Five Year Writing Goal
I’m taking part in Misha and Beth’s Five Year Project and my five-year goal is to write a novel and get it published. This is my update on progress this month.
Feedback on The Reluctant Scribe
A children’s literary agent kindly read my manuscript, The Reluctant Scribe, and she gave me very encouraging feedback. She said I have “created a compelling narrative, with a well-drawn setting and a beguiling central character.” This is fantastic news and really boosted my confidence.
She goes on to say, however, “I don’t think it will work as a teen novel.” The reasons, as she had previously discussed with me, are:
- The central character is too young to appeal to a teen audience. Little Zhang Ji is only 12, turning 13, during the course of the novel, and teenagers prefer to read about characters slightly older than themselves.
- The genre, historical fiction, is a disadvantage.
- The novel lacks an essential strong ‘hook’ to attract publishers.
To turn it into an adult novel, the agent suggested I might add an adult viewpoint, running alongside the voice of Zhang Ji. And I could mix up the timeline. These ideas certainly have merit, but I am worried about deviating from the simple POV I’ve chosen. I fear my horrible, intrusive, know-it-all narrator voice might start hijacking the narrative.
Next steps: turning the manuscript into a novel suitable for adult publication
Undaunted -(OK somewhat daunted but still undefeated)- I have done the following:
- Changed the title of the novel to “The Tang Warrior“, in the hope this is a catchier hook for an agent or publisher.
- Sent it into Jonathan Cape during their open submissions month.
- Attended a writing conference and noted down the name of an agent who might be interested in the themes within the novel.
- Asked WriteStars for help and arranged for an author of historical fiction to look at my novel and advise on how to turn my Reluctant Scribe and Tang Warrior into a publishable adult novel.
In the meantime, I am working on a short non-fiction book about improving your memory, which I may self-publish as an e-book.
And, I am thinking about my next fiction novel, possibly the novel I always intended to write about the adult life of Zhang Ji, provisionally entitled The Reluctant Eunuch
But July is Camp NaNoWriMo and I am going to try to write a 50,000 light-hearted romance. A brief outline is already done. I’m going to use Scrivenor – a truly wonderful programme – and am going to start fleshing out the outline into a proper synopsis shortly. The important thing, I think, is to get the timeline sorted out and decide which of my two main characters is going to narrate each section. I’ve never tried to write a romance before. Should be fun!