I’ve been laughing at myself. When I finished the first draft of April Showers 1921, I thought, what a mess. Then I began hunting for what to do.
I found problems with structure, character motivation, pacing, story-telling… Whatever could go wrong seemed present. Very disheartening.
I began hunting fixes, slicing like a surgeon removing tumors. Draft two was finished and stalled, then three was written and discarded, followed by four. I lamented to myself, “This is like telling the history of World War II. So much happened. How do I find the right handle to it?”
That lament helped. Although I was complaining, it was true. The novel sprawled in a million directions. I needed to reduce the sprawl and improve the story.
Meanwhile, in parallel, I was reading thrillers. I was reminded of a Stephen King quote: “I showed them what can happen, and then I make them wait for it to happen again.” I’m paraphrasing. Forgive me. Maybe it wasn’t King, too, but I thought it was.
Whoever came up with that quote, it helped me sharpen my story’s focus, and tightened my grip on the sprawl.
I created some rules for myself.
- Head down. Focus, and stay focused. Work hard. Concentrate.
- Stay humble. Ride the wave. It’s a long ride, so manage your energy and emotions.
- Write better. Tell a better story. Sharpen your story-telling skills.
The last was revealing. I’d always concentrated on writing, putting words after words, fixing pacing and finishing novels and stories. Now, I decided that I needed to elevate my efforts and focus on being a better writer. That would hopefully result in a better story and novel.
It required hard decisions. Cut this arc. Modify that one. Tens of thousands of words were shred.
Partway through draft number seven. I think I’ve found a grip. I won’t know until I’ve finished and read it through again.
Done writing and editing like crazy for today. Time to go for a walk and let myself decompose.