Monday, March 29, 2010

On Do-Overs & Stereotyping

One, two, three and to the fo', Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at tha do'...

The latest installment in the ongoing saga of the Spanish Fort toro in the publishing china closet involves the fallout from my startling St. Patty's day discovery of a problem in Debut Novel. There was actually more than one.

Panic stations!

So after fretting about it for a week and then receiving a very kind "thanks anyway" from one Interested Party, I decided to take the bull by the horns and beg for a do-over from remaining Interested Parties.

The good news is they have all been extremely understanding and wonderful, and I've spent the last four days ironing out the rough spots as our buddy E.J. says. I just finished shipping off new and improved Debut Novel (version 1.2), and it is shining like the top of the Chrysler bldg.

But shew! We have been in The Zone over here. I feel like I just came out of the ringer, and Sunday's Easter. (Hello!)

In the meantime, I was thinking about a post I read recently about an agent's admitting that he/she wouldn't handle a novel in which the main character smokes.

First, I agree that that was a brave thing to admit. But I also agree with the writer who was commenting on this agent's revelation with regard to how that can limit character development.

Think about it. So much can be conveyed about a character through a small detail like that. I know I read all sorts of life experiences, expectations, random details into the description of a 15 year-old smoking a cigarette. Don't you?

Now, here's the flip side. How many locals have noted that Spanish Fort (heck, most of Baldwin County from I-10 south) tends to be very Tattoo You?

Please don't misunderstand, I am not harshing on the urban ink. I was simply thinking about this character development debate and where I live. There are a lot of kind-hearted, tattoo-covered, black-leather wearing, Harley Davidson riding folks around here.

I think it's kinda cool, but it totally kills that whole stereotypical image trick. I don't know. Maybe it doesn't, but it might for local readers reading about local characters.

So there you go. That's what's knocking around in my little exhausted writer's brain this Monday.

Ain't nuthin but a G thang, baby~


JRichard said...

I would never handle a novel whose main character kills his father and sleeps with his mother. Oh, snap, I just gave up on Oedipus. But at least he didn't smoke.

Nice going, Mr. Moral. I bet he's just fine with a novel in which the main character is a one-legged free-basing child molester. As long as he lays off the Winstons. Because an agent has to have standards, even if they are standards informed by the After School Special mentality.

I tell you, if we make it through this phase of moronity, the 27th Century anthropologists will be shocked.

LTM said...

JRM! Have you been querying a book you haven't told me about??? You sound like a frustrated querier. ;o)

Me: I don't mind publicizing pet peeves. (Say that 3x fast.) It's v. helpful in finding the right match.

What was interesting to me was the idea of agents as gatekeepers... more on that later.

Ex-pat Odessa said...

JRM cracks me up! Note to JRM, if we are ever in the same country again, we must hang more!