Me to a friend: "So, I'm driving down Route 29 heading into the city and my tire blows."
Friend: "What a minute. Why are you taking Route 29? Isn't Knoxville Avenue quicker?"
Me: "Well. Maybe. So, anyway, my tire blows and the car careens off the road and into that big ditch on the east side of the road..."
Friend: "See? That's why you should have taken Knoxville. Route 29 is dangerous, dude. Dangerous."
Me (flipping out): "Will you shut the hell up and let me tell my story! It is my story, you know."
And there, in a nutshell, is my problem thus far with writing fiction. My novel is my story. I told it my way (hey, that sounds like it would make a good song, no?). Where do you get off telling me how to tell my story?
Heh. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
My story is my story, sure. It's fiction. A lie. I made it up. But even a lie needs to sound real. People need to talk in a way that sounds realistic. Things have to happen in a believable way. If they don't, no one will want to read it. Period.
I have a very, very good professional book editor reading my little darling right now, and she has, ahem, pointed out some structural issues my baby has developed. You know, when someone says something or does something that doesn't quite fit their character. Now, she hasn't done this a lot, thankfully. And she claims she really, really likes my baby so far.
I can only hope.
Nonetheless, it took me aback. I mean, it's my story. How could someone tell me my lie isn't, um, believable? Sometimes, I like quirky characters who do and say things out of character. I do that in real life. Heck, we all do.
So I went back and began thinking about her comments (in red ink, no less). And you know what? She's absolutely right. On all counts. After giving it considerable thought, I started to make some of the changes.
And you know what? It got better. Much better.
It might be my story, but in order for it to land on a bookshelf somewhere, it needs to be handled deftly and expertly. I'm thankful I was lucky enough to find this woman, and that she was kind enough to work with me on my manuscript. Staley Krause, you totally rock!
Now, if I could just figure out this damned query letter.