How Strange Can a Novel Be?

Questions for the resident (former) agent
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How Strange Can a Novel Be?

Post by JohnDurvin » January 11th, 2011, 4:08 pm

I've got a novel in my head that I'd really love to write, but I'm concerned that it's just too weird. I'm not talking about James Joyce-style weird, either; it's a fantasy novel based on American rather than European folklore, with things like jackalopes and hoop-snakes and Big Rock Candy Mountain, combining tales of knight-errantry with Dust Bowl hobos. The finished product would be a great read, I'm pretty sure, but the problem is: how do I convince publishing industry people that it's not too far out there? Are there any steps I can take to encourage agents/editors to see it for what it is (a solid adventure story) instead of for what it isn't (part of an established genre)? I don't want to get stuck spending months writing something that's utterly unsellable, however much I enjoyed writing it.
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Re: How Strange Can a Novel Be?

Post by Jaligard » January 11th, 2011, 5:39 pm

It sounds kind of awesome already and certainly not out of the range of normalcy for fantasy novels. Just write it, make it fabulous, and see what happens.

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Re: How Strange Can a Novel Be?

Post by Down the well » January 11th, 2011, 7:49 pm

Um, have you read anything by Neil Gaiman? He's pretty out there, but no one seems to be complaining. If you haven't already, give American Gods a read.

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Re: How Strange Can a Novel Be?

Post by wordranger » January 12th, 2011, 12:14 am

I don't really think that sounds as strange as you think it does.

Good writing is good writing. If the story is good, who cares if it is about flying monkeys?
Who cares if the monkeys talk? If you can make it work, and it is engaging, it will have as good a chance as anything else out there.

Go ahead and write it and have fun. If you love it, maybe the world will too.

Good luck!
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Re: How Strange Can a Novel Be?

Post by Nathan Bransford » January 12th, 2011, 12:53 am

I would second the recommendation to check out Neil Gaiman, and also say that you should write the story you want to write! If it works it works.

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Re: How Strange Can a Novel Be?

Post by steve » January 12th, 2011, 11:57 am

Make the jackalope talk. That's the key.

I recently finished TH White's THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. If you haven't read it, you should. It's 4 books on the King Arthur legend, and the strangeness of the book/plot/narration/etc. is apparent, glaring, and great. It's a real mess and damn entertaining.

Good luck!
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