You guys… revision is hard.
I have finished what I’m calling the fourth draft of my first novel (the one tentatively titled the sea between us). I’ve set the second (still unfinished) novel aside for a while while I concentrate on getting #1 up to scratch. It’s daunting work. I can write a novel any old day, but to take what I’ve written and refine it? So. Hard.
I struggle with keeping myself motivated, and I find that I can stay on track only if I promise friends it will be finished by a certain date, so that they can read it. Most of my friends are readers, not writers, though a couple are trudging through first and second novels themselves. My friends’ response, for the most part, has been very favorable, and the feedback is incredibly helpful. I think I’ve come a long way from the first draft, and it shouldn’t be that much longer before I feel good enough about the book to call it finished.
But before then, I have feedback to consider as I make more revisions:
- Generally, people like the story. To me, this is the best thing ever.
- I’ve created believable, likable characters.
- My protagonist is strong, and people want to be on her side. Readers are pulling for her.
- The setting is concrete and defined (only one friend disagreed with this).
- Apparently, I write good dialogue.
- People seem to enjoy the band scenes and the individual band members.
- I’m still holding back – this is a major hurdle for me as a writer. I keep the reins tight and won’t let go.
- There is not enough conflict in long stretches of the story, especially in the second half of the novel.
- While believable, the characters are also too nice, and maybe I am too easy on them. I should make them suffer a little.
- There are parts where I’m “telling,” not “showing,” particularly in the second half of the novel.
- There might not have been enough buildup to the conflict at the end.
- The relationship between my main characters might not be entirely believable as a teenage relationship – it is too cookie-cutter perfect.
- The best friend character could be expanded upon.
- The protagonist may need to change even more over the course of the book.
So, what’s next for my book? Definitely more revision. It’s time to make some really difficult decisions about plot. Do I make some major changes to make the story more dynamic? Do I adjust the timeline of what happens in the story? Do I focus more on certain plot points and less on others? Do I make some big cuts? I have so much emotionally invested in this story that making these decisions will probably be a little heartbreaking. But I owe it to my characters to make the best story for them.
Over Christmas, I found my high school journal in my childhood bedroom. It is beyond hilarious. Every entry is either an over-the-top melodramatic poem or an over-the-top melodramatic journal entry about how I hate a) my life; b) my friends; c) my parents; d) my hometown; e) all of the above (Mom, Dad, and my friends: if you’re reading this, I was never actually serious about hating any of you. I was very serious about being – or appearing to be – an emotional trainwreck.). I think I need to sit down and read that thing cover-to-cover, and when I’m done laughing hysterically at myself, I should channel some of that hardcore teenage angst into my cute little teenage love story.
Maybe that will help me get from here to where I want to be: FINISHED.