Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did I Write That? (or These Books Better Not Be Published After I'm Famous and Dead)

Tip of the Day: Save all your writing drafts in three places: your hard drive, your thumb drive, and your email. You can't be too careful with your precious manuscripts!

For this week's post, I'm digging deep into the recesses of my hotmail account to dredge up an early draft of my first ever completed YA novel.

Just so you know, this is not a first draft. That would be too easy to post here for everyone to see -- I could simply add the caveat that OF COURSE there were glaring problems -- it's a FIRST DRAFT for goodness sake!

Alas, what you will see below is, ahem, revised and "polished" and sent to an agent who requested it back in March of 2006, when I did my first agent queries ever. (I have to say I am not at all sorry I don't have the draft that preceeded this which was sent to exactly one editor who requested it in the summer of 2005.)

The title of the novel at this point is also embarassing now bc it is too cryptic. Unless you know Vietnamese. Which you all do, I'm sure.


The novel is about 16-year-old Melanie whose 15-year-old adopted sister is pregnant with a 19-year-old boy's baby; Mel must keep the secret of the father's age or else her sister will be pissed -- even if it means that her own budding romance could be cut short by suspicions and jealousies.

And here's the winning excerpt from the March 2006 edition!

“Annie?” I say, knocking gently on her bedroom door. She doesn’t answer so I knock again, louder. “Come on Annie, please let me in.”

She still doesn’t respond so I open the door. Her favorite Dave Matthews Band CD is playing in her stereo, and she’s sitting at her desk where her sketchbook lays open to a page filled with a charcoal drawing of a winged girl in a long gown. Some lines of the drawing are blurred where it looks like a teardrop landed, similar to how my sweat-soaked final exams will look if the heat doesn’t break. Just one dim lamp is on in the corner of the room, and Annie’s holding the stick with the two blue stripes from the home pregnancy test up to the light.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” she says. She looks sad and sick and I’m not sure what to say. I’m sad, too, seeing my usually lively, happy, smiling sister so down. Just yesterday everything seemed OK. Just yesterday we were both happy.

Or at least I thought we both were.

I sit down slowly on the light pink comforter that covers her twin bed. I wonder briefly if this was where the baby was conceived, but then shake that thought out of my head, disgusted with myself.

“Is there anything I can do?" I ask. "Make you a batch of my chocolate peanut butter chip cookies?” I’m an excellent baker, which is probably a reason why I have a bit more of a stomach than Annie does – at least for now.

Now let's play What's Your Favorite Part of This Passage?
a) the nostalgic tone?
b) the unrealistic dialog between the sisters?
c) the inserted details irrelevant to the scene?
d) all of the above?

I know, I know, you're laughing. At least I hope you are instead of cringing and crying (that's what I'm doing as I read this). Let this be a lesson to me -- and all you others at the Recently Repped stage -- that sometimes it's a good thing that your first ever completed novel project did not get picked up and subbed....

I did revise this ms again in Feb 2007 and sent it to an editor who requested it. Yes, it is much better -- but her overall opinion was that it was a bit "soap operay." Hmmmm....that's better than horrendous! I still enjoy the idea of this novel and may revise it again someday....

Do tell me I'm not alone in the horror of the first novel submissions!

Deena, Miss Recently Repped


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

You are definitely not alone! BTW, aren't soap opera-y things hot these days?

Kate Fall said...

Oh, Deena, you're too hard on yourself! I'm going to tell you what I like about this passage. One, the present tense totally flows. Two, you didn't forget to tell us how your main character feels.

I agree with gg. Make the baby's father a falsely accused fugitive and make the sisters twins separated at birth but recently reunited, and this would be hot property, baby!

Lisa Schroeder said...

Deena, I actually like it. And I have to know - IS that where they did it, beneath the pink comforter? Inquiring minds want to know!

Emily Marshall said...

I didn't think it was bad either. A bit soap operaish with the plot. But I agree with Ghost Girl on that being popular now.

Anyway, I do agree that sometimes it's best our first novel wasn't picked up.

DeenaML said...

lol -- thanks, girls, for your kind insight. Hmmm...maybe I DO need to amp up the soap operaishness!

And Lisa, the child was conceived in...a motel room! Oooooh! :)