Monday, July 26, 2010

Bits and Pieces

What I'm Reading

I'm almost finished with the YA novel Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender. It's a good one, a combination of teen angst, a paranormal mystery including a spirit possession, and an interesting study in family dynamics.

I haven't decided what book to read next, but I have two checked out of the library so should probably see what they're like first. Michele Malkin's non-fiction book about the Obama administration, The Culture of Corruption, is one. The other is fiction: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. I read a lot of political commentary from all points of view, but I'm a little drained by all the articles I've had to read as I prepare to vote in the Colorado primary, so I might read the novel first. It won a Hugo Award. It ought to be good.


The Reunion Bio

I finished the thing and sent it. Since I could not get my guy to write his own bio (mostly because he knew I'd cave and do it for him), I combined our stories and did it all on one page. I was never so happy to get a chore off my To Do List.


More Help on Smashwords and Kindle

Blogger friend Marian Allen has a Part 1 Publishing on Kindle and Smashwords at her blog today. This is information I need, so I was glad to see her discussing her own experience with the process.


Working on Revisions and Dealing with Backstory and Changes in Point of View

The novel I'm working on, Wishing Caswell Dead, was written with the main character (a young girl named Jo Mae Proud) in first person and other characters in third person. Each third person chapter includes a lot of backstory. Although I love my characters and definitely want their story told, I am not comfortable with the method I chose.

Changing the whole novel to Jo Mae's point of view in third person seems the best of all the alternatives I considered. I tested a rewrite of the first two pages on my critique group this week, and the feedback I have so far tells me I'm on the right track.

But there are challenges. The backstory of the other characters may get lost if I can't find a way to have the character talk directly to Jo Mae about their lives, or at least have Jo Mae overhear conversations. This technique will work with some characters, but not with others. I have a feeling I'm going to cut a lot of secondary character backstory while I'm adding more detail and depth to Jo Mae's story.

Perhaps those stories I delete from this manuscript will be useful someday. I could create blog posts written by the characters, which would be great for a blog book tour.

This isn't the first time I've rewritten this novel. The first draft was too full of flashbacks and because of the multiple point of view, events didn't happen chronologically. To remedy that situation, I printed out the novel and spread it out across the floor, cutting and pasting to get the order right. Then I went back to the computer and "fixed" it.

The second and third rewrites were less drastic. I tried to make it feel more like a mystery by moving one of the ending chapters to the front, so the first chapter read more like a prologue. Now I've changed that back again so I can introduce Jo Mae in the first chapter and let her tell her story all the way through.

Do you have a manuscript you've been fiddling with for two or more years? How drastic have the changes been in your rewrites? Do you sometimes feel as though you're writing the neverending story?

22 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patricia - I know exactly what you mean! I made some major changes to my current WIP, actually, and they've set it back. Like you, though, I think the changes will make the work better. I think that's the most important thing.

Clarissa Draper said...

I want you to publish on Kindle because I can order your books! Yes, that's something I'm looking forward to.
CD

Marian Allen said...

Patricia, first, thanks for the mention! Part 2 is up today.

I have a manuscript I've been fiddling with for 20 years! I kept getting agents for it who wanted this change or that change and then, while I was ripping through the changes, decided the project was too big and moved on. By the time the fourth agent quit me, the book had been messed with until it was dead. I had to write down the best bits of all the various versions and go back to the original, grafting the good parts into it.

A publisher recently read it and liked some of it, but wanted ... changes.... I'm still chewing that one over. ha!

As far as what to do with your characters' backstories: I humbly suggest you only tell Jo Mae what she needs to know, write stories for each of the characters you want to explore, and sell or give them away electronically along with a sample chapter of the novel.

Hugs,
MA

Karen Walker said...

My memoir was like that, Patricia. I have no idea how many rewrites it went through before it was finally "done." Of course, if I were doing it again....
Karen

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Enjoy the read Patricia most interesting,

Yvonne.

Jemi Fraser said...

Glad you got the bios done!

Reworking the story from the very bones is hard. I've got a story I wrote just for fun years ago. I think the bones are good - in fact I think it could make a good series. But it needs a total redo. Not sure I'm up to it yet. :)

Amy Kathleen Ryan said...

The revision sounds difficult, Pat, but they always are. At least you have an awesome title! Wishing Caswell Dead. It's really great.

Talli Roland said...

Right now, I do feel like I'm writing the never-ending story. Argh! I shall persevere, though!

Kay said...

I think I've got you beat on the time line. I've been playing with Dark Solstice since 2004.

Only positive result: The first three chapters I chopped for being "prologuish" sold to WolfSinger Publications to be released in 2011. May you have better luck with Caswell, like a major publisher.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi everyone -- I don't really sleep until noon. It's just that I've been doing my errands and chores in the morning, trying to beat the heat.

There's a battle that goes on within -- get a book finished and try to get it published no matter what, or keep working on it to make it the best novel we can possibly write. With this particular book, I love the characters so much that I want their story to be perfect. Because of that, I run the risk of never letting go, overwriting, or giving up.

Margot, Jemi, and Talli -- apparently you share my dilemma with some of your work. I guess we'll see what happens if we just keep plugging away.

Marian, thanks for the link to Part II of the Smashwoods/Kindle story. I need to get that done (thanks for the extra push, Clarissa).

Marian, I also like your suggestions for the extra story sections I'll end up deleting from my manuscript. Maybe I've written a whole series and just don't know it.

Karen, I know exactly what you mean. I've thought of a dozen things I'd do differently if I revised those first two mysteries again. It's hard to let go.

Hi Yvonne -- it's always great to see you here. I love dropping in on your blog to see what wonderful music you've chosen to support your post.

Amy, Hi! I had to chuckle at your comment. The title of the book is probably the one thing I'll never change -- it works for the story no matter how I write it.

Kay -- thanks for the good wishes. You never know what's going to happen in this writing world. It's interesting that your "chopped" part will be published (Congratulations again). It's a good lesson, though. We should never throw away anything we write.

Michele Emrath said...

I hate to delete. I don't mind editing, but I have this fear that if I ever delete a scene I'll want it some day. So, I need a way to organize those deleted scenes. Any tips?

Sounds like you've had a lot going on. Glad you're making headway!

Michele
SouthernCityMysteries

Ann Best said...

It is so fascinating to read about the process you're going through as you revise this novel. And yes, I do feel like it's never-ending, this book I'm revising right now, my first book which I actually wrote as a master's thesis over 22 years ago. I think it's been a bit like Karen Walker's experience trying to get it publishable.

Your posts are always so informative. Thanks for this link for publishing on Kindle and Smashwords.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Michele, when I begin serious revisions, I save the manuscript in a new file (usually the title plus the revision number -- in my case, this is Wishing Caswell Dead #6). That way, I still have the complete manuscript saved (and sometimes printed) so I can always go back to the sections that no longer exist in the revised version.

Hi Ann, so you're in the same boat with your novel. As Talli said, it really does sometimes feel like the neverending story.

Stephen Tremp said...

I can relate as the rewrite to Breakthrough (POV change) was a huge mountain to climb. Now that that's behine me I can work on the two WIPs that need to be finished and sent off to Marvinfor editing.

Stephen Tremp

Patricia Stoltey said...

Steve -- I assume those are the sequels to Breakthrough. I keep wondering what kind of trouble Chase will be in next.

Linda L. Henk said...

I have a 5000 word personal essay that I've worked on and reworked on and re-reworked on since 2007. I keep thinking I'm done. I send it out for consideration and I get the typical rejection form letter or slip. Ugh! But I haven't given up. It will go to the critique group with a plea for help.

Peggy Frezon said...

Good luck with your revision. I have a YA fiction ms I've written from 3 different third person POVs. Keep wondering if I might change that. Critique group feedback is a great help.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Linda and Peggy -- you're right, critique groups are a big help. This manuscript (#5 version) has been 75% critiqued by my group and reviewed by my first reader. But still...I know it's not quite ready. Gut instinct, I think.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

For me it’s very hard to know when to quit, so I always feel as though I’m writing a never ending story. Even after my first book was published, I was still thinking up things I could change about it. My second novel seems to be going down the same path.

Cricket McRae said...

Thanks to you asking me to post about my journey to publishing I dug out my Montana rancher mystery again. So now, among other things, I'm playing with that.

I must say that the major changes you're looking at speak of real commitment and creative courage. Huzzah!
Hearth Cricket

Patricia Stoltey said...

Jane -- I'm thinking I'm going to be too old and decrepit to care by the time I get this book finished.

Hi Cricket -- I like the idea of a Montana rancher series. As for my project, at least I finally know what I want to do. Sure took long enough.

Cruella Collett said...

I think your plan sounds like a good idea. Third person POV is usually my favourite, because it allows us to focus on the most important character without having to listen to his/her voice in the narrative (which I often find tiresome). Good luck!