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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Thursday, August 8, 2013

First Pass Edit of My Most Recent Historical Fiction

I'm 169 pages from completing the first pass edit/review of my current novel.  I hope to finish that edit today or tomorrow.  Then the more difficult task of sitting down and summarizing the results of that first pass and developing an action plan to fix the manuscript begins.

This manuscript was a lesson in how not to write a novel. 

Unfortunately, writing doesn't always fit neatly into the box of life.  Because of that I didn't write the first draft under ideal conditions.  Meaning:

I am NOT a seat-of-the-pants writer.  But I forced myself to be one with this manuscript and the result was poor.  This writing method works brilliantly for some but I do not count myself in that number.

I did not do enough research before beginning the manuscript.  This was a conscious decision.  With the kind of books I like to write, the research details I need are rarely found on the internet and I still rely heavily on old dusty books and historical societies.  All of which require degrees of time, money & travel, all of which were not at my disposal at the time.  But I wanted to get the essence of the story down on paper anyway.

*  I did not make important decisions about character motivation.  This book revolves around the underlying motives of a character who is the primary reason for my lead character's quest.  The uncertainty in my own mind led to timidity on the page.  In all my books I am frequently plagued with difficulty in making plot decisions because there are so many directions I can go.

*  Tied to the above, I didn't sketch out my major characters well enough.  While I have an aversion to writing lengthy character bios, I still need a solid blueprint for my characters.

So now I must lay out a plan for taking this hunk of marble stored on my computer and carving out the great story I know it can be.

The first decision I must wrestle with is what to tackle first--should I do the research first or wait until I've sketched my characters out more thoroughly?  They are inextricably linked together.

Once I've overcome that hurdle, it will give me a boost of confidence to keep working.

I think it would also benefit me to find a writer friend who is willing to play mental Ping-Pong with me and listen to my crazy schemes for this story who can help me navigate a path to a clear course of action.

Either way, the manuscript will be a long time in the making.  I never seem to select easy plots.


Patti Shene said...

Brenda, I think the fact that you have identified some of the problems shows that you are well on the way to winning the battle!I'm sure the final product will be a great book.

B.K. Jackson said...

Hey, Patti!

It's tedious yet fun to go thru your manuscript for the first time since writing it. I wrote to a daily quota while writing that WIP & I can tell exactly where I was beginning to get tired of the daily writing grind.

It's also telling to me that I was halfway through the story before I began to hit more of a stride.

As you said, that has helped me already in developing my plan for the re-write. I don't relish the work ahead but the story's worth it.