First Friday – Editing – June already and what am I going to do about the structure of my novel

IMG_2521Okay, so I have been so off track with my blogs I had to look up which Friday this was and what I was supposed to be writing. And it’s Sunday, not Friday. But the last month spent traveling, as well as being sick while traveling, has interrupted my routine.

Not only my blogging routine, but my writing routine. I am pretty religious about spending my three hours a day at the keyboard. If not at the keyboard, then with pen and paper, or researching marketing strategies or catching up on my bookkeeping. Although, as a independently published author, my bookkeeping is fairly basic.IMG_2524

But I did work while driving around New Mexico, and as I headed home through Colorado, Utah and Nevada. It was a lot of driving, with beautiful rest stops along the way. I would park and write for a while, then recline to stretch out my aching knees, before I hit the road once more. I also got an email response from my editor and tutor, Jennifer duBois, so I had some things to think about while driving.

IMG_2478I am in love with the split novel. Nearly everything I have written starts out with two points of view, two time periods or two something. But I am learning that juggling two separate aspects of the novel is more than twice as hard. Not only do each of the sections have to stand alone, but they have to intertwine to keep the reader interested and knowledgeable. In other words, I don’t want to lose the reader because they can’t remember what happened. No one likes to keep turning back the pages with an “Oh yeah. Now I remember.”

For my trip I had brought several audio books. On the drive home I chose to listen to “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. One of my favorite books. As I listened I realized that by sectioning the book into time periods, she was able to tell a complete story, rather than sprinkling the facts into a trail of breadcrumbs which led the reader to the prize. My book–Hidden Within the Stones–has been structured with alternating chapters of present and past. The notes from Jennifer duBois pointed out that in my chapters of the past I was having the same issue I had earlier in my chapters from the present. Incomplete scenes which drop the reader off in the middle of a tense moment and never return to give the satisfaction of tension and resolution. As I drove I puzzled over how I would fix this problem without making my book ten thousand pages long. I couldn’t write the sections from the past – six or seven chapters of each of five time periods – into the same complete story of the present – thirty-five chapters about Gabriella.IMG_2438

But what if I changed my structure? Model it after People of the Book? Give the reader a section of each time period/point of view, then switch back to the present? Then the reader can feel the satisfaction of a complete mini-story, before moving back to Gabriella and what is happening in her world.

So that is my goal this week. Lots of cut and paste (and careful saving of the old version, in case I change my mind again) will be happening. It won’t be the first time I have had to make major changes to a manuscript. In Imperfecta I completely eliminated the dual perspective. In Hidden Within the Stones I re-wrote twelve chapters, changing the book from third person to first person. I’m glad I made both those changes, so I am hoping this is the right choice.

Fingers crossed.

 

Comments

  1. I love the idea of a little back info at a time …I confuse easily, and it spoils the fun to have to keep notes while reading …(also agree that 10 thousand pages may be a bit long :)..Looking forward to hearing more. ( and ummmm – maybe a Perfecta sequel?)

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