconnect” with myself.

    Donna – Yup, I feel my instincts have gotten a bit muddled lately, but I’ll keep at it.

    Rusty – Yeah, it’s a little of both to be honest. Several just don’t like having multiple points of view in a story in general, which is something I really like in stories.

    Sarah – Yeah, I’m willing to compromise, but I’ve definitely gotten the gut feeling against some things lately.

    Donna – I’ll keep an open mind towards indie publishing, but I figure if I can make something that works for the big six it should work for everyone.

    L.G. – Thanks for the reminder, sometimes I forget there are other history fans out there:)

    Rachna – Thanks, your good vibes are always a big help:)

    Lynda – I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ll definitely give it some time and write some other stuff in the meanwhile. Thanks!