New Experiences: Waffling

So I experienced something new recently. I’ve been waffling over making major changes to The Proper Way to Say Goodbye. Now granted, I’ve only queried one novel, so that means I’ve only edited heavily one novel, but I’ve never changed anything big in my stories during the editing process. Little details, yes. But major things like POV shifts or Tense for instance? No.

You may have seen the other posts. My concern is this:

Chloe is an 18 year old freshman in college. Technically, that is not young adult, although you do see other books marketed as YA but with main characters in college.

Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Psyche Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
Love Story by Jennifer Echols
Hushed by Kelley York

My concern is that I may get an automatic rejection on my queries based on the setting alone.

As of now, self-publishing (as new adult possibly) is not an option. I’m not ready for that.

So what I’ve been waffling on is… should I change Chloe to a high school senior? I’ve read all sorts of blogs about this issue and have talked to other writers for differing opinions.

Then I analyzed my story to see the parts I’d have to change. Chloe would have to attend a few classes at the local college, but could still be in high school. No problem there. And most of the changes could easily be dealt with. Minor things.

But, it wouldn’t be the same. And I have one big issue. Chloe has a relationship with her graduate teaching assistant. Yes, ethically that is wrong and breaks school rules. But I can forgive that for my story, because the TA is a positive character in Chloe’s life, and Chloe is a consenting adult.

But if I changed Chloe to a high school senior, I couldn’t be as forgiving of the TA having that relationship, even if technically Chloe is an adult. To me, that’s a bigger line to cross.

Which is why I’ve been waffling. Going back and forth between thinking I should change. Then back. Then forth. Then back.

But I think I’m done. I’ve decided to stick with it. And when I query, I will keep my fingers crossed that an agent who is interested, but rejects because of the setting, lets me know that. Because that would at least leave options open to change and possibly resubmit.

I love my story the way it is, so I’m going to take a chance and leave it and see what happens.

Have you ever waffled over major story decisions?

11 Responses

  1. Huge waffling going on right now. My blog post for Tuesday is about the darkness of my story, and questioning how dark is too dark. I’m only at scene 6 and I have so many questions about the viability of this manuscript as something someone would want to read that I succumbed to a little pessimism this weekend. I’ve decided to just write the first draft as quickly as I can and worry about the rest later.

  2. Waffling over decisions is generally the ONLY thing that keeps me from getting books done. I totally understand.
    The thing is – there are an infinite number of ways to tell each story, which is why I try to go back to the characters.
    not sure this helps in your situation though.
    But I like the ages the way they are 😀

  3. Hi! I can relate to your dilemma and have been there too many times. Maybe if Chloe is involved with a TA who is a freshman or sophomore in college? Perhaps the small age gap may make it a little more acceptable but still a point of tension.
    I just stumbled across your blog and am so glad I did! I also studied engineering and am writing fiction now. Do you have a followers tab? I’d love to stay tuned with your journey! Good luck and I’m sure your WIP will turn out well. Sometimes it’s these big changes that make it (ex. I had a boyfriend-girlfriend with a problem so to raise the stakes, I took some advice and made them engaged).

  4. I agree about sticking with what you feel is right. It might make it a harder sell, but your book will probably be better for it. I waffle a lot, but it’s usually over the overall writer’s dilemma of whether or not my writing and ideas are something people want to read, but not usually specifics. Either way it ends up going, I just keep reminding myself how much I love doing it.

  5. I found your blog from the GUTGAA event. I couldn’t resist checking out a few blogs before the event started and following them as well.

    I love how your blog title fits what you do- you really are a blog engineer. You think of every aspect. How will this effect my writing. I really need to learn from you in the skill, which means I will be returning to read your blog. I say, trust your instinct with your story because you have a great eye.

  6. Melodie

    Sometimes it’s fun to change a plot up a bit. I just finished a major revision of a WIP that ended up cutting 20K and moving scenes/plot threads around like crazy. But it’s a YA mystery and I need a very linear plot w/ escalating tension. The genre demands it. I had to cut several scenes that I really loved, and may yet cut a character I love, but if I want to sell it, that’s what’s required.

    Good luck with your querying!!

  7. Yes… I’m glad you’re going the route you are… You need to trust what came out of you & see if any agent connects with it…. Then revision is always an option later if you need to go that route. (I know I have!) It’s sooooo tough… These kind of decisions keep me up at night & make me antsy, lol!

  8. Suzi–
    Arghh! Having read your ms, it is hard for me to picure it set with Chloe in hs. There is a level of independence that she achieves by being away from home that makes the story more realistic for me…
    But, I do think you could make it work with her in high school. If the only reason you would make that change is for market considerations, I don’t know… I agree with Emily – you have to hold to a certain level of story integrity – but you want people to read it, too!
    Like I said, arghh! Good luck with whatever you choose 🙂

  9. Rachel Schieffelbein

    I think that sounds like a good decision. If an agent loves it, but is worried about the age or about calling it YA, I would imagine they’d just tell you that and either ask you if you’re willing to change her age or market it as adult instead.
    Best of luck!

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