Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Fixing Zion

After 27 exhaustive days of speed writing, I found myself in possession of the first draft of my first novel. What surprised me more than that was the fact that the plot not only made sense, but it told a deep story of a young girl's pain, and her journey through the events that caused it. I was surprised at the intensity at times - some scenes were extremely difficult to write - and how her life intersected with the lives of others. I'm not certain, but I think I saw remnants of a childhood bully in one of the characters. There was just one problem. The writing was a mess.

It was impossible to look over and correct mistakes that I was making during my marathon sessions. I had to type away and hope that the actual writing was making as much sense as I thought it was. Wishful thinking!

In early December I began going through the manuscript with the intention of fixing many of those mistakes while making a list of items that needed further research. My pain mirrored my protagonist's at times when I saw what I put down on paper. How in the world did I make an A in all those English classes AND two legal writing classes? I considered contacting the universities that I attended and requesting a refund. Instead I sat myself in front of the computer and did my best to polish my grammar, style and word usage. And it was working until I hit a major snag.

I hit the critical stage in my story where the characters made the previously considered unrealistic move from Point A to Point B. I decided to help myself through this section by doing a bit of research now instead of waiting until after the current draft was finished. When I looked closer at routes and methods of travel, I knew there was no way my characters would have taken the trip using the reasoning I had provided. I needed a major plot change.

After considering several options, I decided one in particular would work, but that meant that much of my storyline would have to be revised. I felt as if I had crocheted a blanket using several colors, and now had to replace one of those colors without disturbing the others. If there was ever a time when I needed advice from someone more experienced, this was it. But I was on my own.

I decided to look at it from another vantage point. This may be the first novel that I was writing, but it was only one of hundreds that I was reading. And I'm a critical reader. Printing the story out to the character's catalyst for the move, I read through it as I would any book, pleased to see my book in print and also that the story still held my attention, then I filled in any holes I left behind while polishing the language.

And this is where the book currently stands. Though slow-going due to personal issues interfering with my progress, the work nonetheless continues. Weekly check-ins with my yahoo Group, First Novels, helps keep me on track, as does reporting my progress to family, friends - and a blog.

Next Post: Issues and Lessons Learned

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