Update on the Novel Process

Have no fear, Modern Philosophers, I am alive and well!

I appreciate that some of you have reached out to check on me since the blog has been so quiet in the new year.  I wanted to assure you that the blogging hiatus is because I am hard at work on preparing the first Bruno novel for submission to agents.

When I first queried the manuscript last summer, I received very few responses.  This led me to believe that I am either a horrible writer, or I hadn’t quite mastered the art of the query letter.

writing, querying, Modern PhilosopherIf you ask me, way too much emphasis is put on the letter asking (begging???) agents to consider a manuscript.  I am willing to concede that I am a screenwriter and TV writer, who knows very little about the ins and outs of the publishing business.  I haven’t been taught the secret handshake that needs to accompany a query letter, and I find it very frustrating that the letter is so essential to the process.

Regardless, I understand that it is a necessary evil, so I have revised my query letter.  Again and again.  I’ve never been good at selling myself or my work.  I’d rather the writing speak for itself.  After all, those are my words, too.  Why can’t my completed manuscript serve as my query letter?

I also just completed another edit of the manuscript.  Surprisingly, writing The Undisputed Champions of Texas for the blog has been a major help with this.  I now know my characters so much better, and I’ve been able to go back to the original story and give them more depth and better arcs.

My friend Lynn has been after me to make changes to Maggie, and I was very resistant at first.  However, I just completely rewrote the penultimate chapter of the manuscript because I realized that Lynn was right and I hated what I’d done with Maggie.

Bruno’s unique speaking style remains, but I made the executive decision to eliminate all his double negatives.  I found myself stumbling over them when reading, and I worried that they “dumbed him down” a little.  We can’t have Bruno sounding like Wally now can we???

writing, querying, Modern PhilosopherAs I’ve researched the query process, I’ve come to understand how much emphasis is put on the early pages of the manuscript.  Most agents want a small writing sample to accompany the query letter.  Sometimes, it’s just the first chapter, so I gave the opening chapter extra attention during my rewrite.  If I only get a few pages to grab their attention, I really need to give the agents a taste of the story and the characters right away.

Luckily, chapter one jumps right into the excitement with Bruno arriving on the crime scene to discover that the corpse has vanished.  Just last night, I added a new exchange between Bruno and Wally in the first pages that paints a much clearer picture of how the characters are perceived by their peers.  This new section now better sets up the arcs for both characters, and their growth is evident by the end.

One positive of the stupid (did I really call it that???) query letter process was that in trying to craft the perfect letter, I came to better understand Bruno’s journey.  His secret past, which was only hinted at in the original draft, is emphasized much more in the rewrite.  The prologue, which I’d originally written to show Bruno kicking a little ass, is now the key to the entire series of books I plan to write.

Truth be told, I’m nervous about moving forward.  If this batch of queries goes ignored, I’m going to have to assume (accept???) that the problem is my writing and that being a published novelist is not in my future.  I’ve had my screenplays made into movies, I write for a TV show, and now the next goal on my writing bucket list is to have a novel published.

If anyone has any insight into the querying process, or wants to suggest an agent I should approach about my manuscript, I would greatly appreciate it.

I wanted to thank everyone who’s been so supportive of this project.  The feedback you’ve given me on the blog has been invaluable.  I consider you to be my Beta readers, and the story has improved exponentially because of your comments.

I am especially thankful to those of you who take time out of your lives to read pages and let me talk out ideas with you outside of the blog world.  You know who you are, and you are my superheroes!

I will continue to keep you posted…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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12 Responses to Update on the Novel Process

  1. kristianw84 says:

    I have high hopes for you, Austin!! 🤞

  2. beth says:

    I wouldn’t even know where to begin, so I’m no hope other than to cheer you on as you go through the process. best of luck!

  3. markbialczak says:

    Completely from left field, Aaron: sending a query letter to an agent sounds a lot like the Hollywood side of the writing business to my layperson’s ears. In the novel publishing side, do not writers send query letters direct to the publishing houses? You most likely have researched the heck out of this and know more than I about it …
    But I see all those novels on the shelves of the library and I can’t quite put my head around all of the authors having to find an agent first to sell them to a publisher. What a racket.

    • Austin says:

      Mark, do you mind if Austin answers this, rather than Aaron, seeing as how the latter is only a fictional character? 🙂

      I had to do the same thing when I was a new screenwriter. Query letters to agents asking them to read my screenplay. I was bad at it then, and I’m bad at it now.

      Luckily, I got some breaks, my screenplay got discovered, and I was able to use existing contacts to move forward. I didn’t have to query again.

      But now I’m new to the publishing world, and I’m starting from scratch…

  4. Pingback: Hidden on the ground – A Silly Place

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