Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Book Two Posts: Ep. 9: Over 100,000 Words and Counting

I managed to nail down the beginning of the first chapter. For months, I wasn't entirely thrilled with it. I would take it apart and rewrite it, and still didn't feel like it was right. I started deconstructing again and added another paragraph that I feel is somewhat foreboding and sufficiently sets the tone for the story. I finally had that moment where I felt like this is it.

I ended up breaking the chapters down a bit more to end in places that I felt were a tad more cliffhangery and kept things moving. I don't mind having some really brief chapters. I prefer to not have any overly long chapters, and I start getting a little antsy over 20 pages. If possible, I try to figure out how to break it up. Sometimes there is a way to insert a bit to create a cliffhanger moment, and in doing so, it may also give me an idea for adding a new facet to the story. Nothing huge. Not another whole subplot or anything. Just an added layer of flavor that adds to the complexity of the overall work. Sometimes, in rereading, I'll think of a bigger thought and try to tuck it in.

Also, in rereading with fresh eyes, I'm thinking that it would be logical to question whether or not X was involved in this since X might be associated with Y, who would have that ability. I started adding comments to remind myself to add this part when I get there, so I know that I'll have to go back through the comments and fix anything I've flagged. These are the kinds of things I think about after I've had time to distance myself from the story. Questions and suspicions are great since it's a mystery. The more questions to be figured out, the better.

The book has evolved so much since I started, as did the first book. I had some general ideas in the beginning, but it's like going on a road trip. You may know that you plan to stop in Nashville, but you don't know exactly what's going to happen there or during the trip. There were characters introduced that I didn't even know when I started the book. And some characters... you don't know if you're going to save them or kill them. You think it's going to be one, and it turns out to be the other.

I was also able to add a bit more humor. There has always been humor in the stories, but it's welcome to keep the main character from seeming too angsty and overly dramatic. As usual, I am loving the connection between Evie and Daniel and Ben. They always talk so easily. It's always a little more awkward where other characters are concerned. I think that the Evie-Ben-Daniel friendship is one of the things that draws me back to this world. When I'm feeling disappointed with the real world, this is the place I want to go back to.

In rewriting, I felt so comfortable with Evie, Ben, and Daniel, but then I got to the chapter with this other character. And I suddenly just don't feel happy about it. I don't know why. I don't know what's going on. There is something about this chapter that is really bothering me. I feel like I need to go to therapy and figure it out. This is the whole reason I'm having issues with this story. It's not just this chapter. It's the character. It's the whole subplotline.

I think it's time to deconstruct this subplot and re-imagine it. Maybe I need to change the POV of this chapter to be Evie. Maybe I can come back to the one thing I needed to see from the other character's POV later, after enough time has passed for her to question what happened in that moment. I'll try rewriting it from her POV, and maybe that exercise will knock something loose.

Throughout the story, this subplot is like the elephant in the room. Everything seems to be flowing really well AROUND that one. I could almost write the entire story around the subplot and shy away when I come too close. I'm not sure why I don't want to go there, but I think that it's time that I broke down and re-imagined that entire subplot. In the end, it's a necessary subplot. It has to be there. I think I've just been too afraid to poke at it.

However, the rest of the story is moving along. The dialogue is great, and I've added several fresh ideas. I know that there are great things in store for the other subplot. It will happen.

The good news in all of this is that, as I go along, I can sense which parts need work. I'm finding fewer and fewer parts. I've labeled this post as both draft and rewrite because different parts of the book are in different phases. I have been fussing over the beginning so long that it's very polished. At the same time, there are latter chapters that are barely there. I'm 50 pages into the rewrite, and so far, I have 377 pages, but some of that is front and back matter. I can easily see adding 5K more words to the book.

THEN I can start tightening it up. I don't want to overtighten, though. I like the way the details help to paint the world in brighter colors rather than having an ambiguous character in Anytown, USA. I have read stories where it seemed that authors were being intentionally vague about their characters, afraid to offend anyone or because some person might not be able to relate to someone with blonde hair. I have characters with green, blue, and brown eyes. All different kinds of hair. I like all of them. They are all important.

When I used to read a famous author's books--and not saying I won't read those any more because I might--I thought this person did not seem to like his characters very well. He seemed very judgmental of them. I wanted to write about people I liked. Even though some of my characters may be annoying to the main characters, I can see that person's point of view. I do have at least one evil character in the story. Not a hundred percent evil, and still fun to write.

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