Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is this your first novel?

So, wandering around the blogosphere, i was happy to see Janet Reid's blog has been recovered and is active as ever. Skimming over the BEA posts, i came across these two posts 'Is this your first novel?' and 'How soon is too soon' :

2. It's your first novel. No matter how hard it is to hear and follow this advice, it's probably the best advice I'll ever offer: write a second novel before you query on the first one. You'll learn so much while writing that second novel that you'll go back and either revise or discard Novel #1. AND you won't have all the baggage from those damn form rejections to weigh you down
I think all of us prepublished writers, especially novice ones believe (and hope) that our first WIP will be 'the novel' that gets published. I'd like to know what people think of the above comment?

Personally, i think Janet is dead on. Although it makes me want to cry like a little girl, the likelihood is that my first WIP will be the biggest load of 'dialogue tag' with a dash of 'purple prose' crap to see the light of day. I think for me personally, the hardest part of the above advice is not instantly sending off queries as soon as my editing is finised.

Self-restraint is not my forte, certainly when you want feedback or validation or whatever (even if its rejections).

Apart from this though as i've mentioned before, my current WIP is not 'my baby'. I deliberately decided to write one of my other ideas (rather than the one i really want to write) so that my current wip would teach me 'how i write' and what 'outlining/ploting' etc suits me so that i will know that when i approach some of the ideas that have been festering for years, that i will be at the top of my game?

Does this make sense? or do i sound nuts?


Clare C. Greenstreet said...

seeing as I'm writing more than one book at a time I think I'm way past the first novel stage. Wouldn't mind having Power Of Friendship and Tori Susan Evans published at around the same time. Those two series are my babies. I'd love them to be the best loved series, even though Extreme Team and Pardise Boys will be longer series so have more chance of getting a big following.

Danyelle said...

I totally agree. I have two novels that were practice novels. I learned from them, and they will forever be guarded by killer dust bunnies. The biggest thing they showed me was that I really can start and finish a novel. :D

Amanda said...

She's right. I wrote my first novel, and by the time I finished, I knew it was total crap. That made me so sad, but i recognized that it was practice. I later wrote the first 40k words of another novel, and realized it was just more practice, but I learned tons from it. My second and third full novel are much, much better. The third was actually a complete rewrite and reworking of the first, so it's not like it was a total waste of time. I think Janet Reid is dead on.

I_am_Tulsa said...

I wondered about this too. I've never written a "novel" and the one I am writing now is not the one that I ever planned to write either. I'm hoping that my short stories and essays have been good practice for this step towards writing one.

I'm also piecing together a non fiction book and I hope that this will also help me get better at the craft.

I guess, I'll never know till I actually finish one of these things and have someone else read it too!

The thought that my first novel can not be sold will not stop me from at least trying!

Casey said...

It's awesome advice. How can you go wrong? Even though you hear about the occasional first-novel success, the likelihood that you'll be in that category is slim-to-none. And if you are? You'll have two books to lay on an agent's plate after they show interest in whichever one you've chosen to query first.

The only thing you might lose is time but a) you can't rush this business anyway, and 2)you might lose just as much time trying to query a novel that isn't up to par.

1stdaughter said...

I think this is great advice. I have a friend who wrote her first novel and after edits and feedback decided to scratch the whole thing and start over, even though she loved the story. In the end she's come up with something wonderful and she feels like she's accomplished a lot by going back to the drawing board. Thanks for the insight!

Emily Cross said...

wow i'm delighted to see everyone agrees with this advice. I knew that 'quantity produces quality' but i never thought of 'not' querying my first novel - but i think JR is right and i'm going to try and take her advice!

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