The first three chapters are now up on the blog. Please feel free to post your comments below.
I could be wrong, but I think the manuscript has three problems:
- Too high word count. It's a YA/Middle Grade/Somewhere in the middle and it's 89,000 words. That's just too high for the genre, I need to get the word count down. Of course, when the manuscript was at 81,000 words and I did a lot of editing, while working on developing the characters more, I somehow ended up at 89,000 words. Behold my mad editing skillz. This time, I really will try to get the count down.
- The fact that it isn't squarely YA or MG is a bit of a problem, it's in some juvenile fiction no man's land. But for now, I'm not going to worry so much about this. I'll work on telling the story, that's the most important.
- Finally, I think there's just too much exposition, especially in those first few chapters. Right now, I'm considering taking out the first chapter entirely, starting with the second and making major edits to the next few chapters.
But it's very difficult to know what to cut and what not to cut, so please give me your feedback, thanks!
Update: OK, I made some edits and sent the partial off to the agent.
The major change I made was that Chapter 7, which I hadn't posted up on the blog, was taken out entirely.
The chapter was straight exposition on the pros and cons of being a miner (The Good: Miners back then set their own hours and were basically their own bosses. The Bad: The 100+ horrible ways a miner could die underground..and look Ma, no safety regulations!) and while fascinating, it slowed the story down and impeded the flow of the narrative. Instead, I'll take the information contained in that chapter and spread it out throughout the story.
I also cut a few paragraphs of exposition from Chapter 6, such as the discussion of how the coal camp women helped one another, that's made abundantly clear throughout the book, the reader doesn't need to be hit over the head with that information.
My word count? It's now around 87,500. Progress!