Action Figures – Progress Report #9

It’s a decision I did not want to make and was hoping to avoid, but it has to be done: I have to re-write the entire second half of Action Figures.

That’s not entirely true, strictly speaking; I don’t have to re-write it, but I would be an idiot not to. I’d be a bigger idiot to submit what I have now to the agent.

To recap, for those who have not read previous posts on this project: to satisfy the agent’s desire for a longer manuscript — as in, double the length of my first submission — I took what I’d intended as the second book and grafted it onto the first, and tried to tie it together with a stronger character arc for Carrie, the main character. I was pleased with the end result; it read sort of like a full season of a continuity-heavy TV series — episodic but with elements that unified the whole.

Pleased, yes. Confident? No. Not at all.

As the time to re-submit drew closer, I continually second-guessed whether my current manuscript was up to snuff. I worried that the abrupt change halfway through the novel was simply clumsy and, despite the story elements snaking throughout the entire story, would feel to the reader like I’d taken two very different stories and smooshed them together (which, of course, is exactly what I did).

While a couple of test-readers thought it worked well, another voiced almost every unspoken concern I had, and that was enough to convince me, as tough as it would be to go back to the drawing board AGAIN, it was what I had to do if I wanted to blow the agent away.

The good news is, there is a lot of material I can salvage and apply to the new section. The added length allowed me to explore the characters more — something else the agent wanted to see — and much of that is still viable with fairly minor tweaking. What needs to be deleted and replaced is any main plot material that has no connection to the first half of the story.

This means taking some long-range story plans I had and transplanting them, perhaps even introducing elements I’d not planned to introduce until later on in the series, which means re-jiggering the entire series to some degree, but the resulting hurdles are something to worry about later. Right now, I need to worry about taking a novel that is 75 percent “there” and getting it to that 100 percent mark.

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