Book proposals: simplify the proposition?

An eminent editor of a major publisher has shown interest in my YA fantasy trilogy ‘The Kingdoms Of Time And Space’.  The first novel in the trilogy is ‘Kingdom Of The Nanosaurs’. Her response was based on the first three chapters and a synopsis.

Exciting stuff but snaring a major publisher can be like reeling in a barracuda.

There was a caveat. ‘You have fantastic, imaginative ideas, David,’ she emailed. ‘But, could you simplify the proposition.’

I had to ponder long and hard about this one. What did she mean? She said that she got slightly bogged down here and there and this took her eye and mind off the narrative a tad. Fair enough. That’s a very good point.

But, what is the proposition? I take it to mean the story line. This YA fantasy has much in common with other complex, yet inherently simple sagas eg ‘His Dark Materials’, ‘Mortal Engines’ and ‘Lord Of The Rings’. I only hope my work reaches the levels and qualities of these exceptional story lines.

It can take longer and require more head scratching and imagination plundering to write a three paragraph or so synopsis of a multi-layered web of a story like this one. The temptation is to make wholesale changes, removing aspects that seem to take the reader down dizzying sub-plots but then, next day, you turn full circle with the realisation that these are exactly why the story works. And you don’t want to give up these wondrous ideas.

That is not the same as saying you should be absolutely ruthless when it comes to removing the obstacles that prevent the story from working. It made me look at the story again and again and again even getting my wife involved (she doesn’t read my kind of books) until I finally got it right – I think!

And doing so has helped me to revise the book itself, straightening out the blockages to story and narrative pace, combining scenes, removing characters, adjusting and polishing. Once the restructuring is done, I realised that I wasn’t that far away to begin with. But, I had to go through the process.

Next up, see what she thinks of it. Fingers crossed.

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About thebookwriters

Award winning novelist, author and musician. This blog is for all book lovers (especially thrillers and YA); writers and book reviewers.
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