So, I e-mailed my editor yesterday…she’s still not crazy about my starting over and beginning this book at the point where T.J. and Sam meet. She really doesn’t want me to repeat scenes…even though it’s only three scenes that would be repeated. The rest of the book would show what happened “off stage” in book one, but what happened off stage in book one is of primary importance to T.J. And then it would continue well beyond where book one ended.
(Yeah, but where’s the point that T.J.’s life gets dumped upside down??? Isn’t that where the story has to begin???)
While I was thinking about (obsessing about?) all this yesterday, it occurred to me, I have an agent now! And that agent actually handled this contract for me, even though she never saw the proposal (she came in after that was turned in, but before the contract was offered), so I don’t even have to feel too guilty about asking HER opinion on the matter. That’s one thing an agent can do for you, right? Mediate issues between you and your editor?
She sees my editor’s point about not repeating scenes, but she says that’s a “personal opinion.” She also pointed out that when a publisher buys a book on a proposal, they do have a right to expect that the book you turn in will stick reasonably close to that proposal…which I sort of expected. That’s why I didn’t just start over on my own…I asked my editor first. (I really DON’T want to be a “difficult author.”) But my agent is going to read my proposal and offer an opinion.
There IS a compromise. I could just back up a few hours from my current beginning and write an opening scene that shows Dad and T.J. living their current life…I could get into T.J.’s conflicting feelings…and then go into my current chapter one. This would address my retreat friends’ concerns and would likely not tick my editor off because it’s still starting after book 1 ends. But I just keep coming back to that same old question…shouldn’t I begin the story at the point where T.J.’s life turns upside down? If the answer to that question is yes, I don’t know if I CAN compromise.
I feel like I just manufactured this whole situation in book two to create some drama…because the real drama in T.J.’s life happened off stage in book one. But I’m not supposed to write that, so I had to create some new drama, just so I’d have something to write about. If I go back and begin this story where T.J. met Sam, I wouldn’t need the drama I created in book 2…that wouldn’t be “the story.” The “story” would be “those hairy custodial issues/emotions,” which my editor thinks would be best not to deal with at all.
I’M SO CONFUSED!!!!! But I am anxious to hear what my agent thinks.
Maybe the real question is…do I have enough story if I begin where my proposal currently begins? What IS T.J.’s story?
(If nothing else, this struggle will give me something new to talk about in school visits…I think I’ll play my mandolin now and see if that helps me figure any of this out)