Sunday, August 15, 2010
They're Just Not That Into Us
Recently I was having a chat with my friend who I’ll call Gigi (PS—I really do call her that). She’d just gotten dumped by some stupid head boy she’d been dating because he was “too busy” for their relationship.
Too busy? Really? Why not just say “I’m returning to my digs in Tunisia” or “I just got bit by a rabid alien and will be in intensive care for the next century.”
Too busy? Come on, we all know what he really wanted to say.
“I’m just not that into you.”
If you haven’t seen aforementioned fabulouso movie, I think I just summed up the premise. Woman (Gigi) imagines every man she meets is Prince Charming yet shifts through countless jerks while trying to figure out the rules to the dating game. She befriends a committed bachelor bartender (Alex) and he helps her interpret the signals. Like when the guy who asked for her phone number doesn’t call after a week and she tries to reason every excuse in the book as to why he hasn’t. Why she renews a relationship with the same guy every Monday, accepting the fact that he breaks up with her every Friday just so he can have his weekends free. Or—you know—the guy who breaks it off because he’s “too busy”.
Alex quickly translates each and every scenario as “He’s just not that into you.”
He tries to impress upon Gigi that she is not the EXCEPTION. She is the RULE. She is not the girl who will run into the guy a year after he blew her off after a first date and they'll reconnect and live happily ever after.
She has to be the RULE.
I’ve had my share of Gigi moments in my funky writing adventures. Like Gigi, I tend to overanalyze eve-ry-thing. And so naturally, I over-analyzed every form rejection I’d receive. When someone would say a polite “no, thank you” to my EXCEPTION book with the pleasant tag “Your work deserves energetic and passionate representation”, I’d think, awwww, they really liked me. Or when I received the rejection on my partial that raved about my beautiful writing, my heart did a silent squee until my friend received a verbatim rejection on her partial. Rejection after rejection, I’d think maybe if I just tweaked this or… or maybe they’ll want to read it again if I cut a few more thousand words.
The reality: They just weren’t that into me. Not everybody will be. Heck, JK Rowling was rejected by, like, everybody.
At a YA Panel at one of my faboo writers conferences, agents fielded questions on a variety of topics including word count and “what grabs you”. One agent explained that Harry Potter and Twilight are the exceptions, not the rule. If you’re writing YA, keep your word count under 80K and hook the reader within the first few pages – ensure whatever’s going to happen to your protag happens right away and let the conflict fly from there.
And there I sat with my 160,000 word YA novel with a slow albeit enigmatic beginning—so not the RULE.
Be the RULE.
I get it. We live in a video-game society with a repressed economy. Publishers just aren’t going to take many chances on debut authors who write Harry Potter-esque stories that rival the length of Twilight.
So I came back from that conference determined I was going to write THE RULE. And I did. And six months later, I banged out a 74K paranormal thriller that takes off like a rocket from page one.
Currently, I’m parading though revisions on my RULE, writing the synopsis and the query. Within the next three months the RULE will see its share of critiques and additional revisions.
And in November, I shall query the RULE.
While still secretly hoping my other novel can be the next EXCEPTION.