Rosemary and Time: Something to Think About

I received some professional advice on Rosemary and Time. It’s good advice; the sort that makes me really think. A major revision of the story might be in the offing. Here’s some of it:

On to the manuscript. First, you are good writer. You have a great story arc, an interesting premise, original setting and some well-rounded characters. Unfortunately, you are straddling two genres… I think that if you tailor the manuscript to one side or the other, it could be placed with a larger house. Nothing is guaranteed, as I’m sure you realize, but this is my opinion.

It would take less work to write it to a middle grade level. Drop the characters ages by 3 years, turn the love interest into a ‘first-real-friend’ and perhaps round out Peter a bit, he was a trifle thin beside Rosemary. By the way I think Rosemary is a great character. It’s an exceptionally unusual view of a girl, but still right on the nose. I completely identified with the way she over-identifies with the characters in books. I did that as a child, and I still do now. Can’t watch a horror movie to save my life.

Of course if you drop the ages there will be some fine tuning that you will need to do through out the manuscript. Like changing the Mayor of Castlebridge to a more age appropriate title, such as S.E. Hinton’s the Outsiders, or something like that. Puck may or may not have to change - he is such a universal character, and Rosemary is such a precocious reader that she could have come across him by age 11. If you choose to move the manuscript in the other direction, you will need to deepen the setting, and darken the plot, as well as lengthen the manuscript a bit.

Hmm… This is the second time I’ve been told that Rosemary and Time straddles two genres, and that this might be a problem. Maggie DeVries said the exact same thing when she gracefully declined the book. And along comes a third advice giver who says “the whole finding-True-Love-at-thirteen thing really bothered me there, I must say!”.

It is a little unrealistic to expect fourteen year olds to establish true-love relationships almost at first meeting. It would be easier to change Rosemary and Time into a middle-grade reader, as that’s what it is in terms of the structure of the story (very episodic and short — at 39,000 words, it’s at the top end of the genre’s word count). The deeper relationship between Peter and Rosemary is closer to being the odd thing out.

On the other hand, Rosemary’s self-doubt and sullen behaviour is definitely more of an adolescent feature, or so Erin tells me. Although these attributes seem to hit younger and younger these days…

So, what do I do? And where does that leave Fathom Five? It’s one thing to straddle a genre in a single book; can a book series leap across the gap between two books? Actually, such a move could make the storyline of Fathom Five stronger, by making the deepening of Peter and Rosemary’s relationship a far more momentous and frightening change for the characters involved.

I realize it’s presumptuous of me to worry about the effects of a story’s changes on its unpublished sequels, but there you go; I’ve written this series as a means of watching Peter and Rosemary grow and change, and all of the books are key components of this to my mind — but the struggle is getting a publisher to accept even the first novel, much less the ones that follow.

So, it was good advice, as I now have a lot of stuff to think about.

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