Monday, October 01, 2012
BRINGING DEAD GIRL TO LIFE
By Linda Joy Singleton
Have you ever had rejection after rejection for a book and wanted to give up? Maybe you have a book you’ve loved for years but it just won’t sell and you’re thinking of shoving it in a drawer or through the shredder. Well hold on a minute. Maybe you can’t sell this book now but there’s hope for the future.
I started writing young, submitting my first short stories when I was 14. I even applied to a writing school but was told to wait till I was 17. But I got discouraged and gave up until I was in my 20’s. Then I joined a local writing group, critique group and learned how to write synopses, query letters and how target my submissions to appropriate publishers.
In 1988 I had this idea for a girl with a bad sense of direction (like me) to have a near-death experience where she meets her grandmother but is told it isn’t her time and to go back—only she makes a wrong turn and lands in the body of a wealthy, popular girl who just tried to commit suicide. I called it TURN LEFT AT THE MILKY WAY (disclaimer: I did not choose this title because Milky Ways are my favorite candy bar).
The first version of this book received rejections. I won’t deny that I was discouraged. I loved this idea SO much, had never read anything like it, but in retrospect I needed to develop my craft to deepen the story. So I put the story away, sold other books, brought this out again every five years or so, rewriting but still not quite there yet.
Then in 2007, I rewrote again, changing the title to DEAD GIRL WALKING. I mentioned this project to my Flux editor (Andrew Karre, now with Carolrhoda), and he liked the idea but he suggested making my main character more likeable, adding paranormal aspects, dangerous villains and turning this single-title into a short series.
Now making a book where the heroine’s body dies at the end into a series offered a serious challenge. I mean, if her body died, what sort of happy ending could she have?
So I thought and thought, until I came up with a new ending and additional plots. After rewriting, here’s what I emailed my Flux editor:
I appreciated your suggestions. Including a villainous character is a great idea and added some interesting plot-twists. Readers seem to enjoy a twisted romance so I included that, too.
A week later he offered me a three book contract.
The book that begun as TURN LEFT AT THE MILKY WAY was published 20 years later by Flux as DEAD GIRL WALKING.
Even better—it’s not just one book, it’s a trilogy with DEAD GIRL DANCING and DEAD GIRL IN LOVE. And my editor’s brilliant suggestions for villains really added wicked fun to the books—especially DEAD GIRL IN LOVE where my heroine risks her heart and soul to a Dark Lifer.
If you want to see the subtle difference twenty years writing can make, compare the original TURN LEFT AT THE MILKY WAY first page and the published first page of DEAD GIRL WALKING here: http://ljsingleton.livejournal.com/5371.html .
So my advice to writers: Never Shred a Manuscript. Go ahead, put it away and when you look at it next time some new magic inspiration may strike then many rewrites later, like me, you may hold the published book in your loving hands. Good luck!
www.LindaJoySingleton.com author of DEAD GIRL and SEER series and NEW RELEASE: BURIED: A GOTH GIRL MYSTERY http://www.amazon.com/Buried-Goth-Girl-Mystery-Mysteries/dp/0738719587/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349106956&sr=8-1&keywords=BURIED+by+Linda+Joy+Singleton