Thursday, January 15, 2009

Like A Puppet

After the last post, I have a good idea of where your lines lay. This post will be similar because I've been thinking about all the responses and running my mind ragged.

I've been wondering: What would you do to get get a contract from a traditional publisher?

Me? Man, I'd be like a puppet on a string.

Editor: Please change the heroine's name, Mrs. Nelson.

Me: On it!

Editor: And her occupation. And her hair color. Oh, and we need to lose the cat theme. It just doesn't work.

Me: No problem!

Okay, so on most things I would change the story because in many ways my writing is more of a strategic plan for a future career. I want to be paid to do something I love and if the story has to change from my original vision in order for that to happen, I'm okay with that.

However, since getting to know so many writers, especially inspirational ones, I've come to realize that for many of you writing is a calling. In some cases, a ministry.

So what would you do to your story in order to get it published? Would you completely change it?

24 comments:

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Love your blog this morning! Great dialogue.

It's my story and I'm always open to suggestions and constructive criticism, but in the end, it's still my story to tell and if the changes don't enrich the telling, then I won't do them!

Jessica said...

Hey Donna,
You're up bright and early! And no toddlers to blame! LOL Good for you.
True, it's definitely our stories. I don't think I'd feel pressured to change it, but would rather want to.
It's great that you would stick to your story like that. I've heard of some authors who felt pressured to change and later on regretted what they'd done.

Candi said...

Hey Jessica,

This is a great topic, one I think can only be truly appreciated once it happens to the writer.

I think that in most cases, the insignificant things in my stories are up on the chopping block. Like you - hair color or names or little details are fine. I would also not be adverse to reworking scenes or deleting scenes that just didn't work - especially if the agent/editor gave plausible reasons for editing them.

What I wouldn't budge on is the meaning I wrote into my story. The central theme or the spark of inspiration or emotion that I want my reader to take away from my work.

If an agent/editor thinks the premise or theme is unrealistic, I would try to work through the options, but in th eend, this is what I wrote and the reasons I wrote it are important to me. The message that comes from my books are what will set me apart as a writer and I won't budge on what people 'get' from me.

Strong words from an aspiring author, but true none the less. There are jst some things that I won't do to be published, and losing my message is one of them.

Like you - Jesus is important to your writing - the deeper meaning and human nature in my writing is what is important to me.

GREAT topic!
Have a great day,
Candi

Jessica said...

Hey Candi,
That was incredibly well said. I totally agree with you. You're right about the themes. Bridegroom's Revenge was about forgiveness. I wouldn't want to lose that.
Thanks for stopping by! I really appreciate your comment and think it will resonate with many commenters.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Okay, I'm going to tackle this one. I suspect I'd be willing to change 'incidentals', create new scenes, remove old ones, excetera, as long as the theme and underlying message still manages to come out of the story. If there's a more creative way to relay my message in an entertaining way, then I'd do my best to rise to the challenge.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jessica -

If an editor wanted me to leave out the inspiration elements on my book - no way. If they wanted stuff that I object to, i.e., occult practices, vulgar language, explicit sexual content, I'd have to find someone else.

I am looking into doing some general market articles like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Women's World. I'm not sure if they allow much in the way of references to God or Jesus.

My goals for writing are two fold. First and foremost, I want to bring Biblical truths to folks in the form of storytelling, personal experience articles, short fiction, and eventually speaking.

Second, I'd like to bring in some additional income. I'm concerned about balancing the two goals. I don't want the need for income to overshadow my primary purpose - ministering to the needs of people.

Blessings,
Susan

Jessica said...

Hi Eileen,
I like how you put it as rising to the challenge. That's a great way to look at it.

Jessica said...

Susan,
I suspect that you're right as to the balance issue.
Since you're pursuing a few general market publications, I bet that will come into play a bit, the balancing your worldview with a different one (possibly).
Great last paragraph!

Wow, all of you guys are so awesome! I ask a question and get some real nuggets of wisdom! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :-)

Kristen Painter said...

I'd be willing to change anything that didn't disrupt my moral compass.

Janna Qualman said...

Jessica, I hope not to repeat what others may have said, but I'm just getting past a migraine and can't bring myself to read through all the extensive comments... :)

I wouldn't change anything of huge relevance the first go round; that is, if it's only seen an editor or two, because the wished-for changes could merely be their opinion. But if I've had my story viewed by editor after editor, and they're ALL saying the same things, then I'd seriously consider the changes.

Great post!

Sarah said...

I'm kind of a pushover. I'd change anything to get published--except leave God out of my story. He's the one thing I won't compromise on.

anita said...

Wow. See, by chiming in late, I get to piggyback on Candi and Eileen's answers.

I feel exactly the same way as they do.

'Nuff said. :-)

anita said...

Ooh, and Kristen's, too. I like her answer also.

I'll have to make sure I pop in late every time. That way, the work's already done for me. Heh.;-P

Jessica said...

With you on that, Kristen.

Jessica said...

Hey Janna,
I hope your head gets better. :-(
Oh yeah, I would only change stuff it an editor with a house I wanted said, "Change it and I'll give you a contract."
LOL

Jessica said...

Me too, Sarah. That's why I probably couldn't write general market fiction. Even though I definitely believe Christians can write that kind and weave Godly threads through their stories. Just not me.

Jessica said...

Anita,
You're hilarious. I'm fixing to e-mail you. :-)

Travis said...

I targeted a publisher and showed up unannounced at the front door. I'd sent a manuscript several weeks before, and I told them I was interviewing them for a possible publishing contract. Even though they were a small company, they were amazed, and took me on a tour of the facility and we sat and talked for several minutes. I wanted them to remember who I was. Of course, there aren't many cowboys who show up with a manuscript for a romance novel. I imagine they were somewhat surprised. But, I think they appreciated my approach, because that indicated I would commit to marketing the book.

I'm looking forward to seeing your name on a book! Congratulations on finishing your work!

Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terri Tiffany said...

Whenever an editor for my articles suggest changes, I've always gone along with them as long as the main storyline existed. Good post!

Jessica said...

Thanks for the input Terri. :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Travis!
Is that for real? Either way, it's funny!
Thanks for stopping by and for the congrats.

Carol said...

At this point in my career I'm willing to change minor details and compromise on major ones. The publisher will be investing money and time in my work, so I understand they want it to be marketable--and marketability isn't something I know much about. As long as I'm not required to make changes that violate my personal values, I don't mind.

Jessica said...

Carol,
Very true. They definitely know more about marketability than us, so I think you make a very good point.