Trying to Sell an Unfinished Novel

So New Jersey went well for me, with not a single but a DOUBLE partial request from a lovely editor lady. A young lovely editor lady, but we won’t get into my whole aging paranoia. What I’m more concerned about right now is my unfinished book paranoia.

Since I started writing seriously about three or four years ago, I have had it drilled into me that you never, EVER pitch an unfinished book. Which is exactly what I did in New Jersey. Like a moron. And this lovely person took the bait. She wanted to see the book, unfinished and all. Yay me! The trick is, now I have to freaking figure out what I’m doing with it.

I’ve spent the last several weeks semi-polishing a partial of the thing (3 chapters for those of you non-writers out there), and spent the weekend writing a synopsis of the plot. As if I had one, yet. Book’s not done, plot’s not done. And since I am the world’s worst synopsis writer as it is, I pretty much rambled my way through about five and a half pages of stuff that probably won’t happen by the time I finish the book.

When I was in college, I didn’t have to take Freshman Comp. thanks to a high ACT score. (We won’t talk about my 16 on the math section, now will we?) So I went into English 202 (Lit)  a little clueless as to how this particular professor liked her papers written. I learned fast, since our first outline was due at the end of the first week. Outline??!!!?? Was she kidding me? I didn’t outline! I read what I needed to read, gathered my salient points, and wrote a freaking paper. I did not do outlines. I quickly learned to write my papers my way, then outline. Which meant I usually had my paper ready two weeks before it needed to be, just so I could get the outline in on time.

I still don’t outline. I know writers who think and rethink every plot point before they write a single sentence. They even write their synopsis before they start the story. Not me. I sit down to a blank canvas with a character name, a single point of conflict, and just start to type. My first drafts are disasterous, but aren’t they supposed to be? By the time I’ve gone through it a few dozen times with edits, I normally have it pretty well put together.

Well, perhaps saying that is a tad premature, since I am as of yet unpublished in novel-length fiction. However, it works for me. The problem that presents itself now is that I don’t have my paper done, and the teacher wants the outline. So I am seriously out of my comfort zone on this one.

What does a stick-in-the-mud writer do? Well, firstly, I drag my butt out of the mud and just do what I have to do. End of story. So here I sit with three semi-edited chapters and a nightmare of a synopsis. Will it be enough to sell the book? Well, here’s hoping. But I’m not exactly holding my breath.

In the meantime, I’ll be finishing the book during NaNoWriMo, in hopes of a full request.  Maybe if I finish it, I’ll be able to write an actual synopsis.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Trying to Sell an Unfinished Novel

  1. You sound like me with English and math. After not having much high school at all, I took my SATs and scored so high in English, they wanted me to skip freshman English, but…I was badly in need of pre-college math courses. Ahem.

    You’re gonna make it after all! *now toss your hat*