Monday, August 22, 2011

Gaining New Perspective: A Lesson from a Derailed Novel

As the dust of Faye settles and I'm able to more rationally look back over the massive derailment that is the novel, I realized that despite the immense frustrations of the project, I think I learned more while working on this one novel than I did on the previous four. I learned a lot of what not to do (rush down plot holes, begin before the plot is solid, change points of view, have a vague theme, have a vague emphasis of the overarcing story, and change the magic/world system midway through the novel—to name a few).

There were also a lot of productive lessons—I defined what it takes for me to write a good novel, I streamlined what makes a novel great (to me), and I pinpointed my key weaknesses (overwriting and dialog).

Happily, I found a workaround for the my troubles with dialog: third-person perspective.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Power of Doing Nothing

I finished Faye with a smear of mixed emotions and underwhelming ennui. After a sprint that lasted ten months rather than the predicted two, I was numb. The book ballooned beyond control to over 850 pages—a length no editor wants in a debut and a length that far exceeded what was necessary for the story. I'd self-indulged in plot paths and ill-fated decisions regarding point of view and character exploration. Ahead of me was a massive edit and rewrite, if I could muster the energy.

Meanwhile, two other stories, both seeming infinitely more interesting and marketable, build in the back of my mind, spilling over to cover the hallway-length whiteboard and splatter the walls on colorful sticky notes.