Archive for September, 2015

Draft Three Completed

Hammersmith, Bailey and Hark - Wonderful.

Hammersmith, Bailey and Hark – Wonderful.
Image from

That’s it, then. Draft Three, the polishing draft, of Wonderful is complete. After feedback from my editor, the only thing that really hurt was changing the ending, but as it turns out, she was so ridiculously right I’m a little gobsmacked I couldn’t see it myself. So, big thumbs-up to editor Sam on that one, and proof if proof were needed that you should always get a set of professional eyes on your work, even when your day-job is casting a set of professional eyes over other people’s. You’re simply too close to your own work to make solid editorial judgments 100% of the time.

The book’s gone out to a few friends for beta-reading as we speak, and I’m getting some feedback that’s making me think seriously about the beginning. To show the behind-the-scenes action, or to leave it mysterious in the first chapter? Hmm.

It’s possible this is a viable concern, and that the behind-the-scenes…erm…scenes in Chapter 1 are giving a false impression of the book as a whole. But it’s also entirely possible that I’m just finding ways to stall myself from sending the book out into the world, where it has to stand or fall to judgment by others. I might take just one more look at just that first chapter. Then off it goes – I’ve been through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook today, selecting my first handful of agents to try it out on. After the advice I got at York though, and if I’m honest, the advice I’ve pretty much given myself having read through it for Draft Three, I need to alter the tone of my synopsis and covering letter. I’ve always thought that what I was writing was a comic fantasy. But I’m not sure you can still get away with calling it that when it covers the persecution of Galileo, when it goes to Ethiopia in 1985, and when one of its key scenes takes place in an Auschwitz gas chamber. Besides, if I came away from York with one message ringing in my ears it was that the writing was great – but comic fantasy is the hardest thing in the world to sell.

The synopsis and the letter need to change – but this is something I’m sure isn’t me stalling. This is me trying to give it the best chance of being understood, marketed and eventually sold. Knowing the difference between stalling and perfecting is probably important. Getting the hell on with it is even moreso.

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Three Agents

Hammersmith, Bailey and Hark - Wonderful.

Hammersmith, Bailey and Hark – Wonderful.
Image from

I completed Draft Two of Wonderful the night before going to the Festival of Writing at York. The net result of York was that I spoke to three agents. One specializes in fantasy, but wondered if the opening wasn’t perhaps trying too hard to be jazz-hands funny. He also said I needed to figure out who the extra market for the book would be, given that comic fantasy was the hardest thing in the world to sell, even when, as he kindly put it, it was genuinely funny, as mine was, and the writing was damn good, as mine was.

The second was a substitute for the guy I was supposed to see from her agency. She loved everything about it – absolutely everything. But she doesn’t represent fantasy. She did give me the name of the guy at her agency who’s building a fantasy list though, and tell me to contact him.

And the third was a guy I’d met before. I can’t help liking the guy – he’ll happily tell you he’s going to bullshit a crowd, just before going to do it. And he enjoyed the sample I presented too, but said this: ‘Fantasy’s only about five per cent of my list. I’ve only sold one comic fantasy before in my life. But I’m a gambler – there’s no reason you shouldn’t send this to me, but I can’t promise anything.’

As the last bit of Draft Two went to my pal and fellow editor Sam just before York, I’m going to do Draft Three, the polishing draft, before I send the book anywhere. But the feedback feels generally encouraging about the quality of the work – if less so about the state of the market.

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