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.
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.
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.