Today I deliberately deleted several chapters of my novel

Today I deliberately deleted several chapters of my novel

It was painful, but I finally listened to advice provided by many writers upon writing – I deleted several chapters of my novel. Well, technically I just cut and paste them into another document, but it still hurt.

The problem was not that the chapters were no good. I actually felt that they were fine. It’s just that they did not take my characters on the journey that I finally intended for them.

Huh?

Let me explain.

When I first started writing this novel in 2013 I had a very simple premise: the daughter of a magical family from a magical town (in some far distant future where magic and technology are the same) experiences her initiation into adulthood by spending time with the common people of the town and deciding where she would rather be. During this she discovers important values, saves her father from some magical illness, and rescues a friend from a psychotic mad-scientist.

Ok – maybe not so simple.

As I was turning this idea into reality a few more characters and concepts drifted in.

One was an off-world rogue (think Dungeons and Dragons rogue – a magic user and fighter). He was intended to be a tragic werewolf-like character who would be a hero throughout most of the novel and turn into the uber-villain at the end. Problem was that I started feeling sorry for the guy and tried to figure ways to save him.

Next I found myself really warming to the psychotic mad scientist and started expanding his role.

But most of all, I found the background of the story entrancing – the world of Shade. I really wanted to explore it. As a minor aspect of the plot, the girl’s father had contracted the lethal illness while on a vague expedition type thing where he had brought back a magical artefact that I used as a sub-plot driver through part of the book. As for the father, he was some sort of uber-wizard before getting ill and the mother was a feared soldier/assassin who was tasked with defending the community and hence had little time for her daughter.

So I started a second draft of the novel that took the story back about a month and explored some of the events immediately prior to the original start. I really enjoyed writing these and was certain that I had everything sorted. I was wrong because the plot line ceased making sense. I just could not figure out the motivations behind many of the characters. This said, I really enjoyed writing their scenes. They were passionate and dynamic.

Sigh.

I rethought it, stopped the second draft, and made a third start. This felt more like it. But it wasn’t. Oh yes, it was ever so close. I’ve been working on this third start for months and it feels almost right. But not right enough.

Hence today’s decision.

I’m not sure whether it was Stephen King who said that you just have to write every day, even if you end up throwing those words away. I suspect that it was. But that is what I am doing. The experience has taught me more about my characters. I understand them better, and that is critical to any writer. This said, hopefully I won’t be writing something similar in six months time. :)

Thanks for reading my little introspection.

Greg

 

 

7 Comments


  1. Try not to be too Over-self-critical lest you end up with nothing. I know because I’ve been there and done that. :)


    1. I hear you. Don’t worry, I have over 160,000 words written to date and a great deal of it I am really quite stoked by :) And yes, these smileys are MASSIVE.


  2. Yes, even between writing projects, I am always still writing up a storm. I often write “junk” novels, for my own entertainment and will eventually delete the entire manuscripts at a later date. It seems to keep my writing skills sharp and fit, in between writing the important projects that I aim to share with the public. Perhaps, writing and tossing away words every day is the equivalent of how athletes tend to stay in shape, as they’re not in competition every day, yet they have a physical routine/diet every day in order be their best when it’s time for a sport or to run a marathon. Anyway, I wish you all the best on your novel! I’m sure it will come to the conclusions that it was meant to be.

    I would love to add a smiley here… but it’s the attack of the 50-foot smiley on this blog, for some reason. Heehee! *winky face*


    1. Thanks :) I tend to agree with you regarding writing. :) I get a lot of personal fulfilment from it. :)

      I don’t know whether I am remembering this correctly, but I feel that I read somewhere that Tom Clancy’s “Hunt for Red October” took ten years to write. I suspect now that “Tempting in Shade” will take quite a while too. I need to get it right. Not so much for the readers’ sake (if there are any readers) but for my own satisfaction. :)

      Yep – those smileys are HUGE!!!! Don’t know why.

      Thanks my friend :)

      Greg


  3. G’day Greg, firstly it was great to learn that you are finally overcoming the eye problems that have bothered you for so long. 2017 will accordingly be a smoother ride for you.

    Don’t be too concerned about the ‘critics’ assessment of your novel. I’m a member of a local book club and of the twelve tomes we’ve covered this year, I’ve only enjoyed one. The other eleven were, in my view, puerile, convoluted and absolute waffle. However, the other members all drooled over their content. Interestingly, all of the volumes, except the one I did enjoy, have all won literary awards including two Booker prizes.

    Just goers to show how tasted differ. Same as TV. Who could possible endure ‘The real housewives of………’.

    Hoo roo and have a great Christmas with your family and friends.


    1. Thanks, my friend. I think that I have aged more this year than in any previous one. Mostly due to stress over eyes and lack of income. It’s good that I am seeing an end is near(pardon the pun).

      I know what you mean about books that have won literary awards. Being a science fiction fan I exclude the Hugo and Nebula awards from that class, but most other high-brow awards tend to praise books that I wouldn’t read for fun, but rather just to say that I’ve read it. I have a number of fantasy authors whom I really enjoy. One is David Gemmell. He is usually accused by critics of continually writing the same book over and over again, with slight variations. The plot is usually “old soldier-dude with a healthy disrespect for authority, past his prime, looked down upon by society, having to unexpectedly save the very society that rejects him.” Very “Dirty Harry”-like. Yet I love each and every one of those books because they speak to me. So I want to write something that I would enjoy as a reader.

      What are my themes? (I know you did not ask this, but I am asking myself).

      Old, worn themes I guess. Firstly that our reality is just a construct of our perception (yep, the old Rene Descartes thingy). Secondly that magic is just science/technology that we don’t understand yet. I also want to explore good and evil. So nothing new here.

      LOL @ the Real Housewives…. Indeed. Worst show ever is “Embarrassing Bodies”, a show that Nicole finds addictive. I call it “Embarrassing bottoms” because people seem to drop their pants even if they just have an ingrown fingernail.

      You have a great Christmas and New Year too :)

      Thanks

      Greg

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