So this morning was the big meeting with the literary agent. Not “my” literary agent, mind you, but “a” literary agent. I had previously submitted the first chapter of my novel and this was the one on one critique session, all part of the writer’s conference I have been attending. Ready for the gory details?
The key phrase heard was “You are sitting on a great story in a very marketable genre, it just needs revision.”
I would have been happy with “It only sucks a little.” This was so much better!
She was kind enough to explain how she differentiated between a great story (mine) and a great novel (not yet mine.) It all has to do with character development. The analogy she used was Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. Everyone knows Don Vito Corleone and his boys killed (or had someone kill) many people, and if the book stressed “he killed him, and then they shot them, and then someone got this horse head, etc.” it would be a good story.
But what do people remember?
They remember the Godfather was a kindly old grandfather with a cat on his lap. They remember a ruthless mafia boss who demanded and received unchallenged respect. They remember how his family becomes divided, and how upset Vito becomes seeing the old ways being replaced by newer, less traditional ones. True, he was a mafia Don, but by the end, readers were almost feeling sorry for him.
So I have a great action plot. And the protagonist has some character development. But what I need to do is create a novel that builds her character throughout, staying focused on the traditional formula of do something, have a setback, do something more, have another setback, do something further, then succeed. I admit, I have too much of this going on and it does create a lack of focus. These agents, not as stupid as you may think.
The bottom line is I need to create the memorable character who reader’s can immediately connect with, and stay connected to throughout the entire novel. The action sequences are nice, but secondary. The agent gave me a few authors to read, starting with John le Carré. All in all – well worth the $40.
So what to do now? Order the books and set up a reading schedule. Until then, I need to get back to the homework. I am waaaaaay behind and the final exam is rapidly approaching. To that end…
Next week – another installment of Witt Kepler, Private Eye.