One week on

Sunday, December 10, 2006, 3:51 PM

It is now seven days since I changed from someone who wants to write a novel into someone who has written a novel. I'm still very happy about crossing that threshold, but I have had a week of ups and downs since then. I've been plagued by insecurity about the book, convincing myself that it's no good. Those insecurities were eased somewhat by the help and encouragement I received when my hook was critiqued (see below).

I have since read the entire novel from start to finish, and I have to admit, I quite enjoyed it! I admit it was too soon - I should have waited at least a week or two to get some distance on it. I will definitely do that before going back over it for the first proper revision.

On this run through I did do a little tweaking here and there. I found some typos the spellchecker had missed. I modified the occasional paragraph to allow for changes in direction the story took. I fiddled with punctuation here and there, replaced the odd word now and then, and generally gave it a quick tidy up. Now I will wait before I go back and really pull it apart.

A few observations on my first complete read through:

1) It's better than I thought. Yeah, I know, I'm hardly the most objective reader this thing's going to get. But I enjoyed it, I really did. It was fun getting to know the characters from the ground up again and seeing how they progressed through the plot. Occasionally, I would find a turn of phrase, a description, a metaphor, or a line of dialogue that made me raise my eyebrows and say to myself, "Here, that's not bad at all."

2) There are less holes in it than I thought I'd find. Of course, there are things that will need addressing when I do the first real rewrite, but less than I imagined there to be.

3) Reading it again in light of agonising over the hook for a few days helped me see where certain aspects of the plot and characters could be reinforced. That, I think, will be the greatest challenge of the rewriting process.

4) It's a very fast read. It's a short book by most standards, but it's certainly a full length novel, so I was surprised by how quickly I tore through it. I honestly don't know if this is good, bad or indifferent. My prose style is pretty straightforward - there's no padding or fluff. It's all show, no tell, as it should be, and there's not much in the line of flowery language. So, it could just be that it's a fast paced page turner - that's being ultra-optimistic. On the other hand, maybe it's a little lightweight. Maybe it needs more meat on its lean framework. Perhaps addressing point three will help rein in the pace a little and lend it some gravitas. Or, maybe it just seems fast because I wrote the damned thing and I already know what happens.

So, it shan't be looked at again at least until after Miss Snark's Crap-O-Meter IV. I have the willpower of a starving dog, but I am determined to leave it be for now. I might not post on here again until after the dreaded 15th unless something extraordinary occurs between now and then.

In the meantime I shall mull over some other ideas. There's one in particular that came to me a week or two ago. It's very bare bones at the moment, but I like the protagonist and the situation he's faced with, so I'll see where it goes. I might also try to find the aborted novel from a few years ago to see if any life can be breathed back into its weathered carcass. After all, it was 60,000 words along when it died on me, so you never know, a fresh perspective might be just the thing to revive it.


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