Gearing up for an Agent Blogfest

Happy 4th July to all the American visitors, enjoy the fireworks!

Today is the first day of the Gearing up for an Agent Blogfest by the lovely Deana Barnhart.

    For the first day we have to ask a question. Mine is coming up after some rambling lol.

  • My rhyming MG novel Kangaroobee is already out on submission as is To the Beach, my pre-school picture book (unintentionally at the same time, blame Patty ;)
  • My picture books, Cheeku the Cheeky Chinese Chicken and Big Al of the Everglades are both marinating nicely at the moment.
  • I don’t know what to do with my old story Roo on the Roof, except maybe send it to my mum lol. It’s another zoo story so I’ll have to wait forever for that to be a rare thing again.

I’m on a break from picture books right now and have a mountain of middle grade books to read. Now that I’ve finished Divergent (and yes it is AWESOME!) I can crack on through my MG reads. I’ll be getting visitors over summer, so I’m reading like a crazy person before they arrive lol. I have a brand new idea for an MG book but I’ve already ditched 3000 words and cut two characters, so it’s already gone through the mill and I’m not even half way through yet! Luckily I told my hubby the plot and he was like woah you’re making it too complicated again. So my question is:

How do you know if your plot is too complicated and should you cut at the beginning or wait until you have finished the whole of the first draft before making big changes?

I know it’s an early on question, but with stories out on submission I am in the early stages again. Look forward to reading the other entries here.

25 thoughts on “Gearing up for an Agent Blogfest

  1. I try and get the entire thing down before I make revisions like that, but sometimes I get to a point in the story where I realize it can’t move foward with the complexities I’ve created. But getting as much as possible on paper first gives you more to work with/keep and rearrange when you do go to cut. So it’s tough, but I always try and write it out first and cut it once I’ve had a chance to think about what would make it less complex.

    • Hi Elle and Loralie, finish it first sounds like the get it down you here about first drafts. I guess if the story was flowing better for me I would have kept them in. And hubby was even worse than usual that it was complicated lol.

  2. I think the best bet is to just finish the book, complications and all, then once you have the whole picture in front of you, hack away. Although, if you already know in the early stages that a certain direction isn’t working, then cutting earlier is better.

  3. Hi, Catherine,

    Some ideas I know right away have to go, and it’s better to thin them out before the shade out my good ideas. Can you tell I also love to garden, hence the analogies? :) Of course, I always save my outtakes, so I don’t feel as if I’ve lost anything, should I change my mind. But usually if your instinct tells you to toss something, put that text in the outtake folder ASAP!

    Other times, especially if I feel sadness or another strong emotion about cutting something, I’ll keep what I’ve written until I’ve had time to develop my plot more. It’s difficult for me to wait to make these decisions until my next rewrite stage, but I’m learning to give my characters and myself more time and room to grow.

    Basically if my heart and soul say it has to go, I prune sooner rather than later. Otherwise if I wait until the end, it becomes even harder to do that pruning job.

    By the way, I left a response to your comment at


  4. I don’t know for sure but I think you can feel it in your gut (or in my husband’s case- the publishers tell you that it is too complicated)

    Good luck. Your books sound really cute :)

  5. Hi Catherine!
    I go back and forth on revisions. I try to wait for the big stuff like culling /moving chapters until I’m finished and the WIP has sat for at least a month. But I do small revisions, word tinkering, tightening, as I go bc sometimes what’s wrong keeps me from moving forward.

  6. I think I plan to wait until my first draft is done before I decide if its too complicated and start cutting. Good luck!

  7. I think that if the premise of your book is too difficult to explain to a friend, then perhaps it’s too complicated. I’d cut out some of the unnecessary subplot before you go any further-otherwise you may find it weaved in too tightly later down the road, and edits will be murder. (speaking from personal experience)

  8. I get the whole thing out first. Then I try to follow the Stephen King rule of cut 10%. Get rid of what isn’t important until all that’s left is the story.

    Great to meet you!


  9. I’m definitely a ‘get it down first’ kind of person. Once I’ve finished it, then I can get a more big picture look at how it works and figure out if things are too complex, not complex enough, need more depth or if the pacing is way off.

  10. I try to get through the whole thing then go back. Mainly because you never know where it’s going to go. I used to do this edit as I go and things seemed off by the end.
    Good luck!

  11. There’s no single answer to this, as every writer creates her own comfort zone. I prefer to make sure I have a clean beginning – the first 5 chapters or so – before going on with the book. On one sad occasion, I couldn’t even make the first 5 chapters work, so writing the rest would have been a monumental waste of time.

    Trust your instincts, and settle on what works for YOU.

  12. I usually try to write the entire first draft, take a break, then re-evaluate the story. I like having something complete–that I can look at on a more filled-out scale than just a plot outline–before making any major changes.

  13. See that is why I have to plot plot plot. If it is getting boggy there I know it will when I write. So I guess I cut in the very beginning. Then as I write if I seem to be getting complicated, I go back to plotting. Once I get through the story, I start cutting. So I would say, for me, it is before and after.

    • Well I got my plotting booklet right after I cut out two characters and the story is going well now. Though I like both reasons I’m getting on here. Great advice everyone thanks

  14. How did I miss your question last week? I must not have scrolled down or something. Sorry! I’m on the side of write the story first. Then let your beta readers let you know where it’s too complicated. Best wishes on the submissions! And good for you for keeping yourself occupied with a new project. It really does help, doesn’t it?

    • Thanks, it does help, except I ought to be improving my query letter skills lol. I didn’t mean to have a new story to write. I faithfully promise to improve my querying before I send it out again :)

  15. Here’s my story – I started my WIP in September, wrote almost 60K, and in December decided to scrap the whole thing and start over. Now I’m on the rewrite and am toying with another rewrite, BUT I’m not. I’m just going to finish the darn thing, then fix it. But it sounds early for you. And you have to listen to your heart. What’s it telling you?

    Good luck!

    • Wow that is a big deal, good on you for being so brave. I ditched the two characters right at the start and just got the first draft down. This week I’ve had my novel in rhyming verse Kangaroobee critiqued and now I’m writing it again in prose (186 stanzas). If I had to check the meter one more time in all those verses who knows what I would have done lol.

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