Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Writing Update

In case you have all been frustrated, not wanting to nag but really wondering how the novel is going, I'm finally ready to lay it all on the table.

I petered out on Seek Ye First shortly after starting it a few years ago because I was unhappy with the mystery and the pacing was all wrong. In short, it was a classic first attempt.

So I let it sit, and I worked on some short stories for a while, some essays, a chunk of a memoir, and another novel. By this time, I was ready to look at Seek Ye First again, this time with a bit more understanding of where I went wrong:
  1. I need to have a good sense of the real structure of a novel - a rough outline with the major mileposts spaced out for me - before I begin. Perhaps I'll get better with practice and eventually not need this crutch, but perhaps not. I like the idea of a set structure, and I think it helps keep the emphasis where I want it.
  2. I was writing the protagonist as a fantasy version of me - with my dream house in my dream neighborhood, for example - and that was getting in the way of her character development.
  3. And I was trying to squeeze too many political (actually, religious, in this case) opinions into the novel to make a point, which was really getting in the way of the story.
It was hard to let all that go, to throw away what I'd written, to completely rework the mystery itself, to create new characters, to drop the points I was trying to make. It took a lot longer than I'd expected to do character studies for each of my new characters, to develop a mystery that I'm happy with, and to outline the plot the way I want it.

But it feels a lot better to me now, and, after an evening at Borders hammering out the details of my outline, I'm finally done being paralyzed with fear and am ready to start writing tomorrow, three weeks later than I'd intended.

Hopefully, the writing will go smoothly now, with the amount of prep work I've done. We'll see tomorrow! For inspiration and influence, I'm reading Agatha Christie and Julie Kaewert.

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