1. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    Agents need novel category for agent purposes

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by friendly_meese, Jul 27, 2014.

    Before my WIP can get an agent, I have to finish it; but, before I finish it, I need a marketing category. I'm hoping people can help me with the proper category.

    The protag is a first-year law student. Her parents died when she was an infant and she's always lived with her grandparents. The trust fund she got at age 18 is $5 million. The novel is about her finding out that what she'd been told about her parents was a bunch of lies. Most of the novel covers her investigation to find out the truth.

    Here's the problem. The novel has no violence in it whatsoever, because she is totally nonviolent. A chunk of Chapter 2 is her reviewing a court transcript and getting a crapton of juicy goodies from it. She very likely ends up abandoning law school in order to find out the whole truth about her parents, but conducts herself as and has the mentality of a lawyer, which she pretends to be during part of the investigation. It's possible that what she finds out ends up making her not only powerful enemies, but extremely powerful allies within the legal profession, but also ends up getting her labelled as "not of good character."

    Anyone have any idea what the subgenre here is? I don't know whether there's even a genre that fits it.
     
  2. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    Sounds a bit like Veronica Mars to me (the overall vibe, that is). I'd say something of a mystery and legal drama, depending on where this story takes the reader.
     
  3. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    I'll have to read some Veronica Mars. What's the first book you'd recommend?
     
  4. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    To be clear, Veronica Mars is a television show, with no written predecessors. I'm not sure that, in itself, changes anything, except the fact that you'd have to watch stuff and the first I'd recommend is the first episode of the first season.
     
  5. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    I'll check whether it's available on the Canadian Netflix. Might as well put my Netflix account to practical use.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not true. Finish your book, and polish it to a rich luster. Only then are you ready to try to find an agent, and only then do you need to understand how well your novel fits the mix of genres represent by particular agent prospects. Even then, it's less a matter of changing the story than fine-tuning your pitch to the agent, or understanding that a particular agent is a long shot for your kind of writing.

    The same applies if you skip the agent (not really recommended) and try to directly approach publishers.
     
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  7. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    Cogito, I know I'm nowhere near ready to look for an agent. I just don't want to write a novel that falls between two stools. If I finish it and then find out that nobody publishes what I've written, I'll feel stupid. So I want to guide my writing according to where the work fits from the viewpoint of a writing industry businessperson. That doesn't mean sacrificing creative integrity or being a hack, just making enough adjustments that I don't write something unmarketable. The novel is constantly evolving as I write it anyway, and I've been revising my outline every sixth paragraph. Why not try to revise it in a specific direction?
     
  8. Berber
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    Berber Active Member

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    The non-violent aspect makes me think of a cozy mystery, though they're generally more lighthearted as far as crime fic goes. You could go the legal thriller route, or you could just stick to the broad strokes of crime/detective fiction and worry about nailing down a sub genre once the work is polished and publishable.
     
  9. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    @friendly_meese, I think you overestimate how much an agent cares about an easily definable market and underestimate how important it is that the agent personally enjoys reading your story.

    But it sounds squarely like a mystery with bildungsroman elements. Maybe with some deconstruction of legal drama.
     
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  10. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    Berber, detective fiction in which the detective is a lapsed first-year law student and the detection contains nary a single raised fist would work for agents? What she uncovers is pretty revolting but still nonviolent.

    Daemon, may I have your definition of "bildungsroman?" Yes, I can also look it up :)
     
  11. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A story about someone reaching some kind of maturity, especially via a transition from childhood-related state to an adulthood-related state.

    Your protagonist's childhood is defined by her life with her grandparents and her beliefs about her parents.
    A change occurs: she discovers the lies.
    She transitions from the childhood state of blissful ignorance to the adulthood state of knowing the truth. I imagine that this is the source of much tension, internal conflict, etc. that defines her process of becoming more mature.
    As a result, she becomes a different person.
    Additionally, her career is radically changed, and I imagine that her change in perspective on her parents (and thus on life itself) -- which is intertwined with the events that change her career -- prepares her for the very change in her career.
    In a nutshell, she goes from being a typical trust fund baby (so I gather) to being a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the evils in the world and how close to home said evils can be.

    Thus, a bildungsroman.

    And if that is not at all what the story is about, then I highly recommend that you consider framing it that way and pursuing those themes, because I suddenly became very interested in this story when I wrote that explanation. :)
     
  12. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    Daemon, that actually further clarifies the novel in my own mind, although it was already fairly clear. You get a spot in the acknowledgements. If I find a publisher I'll send you a private message about it. Meanwhile, thanks :)
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    So ...shall I hunt for the Bildungsroman sign at Waterstone's to locate your book once it's been published? ...just kidding :) I think @Cogito is right. Get your book finished and polished before deciding how to pitch it. Unless you are writing in a direct category (Romance, Mystery) that has specific requirements, a spillover of theme is fine. Surely you aren't thinking of changing your story to 'fit' a category? So what does it matter where it ends up? The most important thing you can do right now is GET IT WRITTEN. THE WHOLE THING. Then it will become obvious what to do with it.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Write from your soul, not with one eye on the Market-O-Meter. You'll be happier, and the book will be so much better for it. And you're much more likely to sell your novel, too.
     
  15. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    I've encountered a major problem. The first draft will top out at 20,000 words. I'm about 12,000 words into it and can see the end coming. Way too short for a novel. That has made me lose interest in it. Anything I can do to remotivate myself to finish the first draft, or should I just start over and map something out that will be novel-length?
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, that's a the long end of the range for a short story, so you could finish it and polish it as a short story, leaning toward cutting rather than embellishing.

    I wouldn't walk away from it in any case. Finish it, give it at least an initial polish, and find some beta readers. At the very least, you'll learn something from it to guide your development as a writer.
     
  17. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Just to add to the above, keep in mind that genre does not define the writing, it attempts to describe it. The notion of genre is a marketing tool. It's how @jannert can find what she's looking for at the bookstore. And genre definitions are all a matter of perception, of what the public thinks they want.

    To paraphrase a line from the film "Apollo 13", "There are about a thousand things that have to happen in order for your story to be published. You're on #8; you're talking about #637." Judging by your other thread, you still have to work out the guts of the story you want to tell. Then you have to actually write it. Then you have to go through several stages of review and editing, and (I hope) getting some objective critique from readers you trust. Then editing and polishing some more. Then querying agents (or publishers). The querying stage is the first at which I would even think of what genre your story might fall into, and even then I wouldn't worry about it. Right now, it's whatever you think it is. If you think of your story as a mystery, it's a mystery.

    Best of luck.
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    The genre sounds to me like a mystery or a thriller.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Is it because the story is too simple (as in not complex) to carry a novel, or is it because you're telling it too quickly? Any story can be told in 20,000 words ...it's the detail and the characterisation and the setting and the reader's immersion that will suffer if you go too fast.

    If I were you, I'd get it finished, polish it up to the best of your ability, then let a few people read it. Preferably people who read a lot themselves. Even a teacher or some semi-professional people. See what they have to say about what you've got.

    You may have the 'outline' of a novel ...something that can and should be expanded so the reader gets drawn in, and doesn't just skim over the surface. Or maybe you need a more complex story. Anyway, you're far enough into it to finish it. I'd say if you get in the habit of finishing what you start, you're well on your way to being a published writer. Nobody gets published unless they finish what they write.
     
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