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Author Topic: Starting with the old when you're new?
rjzeller
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Okay, so we hear constantly in various writer's circles that there are certain rules an aspiring author must adhere to (or at least consider greatly) if they wish to attract the interest of a reputable editor.

We're told to avoid Quest fantasy. It's too Tolkeinish, it's been done before, and it simply isn't original enough anymore.

We're told to keep books short for your first submission as editors are more likely to accept a smaller text than a larger one.

Of course, there are others; but these are those which I am concerned with right now. You see, I have a project which is definitely quest fantasy and which will definitely be a sizeable work when it's finished. I've tried tackling smaller projects first, but my brain relentlessly draws back to this particular story. It's as though the creative Rich won't allow the practical Rich to do anything else until this work is finished.

So should I just move on, then, and complete it and hope for the best? Or should I plunge forward with another (smaller) work and get established before tackling the "been there, done that" project?


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ChrisOwens
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I'm not an expert, published, or any of the above, but I say go for it. Isn't it just a type of plot? As long as you do it well and it doesn't feel deritive...
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Slartibartfast
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One school of thought would say that the art is what matters, and you should pursue that big project until you get good ideas for smaller ones.
Of course, being published would be nice too.

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Pyre Dynasty
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Go with what you love. If you are writing something that you aren't enjoying it will show. Worry about selling it after your done.
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Zero
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I agree fully. Enjoy the art of writing. Don't let the business aspect overshadow the passion. My attitude is "screw getting published or not I'm writing my story!" and then afterwards, provided you get there, then you can consider marketing.
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Alethea Kontis
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Never say never!

Kick Practical Rich in the butt. He'll never get anything worthwhile published.

(heh...I just said never...)


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dee_boncci
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My way of looking at it is that it has taken so long to complete a novel that I would be best off deliberately doing something unfashionable at the start, because by the time I finish it would be "in" again.

Hopefully, you won't have that problem.

I would suggest writing the story you're most drawn to. There's a lot of work involved. It would probably be worthwhile to have both your heart and mind involved.


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Survivor
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The rule is short stories, long books. And if quest fantasy is dead....
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rjzeller
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Well, I hope you're right, Survivor. But I'm quite sure I've read in multiple circles that because of concerns regarding stocking and shelf space, many publishers prefer shorter novels from first-time authors.

As for it being derrivitive, it definitely is not. No trolls, dwarves, or elves; no all-powerful enemy; no blanket good vs. evil characters (yes, of course there ARE good and evil elements, but we're not talking the Sauron-wants-to-destroy-the-world bit here...even the "bad guys" have their redeeming qualities). And quest would be a loose application of the term, but a quest it nevertheless is.

Appreciate the advice. And yes, I'll forge ahead. I've already finished a considerable amount of it and when I realized it was going to end up being a fairly large story, I paused to reconsider.

But maybe that's what the editing process is for, eh? Follow the Stephen King bit about knocking ten percent off the finished product.


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J
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I'm facing a similar situation myself. The plot is pretty creative, and not at all a farmboy-goes-on-a-quest story; but it probably looks enough like one in the first 2 or 3 pages to get thrown out on those grounds by a busy editor with a big slush pile.

My solution: write it anyway. After I'm finished I plan to think of useful ways to suggest the plot originality (which becomes apparent about 25% of the way through) in the first couple of pages for the benefit of that hypothetical editor.


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Robert Nowall
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Write what you want to write...then worry about marketing it. If you want to write a long quest novel, do so.

Don't leap onto a publishing fad because you hope to sell something---unless that fad already matches your inclinations.

"Fad" would account for why publishers over, say, the last twenty-five years, have put out so many, as is said elsewhere in these posts, "Tolkien clones." But the bulk of the writers, the vast majority I think, wrote these books because that was what influenced them. It was what they wanted to do.


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Lynda
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I've read that first-time authors are allowed up to 120,000 words in their novels, so I've been working within that constraint. My story is also a long-form fantasy, so I've broken it into three books. I have a few elves and fairies, but don't get into that stuff much. It's mostly a human story but with magical elements. But I had to laugh about the "farm boy goes on a quest" comment, since my boys were forced to live on a ranch for their formative years, LOL! But there's no "quest" in my novel, just a really bad villain. I can't work out how to give him a redeeming quality, quite honestly. I've been researching serial killers to try to base my villain's character on that type of psychology, and the only thing serial killers usually have going for them is either good looks or charm. I've given him good looks that are being destroyed by his evil nature. Hopefully that's enough. . . making him charming would make me barf!!

In response to your post, though, write what you want and if it's too long, make it a trilogy! Or a series!!

Lynda


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