Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Manuscript Read Through

As I mentioned in my post on revising, I have a completed manuscript sitting on my bookshelf. I finished writing this story probably in February. It's a middle grade fantasy book that is around 52,000 words. Since February, I have not touched the manuscript. The story has never been too far from my mind since in March I wrote the sequel (crazy that I finished the sequel before I revised the original, but that's what I did), but I have not read the specific words. Since April I have not even allowed myself to dabble in the same world, instead working on other projects I have lying around. (That and focusing on finals and then my job. It's amazing how school and work can sometimes provide a good distraction). Anyway, today - just now in fact - I read through the entire story again.

A complete read through of the story is a good thing to do before you start revisions, or so I have read from authors and agents. Since my story is only 50,000 words long it took me approximately two hours (that's with stopping for a cookie break). I read through it, making some minor grammatical corrections that were going to bother me if I didn't break out the read pen, but did not really consider any major plot changes. So my initial thoughts after this read through?

I think its a great story and deserves to be published. Am I biased? Maybe. Have I read a lot of middle grade fantasy in my day and know what's going on with the genre? Yes.

My one big worry is the classification of "middle grade". It's high fantasy, but no dragons. The main character is twelve, but the other primary character is nineteen. Some of the ideas discussed - poverty, politics, and it hints at some darker aspects of a city underworld - are a little more than most MG (middle grade) fantasy tends to deal with. But the number one thing that seems to separate MG fantasy from YA fantasy is that YA always seems to have a romance focus. There is no romance in my story. I think a middle schooler can more than handle my book. I could have in middle school. I started reading adult books in the 5th grade because "age appropriate" books were too stupid and condescending. I feel like I'm not condescending to my readers, but neither am I too grown up for them. My MC (main character) is a girl who is very unfamiliar with the world she suddenly finds herself in. She requires explanations from her older friend when it comes to many of the occurences. But when I wrote this story I didn't sit down and write a book for middle school children. I wrote it exactly like I wrote my books for adults. It just so happens that my MC is 12 and the themes of the story classify it as middle grade.

I wouldn't worry too much about the classification if it wasn't for the query process. In a query a writer should be clearly able to state a genre like "MG fantasy" or "paranormal romance" (which this is not. Wondering what a paranormal romance is? Pick up Twilight. Better yet, don't. I have yet to read it so I am not recommending it). I don't want the agent to read my query letter and think "MG fantasy, awesome" and then read my partial and think "wait this doesn't read anything like MG". Then I would get busted for not knowing my genre. I don't want to be denied on a technicality. (Granted my story should be awesome enough that if it was about skating monkeys and I claimed it was "chic lit" they wouldn't care because it was so completely awesome. And maybe my story is that awesome. But...rather to be safe than sorry.)

So what are the themes of my story, for those of you who are curious? Abandonment, trust, familial relationships, justice, love. Sounds cliche, doesn't it? Well, I don't think it is. Until it hits the shelves I'm not comfortable revealing too much about the plot, so I'll just leave you writhing in anticipation (unless the only people reading this are the people who have read it. Then you guys are set - no anticipation).

So this is where I am right now with my manuscript. I'll keep you updated as I start going through my friends' revisions and creating my own. I'm hoping to get quite a bit done this week.

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