Sit down. Write novel. The End.
Yes, you can do that. I did … twice! But the stars aren’t always going to align for new writers. That first try, the second, third and so on may just be building to that great piece you know you have in you.
And yes, I KNOW I have that great piece in me. Write and practice and revise and edit and query and take stock of rejections and page requests. In every part of this process, I’m trying to identify growth. It’s a novel, it’s art, it’s subjective … but only to a point. We can all do better and we know it when we see it, whether agents or editors buy into the whole book is a different story and it isn’t up to you.
The writing is up to you, and improving each time is up to you.
I have two manuscripts and zero agents. Does that mean I’m 0-2? No, because there are great things in the first one and even better things in the second. Take time to identify where you’ve improved and what’s better and why it’s better.
Then, when you start another project, you can take those little successes with you. For example, my first ms was mostly about plot and concept. I love the plot, I love the concept. The action is watching the characters get tossed around by what they’re faced with.
So when I look back at it, I pat myself on the back for concept (not to mention just writing 70K words in the first place!)
With my second ms (now being queried), I can see the growth. I again love the concept and enjoy pitching it. Actual joy in pitching it.
The real growth was in characters. They are much more interesting and 3-dimensional, and they have to be. While the concept is the backdrop, the real action in this story is character interaction. I’m proud of this story and its characters. In a recent twitter pitch contest, I spent half the time tweeting AS one of my characters.
Again, it’s all subjective, but I know this: The best thing I’ve done as a writer is create a character named Aniyah. I adore her, feel for her, feel her words come out of me without having to be prompted. I never have to say, “What would Ani think of that?” Her reaction is on the page already. It’s automatic.
I love both manuscripts and have great faith in them. But at the end of the day, if I end up with two manuscripts and zero agents, I can smile and say, “This time, I took character development to the next level and created a real gem.”
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