Thursday, March 29, 2012

Love and Hate, But Mostly Hate

As most of you know, I recently finished my fourth novel, Wucaii. It's with the beta readers right now, so I'll have more edits to do in a few weeks. I have mixed emotions about the book. I know us writers always have a love/hate relationship with our work, the high highs of actually getting it done, then the low lows of thinking it's crap.

My feelings lean more toward hate. This piece has been a burden for me for a long time. I started it when I was in high school, then in college, I workshopped it for a class. I had a vision of how I wanted it to read, but the professor didn't think it would work, so I rewrote it.

I didn't like how that version read. It was too slow. So after many years and several other projects, I decided to work on it again. I attempted to take it back to my original vision, but it didn't flow for me. I put it away again and worked out the details in my head. I decided to change it from a sword and sorcery fantasy into an urban fantasy.

It still has elements of the first version in the form of flashbacks and memories. I've never written a story like this, so I don't know how well it works. Do the flashbacks take away from the present action? Are they boring and convoluted? Are there too many of them? Should there be more?

On top of that, the story is only slightly over 68,000 words, and I've read/been told that agents/publishers won't look at urban fantasy unless they are 85,000-100,000 words long. I have a problem with that, but if it's true, I'm way short of the mark.

Editors, agents, and publishers always tell you to write what you want, and that's exactly what I do. Does that mean agents are chomping at the bit for my work? No. I can usually find a publisher, but that's beside the point. I understand the standard for fantasy--all genres and subgenres, really--has been these huge series of books. Look at Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, the Harry Potter series, and the list goes on and on.

Now, I'm not saying these books don't have their place or they are terribly written. They are great stories, but I don't have time to read them. I finished Eragon when my son was a baby--5 years ago. I attempted to start Eldest, but have never finished it. I started Game of Thrones, but didn't have time to get through it. I never had a desire to read Lord of the Rings, so I haven't picked them up. I tried to read the Hobbit once, but I couldn't get through it.

The problem with most of those books is that they are too long. Trying to read 600 pages would take me months, especially with all the other stuff I have to do. I really don't have time to read five or six books that long. For me, the ideal book is something short and entertaining, which is exactly what I write (at least what I hope I write). I do what I want when it comes to that, and I guess I'll have to be fine with agents not wanting it. With this book, though, I'm having a rough time. Maybe it needs to go in a drawer and ruminate for a while longer.

What about you? How do you feel about long series of fantasy stories?

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