Stepping back and moving forward.

Most folks who come here know I wrote ALT.  What most folks don’t know is that it’s not my first book.  There were four books before ALT.  Of those four, I’d say three would be worth anything if I took the time to go back and completely rewrite them.  Of those three, only two would have any real merit and chance of being published – even with rewrites.  Writing books is what I started doing when I was seventeen years old.  Before my first book, I wrote a novella.  I did not start with short stories.  I started with the longer stuff.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s in my blood.  Who knows.

I guess the point here is that writing books came easier to me than any other form of narrative.  That’s what I thought, anyway.

I’ve been working – taking notes, plotting, outlining, and actually writing – on THE LIMINAL MAN for almost 8 months now.  To be fair, if you count instances of sickness, personal issues, a full time job and other various real life things that needed my attention, you could probably say it’s more like 5 or 6 months.  In any case, I once wrote that the book would be written this year.  Well, I was wrong.  The book became something bigger than I anticipated.  It grew, and grew, and grew, until it almost surpassed the length of ALT in the first third of the book.

After I finished the first part, I took a few weeks to get my bearings with the story, and a firm idea on where it’s going to go.  Then I sat down and started writing.  I was maybe half way through that chapter when I began to wonder why it wasn’t happening quite as easily as everything else.  So I stopped writing and started thinking.  I came to the conclusion that it’s because I really didn’t care about what’s happening in that particular chapter.  I found I wanted to get to what came after, concerning more important characters and plot points.  I realized what I was writing, and the characters involved in that particular section, didn’t matter.

So, after this extended diatribe, I’ve come to the point:  I’m going back to the first part and removing several characters.  In fact, I’m removing all of the prologue.  It’s not necessary.  Something I seemed to forget along the way was that this story is about Donovan Candle.  It grew into something else, concerning a lot of people, and I was constantly having to juggle those people, stressing over whether or not I was giving them enough of the spotlight, and making sure their stories meshed.  It grew into this huge, complex thing, and that’s not what I set out to do.  Is the story longer?  Yes.  Is there more going on?  Yes.  But, when I really thought about it, I couldn’t justify writing about characters I didn’t care about, especially when I knew I’d be cutting them out of the story eventually.

It’s my hope that these cuts will streamline the story, increase the pacing and bring its main character back to the forefront.

And there you have it.  I follow a lot of writers, either on their blogs or through Twitter, and a trend I’ve noticed lately is that no one seems to write about the process.   It’s always about the end result.  I don’t know about you, but as a writer, I’m always interested to learn how someone else did something, what kind of struggles they had and how they overcame them.

I know a lot of you out there are fellow writers.  Tell me about your struggles.  What works for you?  What doesn’t?

Okay – I’ve got a lot of work to do.  It’s time to go back, so I can go forward.


One thought on “Stepping back and moving forward.

  1. As I only write short stories, I’ve yet to encounter the troubles posed by trying to keep track of the possibly large number of variables and characters that are present in writing a novel. My mechanism for keeping track of how I want a short story to end up is to have a conversation with myself before I even start writing, in text, at the top of a page. I’ll ask myself questions and answer them in full, even tricky ones like ‘why are you writing this?’ or ‘what’s the point in the sex scene?’. Once I’m satisfied with my answers to my questions, I’ll start.

    If at any time in the proceedings I realise I’m not entirely sure what it is that I’m writing, I’ll refer to the conversation and remind myself of my intent. If I’ve gone wildly off the pre-beaten path (as does happen with multiple days in between writing sessions), I will host another conversation with myself asking what exactly do I think I’m doing and why is it better than what I proposed in the first place. I believe this method would adapt well to novel-writing, but we’ll have to wait and see. (:

    Good luck with the revision, Todd.

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