(Note to Followers/Readers: At the end of October, I won’t publish a blog entry. The next entry will be November 30, 2017.)
At the beginning of September, I gave serious consideration to throwing in the towel. After much soul searching, a decision occurred. I would continue to write.
As mentioned in previous months, I’ve been struggling. How can I manage the nine various improvements required for a better story? Focus on one and rewrite eight more times? It appeared to be a Sisyphean task.
The breakthrough came when I decided to alter the process by writing chunks of material. I would complete a few consecutive chapters focusing on several major improvements. Then I would review and incorporate the other issues I needed to address per my editor. By breaking the rewrite into reasonable segments, I could avoid the constant loop of rolling the stone up the hill.
I’ll update you in November. In the meantime, I went to a toy store for my grandchildren (even at my age, I still love perusing toy stores so I use my grandchildren as an excuse). On the shelf was the toy “Magic 8 Ball”. I hope you remember it from your childhood. You ask it a question and roll it over for the answer.
So I picked it up and softly stated: “Will my novel ever be finished?” Rolling it over the following answer appeared: “Everything points to a Yes.”
I completed my research on transformations this month. I read portions of two books by Anne Rice (Interview With The Vampire and The Wolf Gift), the opening chapters of The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, and articles about NDE. My writing coach recommended all of these, but before learning about extrasensory perception, I had to look up the meaning of “NDE” (Near Death Experiences).
I found all of them instructive. Anne Rice’s descriptions were very Victorian even though the werewolf novel occurred in more modern times. Glen Duncan made me chuckle when his werewolf described his existence in the present (“Two nights ago I’d eaten a forty-three-year-old hedge fund specialist. I’ve been in a phase of taking the ones nobody wants.”) The NDE’s mainly described out of body experiences.
Toward the end of the month, I attempted to incorporate what I learned into describing how my protagonist coped with his new, amazing skill sets. I found my writing flowed onto the page more like molasses than water. I guess learning new techniques will take some time.
I’ve revised the opening chapters. Although their “Rewrite #2” composition has completely disappeared, several scenes will be reborn in later chapters.
I had fun adding more punch and intrigue. I assume my writing coach/editor will have further suggestions, but I believe I’m on the right path. As previously mentioned, a more focused approach has lead to more creativity.
The next hurdle involves getting my sensory images flowing. My protagonist has been brought to the emergency room after a shark attack. I currently describe the scene but not from my hero’s perspective. I have to portray what he’s experiencing. A transformation is taking place. My writing coach suggested I do some research on werewolves. How do the authors of this genre describe the metamorphosis?
My hero isn’t a werewolf, but something unusual is happening to him. It will be fun to escalate this enigma. I’ll be doing some research before jumping back into writing.
I continue to work on my re-write, but the progress remains slow. I’m focused on all the issues my editor raised which results in a meticulous approach.
This month I continued working on the first few chapters making sure I incorporated more action. I need to grab the reader from the start instead of later in the novel. Taking my editor’s advice I rewrote the “shark attack” chapter. She suggested reading how other authors described the action. My favorite was Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel Jaws. He definitely pulls the reader into the story with his opening sequence. Something I hope to emulate.
I do enjoy this creative side of the process. Hopefully the integration of all these changes will become easier and my writing pace will pick up.
During the past month, I’ve made progress. Unfortunately the amount remains minuscule because I want to be more meticulous incorporating my editor’s advice.
Over the years, as I learned more about writing, my fascination with the process grew. Initially, once the birth of the story arc occurred, I thought my innate writing style would flesh out the story. In retrospect, I exhibited the naivety of a “blooming novelist”.
I now realize writing a good, compelling story involves numerous elements. Tackling these components requires less spontaneity and more focused creativity. Using this methodology I’ve rewritten several chapters, but instead of flowing onto the page, my words pour like molasses. The result: my writing became more engaging. A goal I hope to achieve for my entire novel.
I’ve been frustrated with my progress this month. Having an analytical mind, I wanted to discover its source. My editor/writing coach completed the first edit back in November. She stated the story had good structure. The changes wouldn’t involve a tear down, but just a remodel. She wanted me to focus on nine areas that needed improvement.
Naively I hoped for just a couple of tweaks and then preparation for publication. My story needs much more work and this became the source of my frustration.
The spontaneity of the rough draft had disappeared. Now every sentence requires more introspection and the judicious use of words.
Additionally, elements I really liked had to be “remodeled”. For example, I enjoyed describing a damselfish “pugnaciously defending its territory like a feisty Tinker Bell”. This reference to Peter Pan’s loyal servant ended up on the cutting floor as being too cute for my thriller genre. My editor/writing coach hit the nail on the head, but I’ll still miss this image.
My friend, Bill Percy, who has published two novels told me: “I enjoy the work after the editor has gotten done with it. Always feels like the work gets stronger, and the ‘art’ more creative”.
I do find myself getting more creative. I just have to accept this segment of the process. It’s time for me to take a deep breath and move forward.
With the strong flow of political news from Washington, D.C. this month, I momentarily thought about spinning my progress like a politician. Instead, the following words popped into my mind: “The truth will set you free”.
During the first half of the month, I accomplished a variety of tasks but remained undisciplined as a writer. I began the chapter after the prologue, but never finished its rewrite.
A scheduled visit by my two daughters occurred during the second half of the month. My oldest arrived first and we caught up on the wonderful work she is doing at her non-profit, New Politics. My second daughter arrived with her husband and two adorable grandchildren: a two and a half-year old girl and a four-month old boy. With unmitigated joy, the five adults spent their time entertaining and caring for the two little ones which left my writing dormant.
Even with all this activity my story and future edits kept floating in my consciousness. Since the truth has set me free, I can now approach April with more persistence. Hopefully at the end of next month, I will have more to progress to report.