Friday, August 29, 2014

HOW TO WRITE A BETTER BOOK

Last week, I wrote about my sinking realization that, in the book I am writing live at: http://alinaadamsmedia.com/live/, one of the supporting characters was boring the hell out of me to write. Which meant he must be boring the hell out of you to read.

As I result, I went back and turned two (boring) chapters into two (hopefully less boring) pages (read all about it, here). I thought that was it and I could start moving forward again.

All went well for a couple of scenes. Or, at least, I was happy with them for the time being.  And then I realized that an argument that my hero and heroine, Seth and Lauren, were having at the end of Chapter Eight was very similar to one they'd had in Chapter Six. And there was no need for both of them.

Confession Time: I love plot. "What's going to happen next?" is what keeps me turning pages in whatever genre I'm reading. Maybe it comes from a lifetime of soap-watching. Or Sidney Sheldon reading. Maybe it's an undiagnosed case of ADD. Whatever the reason, I like action (though of the emotional and romantic, not violent and loud variety). I like "the good parts." In fact, it is my goal to make the whole of my next novel nothing but "good parts."

So, even though I liked many of my early scenes and thought they added to the overall character development, I made the tough decision to cut them - including the first argument and all of its subsequent follow-up - so that readers could get to the "good parts" faster. My hope is that the character traits high-lighted in those "lost" scenes will, nonetheless, appear elsewhere, even if only subliminally.

I cut Seth and Lauren's original argument, which means I cut the four years they spent not speaking to each other, her apology to him and their tentative reconciliation.

This also solved another problem I'd blogged about earlier, how to make time pass smoothly in a multi-year saga without resorting to The Princess Bride's "What with one thing and another, three years passed." I thought I'd come up with a pretty clever narrative solution, but that went away with this latest edit, so I just adopted a reader's earlier suggestion to put the date at the start of the chapter. (See, I'm keeping my promise to incorporate reader ideas into the story!)

I read a writing tip this week that said, "Don't edit as you write. Get the first draft down first."

But, here's the thing that doesn't make sense to me: If the beginning isn't right, how can what comes after ever be? And if I were to keep on writing in spite of my suspicion that the book had already gotten away from me, then wouldn't that just lead me further and further down the wrong path, which would then necessitate even lengthier rewrites in the second pass? I have an outline for my story. The first few chapters are supposed to set it up. When I felt they weren't working, I went back to fix them so that the next chapters could be more of what I was shooting for.

What do you think? Was it the wrong approach?

Let me know!

4 comments:

Unknown said...


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