So I drew a diagram of just exactly what it feels like to try and get published.
I'm lost at sea at the moment. My very ability to tell a good tale has been, for the first time, really, cast into doubt... self-doubt. I mean, I never thought I was the next Tolkien or anything, but I did at least think I could spin a pretty good yarn.
Now... not so much.
I've begged a ginormous favour of someone I know who has been, and continues to be, published. She's reading my manuscript for me, and giving me an honest opinion of whether it's good... or not.
I'm chewing my nails for the fret.
What if it really isn't very good at all?
What if I can't actually write?
What the hell am I supposed to do then?
I'm feeling lost and adrift... just like I did when I found out I needed glasses and couldn't fly fighters; directionless, listless.
Until the most excellent, I-owe-her-tonnes-and-tonnes, author gets back to me, there is little I can do except continue to write.
And ask everyone's opinion on something. The agent who most recently rejected my manuscript (without actually reading it) had this to say:
It looks like you have a single story arc that you split... you had a six page synopsis and split each page into a book.
The thing is, it's not that far from the truth. I do have a single story arc. Julian's story. This series is all about how a innocent and gentle child became on of the greatest, and most feared, heroes in all of history. It's a long journey. A great deal happens to poor Julian before he gets to be that terrifying hero.
While I would love to hand in a single volume on Julian's life, a 600 000+ word manuscript seems a little... extreme.
So I broke down Julian's journey into individual steps, each major step on his journey getting it's own book. In The Third Prince, Julian is sent to Medrim to become a soldier as a punishment. He starts off a very poor soldier indeed, but grows to become the best damned warrior Medrim has ever seen. Clue: the use of the word 'damned' here was very deliberate.
The series looks like this, essentially:
... only better drawn. 'A' represents the very beginning, 'G' the very end, and each dot along the way the major steps Julian took getting from A to G. For example, b represent Julian as (basically) a super soldier. The black lines are, therefore, each a book.
Now here's my question for you:
Does that seem an unreasonable way to go about constructing a series? No flattery. Be honest. This is stuff I need to know, even if it hurts a little... or a lot.
The other issue was the ending of The Third Prince. To spoil the book completely, Julian fights a demon in single combat - and defeats it. It almost costs him his life, but he is saved from certain death by a... well, by someone. The book closes with Julian alive, but unconscious.
Is this a terrible ending for a book? The agent stressed that cliff-hangers were not allowed at the end of books, though the book might be part of a series. She's probably right, though I would argue. That might just be me getting defensive though. So, seriously, is that a terrible ending?
Again, no flattery allowed. Be honest.
Well, now I'm going to disappear into writing and try very hard to not read the answers until lunch hour. Until then, then.
It probably means as easy as turning over the leaf [page] of a book... or tracing a lady's name on the table with spilt wine. With a wet finger, easily, readily.
- Walter Skeat's Glossary of Tudor and Stuart Words, 1914