Oh, I’d forgotten to tell you in the last post about our other big news from the past week….
Yes! My human, Hsin-Yi, finally finished the 1st draft of the Big Honey Dog mystery novel!!!!
Er…yeah, Hsin-Yi has actually written FAR too many words! But that’s OK – she’s going to start revisions now and so she will be trying to cut as many words as she can…try to get the wordcount back down to around 40,000.
Thank you for being so patient with us in the recent months when we haven’t been very sociable ‘coz Hsin-Yi was spending all her free time on the novel. I know we’re still really slack with coming to visit your blogs – but we’re trying the best we can – so please forgive us!
Now Hsin-Yi is going to start doing something called “revising & editing” where she will be reading over the whole story again and taking things out, changing things and adding things to see if she can make it better (she says now the real work begins! ). And then we’ll be sending it out to beta readers for some feedback (Thank you to all of those who have volunteered!) – and while they are reading it, it will give Hsin-Yi a chance to “take a break” from the manuscript – because it’s very important to do that, so that when you come back to revise again, you can look at it with fresh eyes. (People say you should really try to put the manuscript away for a month!). After the beta readers get back to us with their thoughts, there will be one more revision & final check…and then my book will be ready for submission. GULP!
Of course, Hsin-Yi could not have done it without all the help from Muesli & me…look how hard we’ve been working!
Well, it’s been a a very exciting week for “writerly stuff” – aside from finishing the novel, Hsin-Yi also went to a writers’ festival on Rottnest Island.
Rottnest is a beautiful little island just off the coast of Perth. You can get there by a 1/2hr ferry ride. It’s a very special island because there are only a few buildings and no car machines are allowed – everybody has to get around on foot or bicycles! (OK, there is a bus machine service too) and it is so lovely and peaceful and unspoilt…perfect for a writers’ retreat!
There’s lots of wildlife on the island but there was one creature that Hsin-Yi was desperate to meet. She had heard so much about them and seen pictures of them – they look like the CUTEST things in the world! They’re a small marsupial called the Quokka and most of them live on Rottnest Island. They look like giant cute rats that hop around, with a smiley face and a bendy tail. They are adorable!
People had been telling Hsin-Yi that Quokkas are really tame & friendly ‘coz they have no natural predators on the island and so they don’t know how to be scared of anything. They’ll hop right up to you and around you, when you’re sitting around on the island, relaxing & having lunch or something…and they even hop into the island cafes and around the tables & booths! The Waiter Humans have to keep shooing them out!
Well, Hsin-Yi didn’t really believe all this until she walked out of one of the writing sessions and there was a Quokka! It was just hopping around, amongst all the writers milling around, completely unbothered…
It’s one reason why – sadly – doggies & kitties are not allowed on Rottnest Island. So my humans can never take me there to have adventures. But I guess it’s important to protect these cute little Quokkas!
You can stay in little cottages on the island – that’s what most of the other writers did – but it cost quite a lot of money paper to stay for the whole festival so Hsin-Yi didn’t go for the whole time, just for some events. She got some great tips & advice, though, and it was nice to meet other writers and make new friends.
Hsin-Yi also got a “manuscript critique” from a visiting editor on her first couple of chapters, which was really useful – to have somebody ‘professional’ look at her writing & her story and tell her if it’s any good. Well, the good news is that the editor really liked it! She thought that Hsin-Yi wrote very well and loved the ideas & characters in the chapter. And she had lots of good suggestions to help Hsin-Yi in the revisions.
BUT – here’s the question we need your help with:
- the main thing the editor said was: the story & writing & characters are great but she’s worried ‘coz it features dogs as the main characters. And publishers always think that people won’t want to read stories about “talking animals” (unless they’re small human pups).
Because see, Hsin-Yi’s writing style is “older” and the mystery plot for the novel is more complicated with layers & themes and it’s quite dark too…so the story is probably better suited to an older audience, like 10yrs+ and teenagers & even adults who enjoy a good mystery…
But then publishers think that older kids & teenagers & adults won’t want to read a story just featuring animals (& told from their point of view) ‘coz that would be baby-ish!
So the editor told Hsin-Yi that she should think about maybe “dumbing down” the book and making it simpler, so that it would fit a younger audience (but Hsin-Yi thinks this would ruin the story ) – otherwise, the editor thinks that it will be pitched “too high” – and since older kids & teenagers & adults won’t want to read a book told from animals’ point of view – so nobody will buy it!! And of course, if they think nobody will buy it, then publishers won’t want to give you a book deal.
What do you think?
Hsin-Yi is hoping that if she writes a good enough story – even older kids & teenagers & adults might want to read it – even if it does feature animals as the main characters! There seem to be lots of animal lovers out there who enjoy stories about animals – whatever their age. Hsin-Yi was reading animal stories when she was a teenager too and even as an adult.
But of course, maybe she’s just the exception? Maybe the publishers are right and most people think that animal stories are just for little kids & babies and wouldn’t want to be seen reading them…?? It is true that most books for teenagers & adults are told from the human’s point of view and not from the animals. Yes, there are some that only feature the animals’ voices (that are successful!) but they are very rare – so maybe the publishers have a point… (it’s not just this 1 editor’s opinion – Hsin-Yi has heard the “no talking animals” taboo mentioned many times by other editors & agents in interviews & articles when she was doing research)
We would really love to hear your thoughts ‘coz Hsin-Yi was feeling a bit disheartened when she came back. Do you think nobody “older” will want to read a mystery featuring “talking dogs”??
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