Write what you feel

So, one of the agents I got a card from is interested in sexy urban fantasy. I have an urban fantasy. At times, it can be decidedly sexy, but at the beginning, it’s kinda not. I thought I could make minor changes through the entire book to make the characters a little sexier, but I’m finding that story-wide changes would mess with the tone of my story.

My mc is in a place she doesn’t want to be. She’s hiding from the cops. She’s dealing with a crime she’s committed. She’s not looking for sex or love or relationships. To sex her up would be to change her dramatically. It’s funny to think that one little change affects the character as a whole, but isn’t that true about real people as well?

I was stressing about this last night. If Agent X really wants a sexy book, she’s going to keep looking for one. She’s not going to rep one and then rewrite it to resemble something else. If she likes this, she’ll rep it. My putting a gloss on it isn’t going to fool her. I texted my friend Kena with my worries, and she said, “Write what you feel.” Four little words that gave me permission to do what I wanted to do in the first place. ^_^

Those words let me get over the fact that I might be screwing my chance to get published. I always said I’d make agent revisions because they know the market better than me, but this agent hasn’t even seen my pages yet. I can’t write based on what I THINK she might like. I think that would be the quickest way to write a story that sounds completely fake.

So, I’ll go with what I have, making small changes I’ve wanted to make anyway, making sure there are no typos and that the plot and flow is tight. I hope Agent X loves it. I would love for her to love it. ^_^ And if she does want to rep it and thinks it needs to be sexier, I think she’ll have ideas that don’t change the tone or characters as a whole. Because if she didn’t already like them, why would she say yes?

Do you ever think this hard about possible revisions? Ever stress about maybes like this? Problems after representation seem like they’d be wonderful problems to have until I think really hard about them. Ah well, I’m not going to stress anymore, and neither should you. Listen to Kena, and write what you feel.

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12 thoughts on “Write what you feel

  1. This is a great blog post because you bring up great questions!

    I’m glad your friend told you to write what you feel because that is so true. If you aren’t writing what you want to write, who are you writing for? There’s no fun in writing for an agent. Or writing for a market, for that matter. Sure, you need to find your market, and market your book when you’re published… But then, if you hate what you’re writing, or it betrays what you want out of it, then why are you doing it?

    I think you should know when to accept change with your novel. I’m having to do that now. I have to step back and realize, to make my novel good, I might not be working with original concepts anymore. And that’s OK as long as I still love and believe in my new ideas.

    Personally, like I said. Write what you want to write. Don’t sex it up because other people want you to. Someone will like your novel just the way it is because you loved it just the way it is and put every bit of your soul into it that way. Hope that made sense.

  2. I think about this all the time. Whether it be, “Is my story too multicultural?” or, “Should I work to write something that’s more like what’s currently in the market?” thoughts of inadequacy and failure always plague me. But at some point I just had to decide to I’ll write what inspires me, and if someone wants it then they want it. It’s too much energy to worry about things you can’t control.

  3. Personally, I feel all the recent emphasis on sex in urban fantasy interferes with what I really want from SF/fantasy–a sense of wonder. Sure, sex has mass appeal, but sex is like any other plot element: too much of it can throw the story out of balance. Write the best story you can, and you’ll find the right audience for it.

  4. I don’t think you need to make the work in question anything other than what it is. Don’t get distracted by “faux-sexiness” (costume, nekkidness, actual sex etc)…the “sexiness” (by which I actually mean straight-up, win-your-heart appeal of your characters) is already there. It’s innately in the story as you’ve written it. You have a gift for making the alien of any color, skin, etc. relatable and likable…not just in a physical way. I think the word “sexy” is not all about sex anymore.

    If a suggestion opens the story up for you and speaks to what you yourself want to achieve, go for it. If it changes your characters into strangers…it’s not the direction for you. And I do think that five different readers might describe your work in five different ways, depending on their frames of reference. As long as it rings true to you, you’re on the right path.

    Kena is a very wise woman.

    • Thanks, Sarah. I’ve decided to go the way of Kena in part because your agent didn’t seem to favor outright changes, instead emphasizing what’s already there, adding more scenes with the characters as they are instead of trying to change them. I am always grateful for your support, and for our wonderful writing group. You are the ellipses queen…

  5. “Write what you feel”
    I.LOVE.THIS! 🙂
    No seriously, best piece of advice because if you don’t, the reader can tell…
    And there is nothing worse than feeling like the author is trying to manipulate you to think or feel a certain way (like forcing a character to be sexy). But when you write what you feel, it’s from the heart and that sincerity and intimacy shines through the words…
    We can make little changes here and there when we’re revising but we don’t have to force our characters to ‘fit’ into some agents standards…

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