I remember it well. The first little spark of an idea. The I-could-do-that thought skipping through my mind, butterflies twirling after it. The day I jotted down the first few hundred words. Excitement. There was a swirl in my the stomach and then I was off. Before I knew it, I’d written a novel. And when I read it, it was the best thing after fairy bread. Definitely a best seller, even my friends thought so.
I’ll let you in on a little secret though. They were lying!
I started my very first novel (alas, I’m still working on it) over ten years ago. I thought it was amazing. Ten years on, a few terrible haircuts and writing workshops later, my eyes were opened. It was a mess. Now, don’t get me wrong, the story was fine. Is fine. This is what my friends saw. The delivery … not so much.
All those quotes about first drafts on Pinterest are true. Your first draft is always going to suck. But … if you’ve written something, that’s the first step. Now comes the editing. Excuse the swear word.
There are three steps in editing and unfortunately I thought I’d completed Phase One. No such luck. I kind of glanced over structural editing. You know, the important stuff. I’d added a few scenes I thought were relevant, scrapped a few. I even cut 6000 words at the beginning of the novel so it started with something exciting. The one thing I failed to do was look at the story as a whole.
Did all the characters have a purpose? Was a particular scene really necessary or was it just a filler for more words? Was it necessary to kill the character off? Was it heart-wrenching? I’m all for killing and tormenting my characters … I’m so glad telepathy is only in fiction stories, but did killing them move the story forward or stall it?
I recently read the second novel, Replicate in the Blaine Colton trilogy by Adele Jones. I wasn’t too impressed with what she did to one of her characters (only because I liked them a lot) but it moved the story forward and I had to read the rest of it to find out what’d happened. If you’re wanting something new to read, this trilogy is a definite must.
My Work In Progress is now the opposite side of the spectrum to what it was when I first wrote it. I may burn that first draft one day. For starters, first chapters as dreams are so cliché … and annoying.
I’ve completely killed off one of my characters. He doesn’t even star in the book except as the dead brother of Keren. This has given her the ability to become a stronger character rather than the sarcastic and pesky little sister who trailed after her brother.
Killing off the main character’s love interest also seemed a little too harsh. Her story is now so much more complex than it was before. These changes have made my story richer and given it an edge. The more you work at something, the better is becomes.
This whole Phase One process of editing is exhausting. Though, I must admit, completely worth it. What have you poured your heart and soul into and was worth every moment?
Anyone who ever thought writing a book was easy, is delusional. Now, onto Phase Two …