The first edit is finished and posted. The angry argument has been removed from the scene. It will reappear later in the story.
I went to a new workshop tonight, the Palm Harbor School of the Novel. It was their second monthly meeting. They have a couple of writers who have previously been published, so their perspective will be extremely valuable. We each had an opportunity to read five pages of our writing if we wished, and me being the approval-seeking whore that I am… I wished. I read the first scene of Chapter One, that being approximately five double-spaced pages of material. The feedback I got was generally good. Some of my research was questioned, which was fair. My writing was well-received, particularly my concise use of dialogue, which I appreciated. The best suggestion I received was something that at once surprised me and relieved me. I’m going back to the Prologue idea, but with just the two scenes of Chapter One being the Prologue. What is currently Chapter Two will be the new Chapter One. This will also introduce the central character in Chapter One, which is as it should be. Sorry about the changing of things (again), but that’s what happens during the draft stage of writing. It’s kinda like making sausage.
I’d been trying to write the final scene of Chapter 3 and having some trouble. While discussing the book with Denise, she mentioned a couple of things in the way of criticism that were really helpful. One was that in several scenes I either mention or outright focus on the death of Charles and Eva’s daughter Elizabeth. To me, each mention of it made sense, added to the story, and fit where I put it. But Denise turned out to be right, too. It was a bit of overkill to keep bringing it up in scene after scene. The problem was a storyline structure that naturally and repeatedly hearkened back to the Goodmans’ tragedy. While Denise and I were discussing this, it also occurred to me that while Eva is reacting naturally to the events in each scene, I’m missing an opportunity to show the descent of her mental and emotional stability in a natural progression.
So, I’m rewriting the story from the end of the last scene of Chapter 2 onward. I’m re-using as much of the material as possible, but with some careful rearranging of things and adding some new material I’m hoping that I can address the problem Denise highlighted and create a sequence of events for Eva to naturally react to which will show a steady deterioration of her grasp of reality.
With some excellent criticism, the story is going to have a chance to become stronger and better! Thank you, Denise!
First of all, I want to thank all of you for hanging in with me through this past week. It’s been a difficult one. I also want to let you know that chances are what I’m posting here may not be the end of the scene, and likely won’t be. But it did feel like a pause point and I’d worked so hard on this and you all have waited so patiently that I thought I would go ahead and post it. Please, as always, feel free to comment. I do read all of your comments and enjoy seeing feedback from you on the site. This scene has been kicking my ass hard and between a seemingly endless succession of distractions (including the worst allergy attack I’ve ever experienced in my life) and the inherent difficulties in the scene, I finally got it pretty much down, I think. I’ll fess up straightaway to some known issues:
The pacing needs work. I know it does. The main culprit here, I think, is that I have some clumsily-written transitions and places where conversation drags and places where narrative exposition is too brief. That’s the sort of thing that gets fixed in editing, so I’m not all too concerned about it now. One of the most common bits of advice I’ve read for beginning novel writers is to resist the urge to revise and edit the draft while writing it, to just “get it down”.
The length. I am concerned that this scene runs so long (over 1,800 words, believe it or not). I would like to break it up, but structurally I’m not sure how to do it. All of the events take place in the same place and time and among the same set of characters. How can I make this into two scenes? It would be like trying to book a flight from JFK to La Guardia. So, ‘yes’ I know it’s long, and ‘no’ I have no idea what to do about it. If any of you have any ideas, I’m all ears. Just post them in the comments section below the scene on the scene page.
At any rate, and without further ado, here’s the link to Chapter 2 – Scene Three. Enjoy!
[Editor’s Note: This blog entry was written when the content which is now Chapters One through Three was originally going to be the Prologue. But the “Prologue” ran far too long to be a Prologue so I made it the start of the book. So, the “problem” I complained about in this blog entry was resolved.]
I told some of you that the Prologue was going to comprise 6 scenes and that the scene I was currently working on was the sixth and final scene, bringing the Prologue to a conclusion. Well, it appears that the book has made a liar of me. I just finished the sixth scene and the introductory story of the Prologue just isn’t done. I have this sinking impression that any editor worth their salt would tell me to cut this Prologue in about half, but I hope not because if I have to trim this Prologue as drastically as all that, then I’d probably rather shove an icepick in my eye.
One more scene ought to do it, and before I get to that I’ll go ahead and post Scene Six. It turned out to be a bit more action-oriented than I thought it would be as I sat down to write it. I had in mind an almost Currier & Ives / Norman Rockwell feel for the scene and it did start out that way, but sometimes when you’re writing characters do what the hell they want and things happen that you never considered when you started. And, well, it just happened to me. And now I can safely push the spotlight away from myself and put it where it truly belongs – on the story itself. This story is wanting to be told, it is demanding to be told, and it will be told; but I was foolish to ever think that this was my story or my talent that was creating it. It’s as if this story exists already as a thing and it is simply using me to bring itself into the world. It may be my fingers on the keyboard but I’ve just realized that I’m simply along for the ride, same as you.
I wonder what the hell these people are going to do next…