...and for those of you who know exactly what I'm talking about, and of course--wondering why I'd volunteer when I have projects up the wazoo--it's simple. I need to test drive my theories.
'sides? Have you ever had that feeling you were talking, and wondering if it was the way you were talking, or the other person? In other words, I test drove my ideas a month ago--on some poor unsuspecting person, and I noticed a few things.
Story consulting is hard. It's like this huge, amorphous "thing" with random edges. Say you have a story, and it's going along fine. But there are some set pieces, and bits you don't want to take out because "individually", they sparkle. And I'm not saying in this piece I looked at that the pieces didn't sparkle. There were some damned good bits, and some beautifully done scenes, but the plot holding all the bits together was...not where it needed to be. If a plot isn't working, it's time to tweak.
My plots are never set in stone because I'm not God. I can't see all the bits and pieces. If I discover a personality trait or characteristic which conflicts with my plot, or something I love that doesn't work? Like my fabulous (and understanding) editor says, "You can always use it somewhere else."
Hard work is never wasted.
I have this firefight. I know I annoy the hell out of Cowboy whining, "but it was a good firefight" It was a good firefight, and now it's a good firefight somewhere else.
In other words. You have to let go. And I can't force that on someone. If you coddle your baby, it's your baby. Until you can detach from--your soapbox, your favorite subject, your charity or simply an overabundance of beautifully done prose--that's what editors are for. If you show enough potential.
Sometimes, even the most beautifully done story isn't worth the sheer volume of time an editor sinks into your work, because--hey, there are lots of stories, and better stories, and stories where someone was able to take that step back. It's looking at your work with no expectations other than that the plot is the best it can be for those characters, and wherever you're trying to place the project.
People say targeting is good or not good, depending on whether you talk to someone who's for the book of your heart, or out for the money. I'm all for writing the book of your heart, but if it's not commercial, then--no, you won't sell to a mainstream press. It might be your heart on a plate, but enough people have to want to look at it to sell.
So--in my considered opinion, and I've been thinking about this for awhile--if you want to write the way you want, you have a choice. Write what you want and be realistic about your expectations. Or change what isn't working.
Say, you have a mummified Hawaiian priestess who loves shoes and blood, and has kinky sex in her lair, but is really waiting for the man of her dreams to go back in time to retrieve the magic elixir to restore her to life so she can be young and do bsdm without a squick factor? Then you have a ethnic horror chick-lit vampire bsdm time-travel. And while you might love it long time, you aren't going to place it with some high falutin' Pulitzer Prize winning imprint. The same goes for a first person present tense, but only in the heroine's point of view, because the hero and the neighbor, and the guy down at the 7-11 are all in rotating third--except for the cat who is in omni.
I'm not saying change who you are, or how you write--I'm simply saying, a plot device and genre conventions are only prisons if you perceive them that way.
In the same way I'm saying that streamlining a plot quirk, adding plot quirks, deleting characters, taking out (and saving for later) scenes that don't work, might be an easy way from pt A to Pt B, and I think maybe I was explaining it wrong.
I'm going to give it one more shot.