Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Three solid hours on Monday and the close edit is finished. I ended up taking out a chunk near the end. I had a feeling I would - I had added two more characters towards the final scenes of the story and they'd "got away" on me, trying to add their own story (about cocoa beans, believe it or not). So they got chopped back to walk-on parts again. And may eventually be reduced even further.
I was worried about the last 2 chapters, whether I'd given them enough emotional resonance, but they seemed OK. Not too fast (I often hurry the ending and have to watch myself!) and time to link back to earlier stuff without being too obvious. Well, that's how it feels to me, but other readers are a whole new ball game.
I am still dismayed by the middle grade novel I had rewritten 5 times and the responses I received, when I thought I had solved the problems. The author's perennial problem - how to "see" what you have written through a new reader's eyes.
This always leads me back to the value of a solid outline before I start - I resist doing them but time and time again, when a novel isn't working, it's because I haven't worked out what the story is about before I start.
This is not just plot - this is character arc/journey/need ... whatever names you want to give these things. I just call it the "thing that drives the main character through the story" and it still doesn't really capture what I mean. But other writers will know!
My next step is to read through all my research materials again, some of which I haven't looked at for over two years, and add some more historical detail to the story. Not a lot, but what Michael Connelly calls "the telling details" - the ones that bring the setting alive without going on too much.
And I have to check words for authentic usage - via the Greater Oxford Dictionary. I'm pretty sure nincompoop is early 18th century!

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