After posting yesterday, writer’s block set it. Some wit said that writer’s block happens when writers have nothing to say and the sad thing is, it doesn’t happen to them more often. Mine wasn’t based on having nothing to say; mine was based on grief and fear. As I studied the beta reader’s comments, there was a little bit of grief in losing the simple story I had. I knew that, for the most part, he was on target with his comments. I have heard him critique shorter pieces and that was why I was excited when he agreed to be a beta reader for me. Still, there was a sense of grief as I realized that all those plot holes and inconsistencies that I had learned to love had to go. I believe that what will rise from the ashes will be a much better story, but it will require a lot more work than a few small touch ups. And that’s where the fear came in.
I realized I needed to do a lot of foundation work before I went back to rewriting. I had to understand my characters in depth, including my living villain. I had to change the motivation for my villain while, at the same time, make his good character qualities stronger. I had to have a better explanation for the break in the family relationships of my main character. I needed to understand my world and place it in proper context on its planet – especially for future novels. I needed to understand my nameless, faceless villain and find ways to weave the background of that agency into the story so that tales of the current nature will make sense. I even realized that the changes I made for this book, would affect the other books – especially since the original title no longer made sense in light of the ideas I had for changing things.
So, I had a moment yesterday. I opened up the file for this book and stared at the character page for my male main character. I couldn’t even put down the height. I went away and looked at something else. I don’t know how many times I went to that page, and clicked away from it because of the fear of doing this right. I couldn’t work on some other writing that I had to do either. One of them is a writing challenge for 400 words a day. Later in the evening I finally passed 400 words, but not by much. So yesterday I had a moment. Today, I have hope. Today, I will begin reworking my characters and falling so much in love with them again that I want to be sure and tell their story – different as it may be. Today, I begin the process of falling in love with my better, more complex story as I progress towards becoming an author.
A number of years ago I wrote a book. I think I told a pretty good story. I wrote two sequels so that now I have a trilogy. I have no doubt that if I had tried to publish them as they were, a few people might have bought them and enjoyed the stories. I might even have made a little bit of money. But I want to publish them the right way. I want to make sure that the stories hold together. I want that world to be consistent. So, I rewrote Book 1. You’ve seen some of the ARC chapters here. I was in love with the story so the book didn’t change a whole lot – I did try to shore up some areas that I realized were weak. I sent the book out for query and to beta readers. 1 agent has already told me “No.” I expected that, to be honest. I got back the reactions from one beta reader.
While enjoying the overall story, he pointed out some weaknesses and omissions. Most of the weaknesses I think I knew, deep down. Perhaps I thought that they weren’t really weak parts of the story, especially after I tried to strengthen some; perhaps I thought that those parts were weak because of my own insecurity and that others wouldn’t see them. He saw them. So, I have a couple of options: I can choose to ignore those parts of the criticism that would require a lot of work to fix and remain a story teller, or I can choose to become an author.
The first and second draft were the basics of the story I had in me. It was a nice story. The comments from my beta reader will make my “nice” story become a much stronger book. In order to follow this reader’s advice and become an author, I’m going to need to do a major re-tooling of the book. Plot points that hinged on one aspect of my main character will need to be completely re-written. My villain will need to be shown as more sneak and conniving while at the same time his positive qualities will have to come out. I will have to throw out parts of the story that I loved. I will have to make a much more determined effort to build and flesh out the world in which this story takes place and use ::shudder:: description – one of my weakest points.
Today I begin to become an author instead of just a story teller or a writer. I won’t begin by re-writing again. I will begin by getting to know my characters even better. I will begin to flesh out my world. My hope and my prayer is that by the time I finish this process of re-tooling this writing, it will be more than just a good story – it will be a book that I can be proud of. Join me on the journey. Give me suggestions as I walk…now…onto the work.
(Edit Note: All of these posts will be found under the “Journaling” Category)