The first half of my book was a train wreck. It took me quite awhile to get it in decent working order, but I can say that for the most part, aside from some much-needed editing, it’s pretty good. Not perfect, but definitely a train chugging along the story railways.
Not so the second half.
After spending several weeks trying to salvage what has turned into a rusty, crack-filled, shipwrecked mess, I’ve decided to go back and reinvent the last half of my book. This isn’t something I approached lightly, or with any enthusiasm whatsoever (if my husband finds out, he’ll kill me. He’s done with this book as much as I am). I was hoping I was at the point where I could just Margie-EDIT the thing and slap a “Ready to Submit” sticker on it.
There are several reasons why that won’t work.
1. Coincidental Ending
As I mentioned in a previous post, coincidences to get your character into trouble are okay, but coincidences to get them out of trouble aren’t. I had major coincidences going on (and in fact, Susannah magically “finds” the evidence in order to save Nate at the end – I hadn’t really figured out exactly how that was going to happen).
2. Useless Scenes
One of the concerns I had as I got through the first half of the book was my word count, which had skyrocketed to 120K. Well, I’m not worried about that anymore. There are several scenes (and a subplot and two characters) that are on the chopping block. I also had a few “sittin’-and-thinkin’” scenes, and some that, quite honestly, I had no idea why they were there. A cutting I will go…
3. A Marriage License Issue
So the crux of my story is that Nate and Susannah marry for pretend in order to avoid Susannah being married off to her uncle’s friend, the viscount. Except that there’s no way she could marry – legally or otherwise – in England in 1815 without consent from her guardian, which is her uncle. I had to do some research on this and figure out how to make the whole fake marriage thing work plausibly, as well as the amazing ending I have planned, both for history’s sake and the story’s sake. (I did…I think.)
4. Building Tensions Between Uncle and Viscount
Another major story point is the power shift that happens between Susannah’s uncle and the viscount. It just wasn’t happening. It seemed incredibly forced and unnatural, which means what I have has to go.
There’s more, but I won’t bore you with it. Suffice to say, I needed to reboot the end.
So I spent a few days last week and today going through two things – a “story map” that I had created a year ago to piece together the different parts of the story, and a brief outline I created on my whiteboard for all of the major characters – a very basic “here’s what they do.”
The good news is that I have narrowed down my story into some basic events. Certainly not a detained outline, by any means (although it is my intention to do that, mostly for detail and timing purposes). But I know what each character needs to do at a minimum, and I think that was my problem with my earlier draft. I’d thrown everything and the kitchen sink in there and it was a convoluted, bunch-a-people-talking, magically-solving-the-mystery mess.
Over the next few days I plan to expand my outline and figure out a few logistical problems with how Susannah finds the evidence (I’ve brainstormed with my CP, but need to make it airtight), then it’ll be rewrite time. Don’t get me wrong – much of what I have I can reuse (needing a good edit, of course), but first it’s all going in the Scrivener Trash Can. The whole second half. I will then add chapters back one by one (if they fit the outline), revise, and write/rewrite anything new or unsalvageable.
Not a boring writing week, for sure. How’s your writing been? Any major stumbling blocks lately?