STATUS: Got a call from an editor expressing interest in a project I currently have on submission. Always a good first sign.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE DISTANCE by Cake
I’ve been having some interesting dialogues recently about what is too risky and strange (and thus misses the market) and what’s fresh, original, and daring.
What’s the difference and is that difference solely in the eye of the beholder? Darn hard to say.
On one hand I believe any concept can be pulled off and do-able given the right character development. As long as the reader feels emotionally involved with the characters (even the hard-to-like non-touchy feely characters), anything is possible.
After all you can have a story about young tweens with personal demons that shapeshift (and are the external representations of the person’s conscience) and then become static once the tween reaches maturity and that dominant personality traits are fixed. (Philip Pullman’s THE GOLDEN COMPASS)
And it totally works. The concept is strange and original but fascinating.
The difference might be in how one responds to the original concept. Is the initial gut reaction “wow, that’s cool?” or is it “huh?”
And gut reaction can certainly be subjective.
But for me, I know the instant I read a query (mainly because I’ve read so many and have seen thousands and thousands of ideas) which way a concept tips. I either react with “very cool” or a “wow, that’s too strange” or worse yet, “I don’t get it.”
And I can always be wrong. After all, I would have shaken my head over a concept of a novel set in the Ice Age where a Neanderthal clan rescues and adopts an early Cro-Magnon child (known as one of the Others) and that changes the clan’s destiny.
Sign me up for that one. Not.
Except that would be CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean M. Auel and a big mistake to have missed out on that one. I’m still trying to imagine how her agent pitched that novel to the editors.
“So I have this great story set 35,000 years in the past…” That probably wasn’t the approach.
Ultimately, it can all be in the writing but for me, some concepts are so out there and strange, I don’t want to read that story regardless of how good the writing might be. So even if you might be flirting with too risky, you need to make sure your query nails the emotional punch and allows the risky element to sound perfectly natural.
If that makes any sense. It’s a tough balance to strike but absolutely necessary.