Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Closing the first act

Tonight I have finally reached "the end" of what I'm calling "Act 1" of my rewrite. It's taken longer than I planned. Much longer. And it's not even the end, really, because I feel as though I need to read through it to fix the rough edges. I know there are plenty of these -- things I've raised and then forgotten about. The irony is that most of these are things I was supposed to be addressing in the rewrite! How could I have forgotten them? (Well, not so much forgotten as let slip . . .) There are so many damn things to remember when writing a novel. It's a bit hard to keep a handle on it all. The good news is that it's only one of my character lines that feels a bit rough. It's way more complex, of course, which is why.

Sigh. So do I go on, or do I go back?

I really want to go on, because reaching the end of Act 1 means I get to move into Act 2, where stuff really starts happening. Act 1 is merely the setup. All 39,000 words of it. (This is up from 25,000 words in the previous draft.) I will say here that I am generally really pleased with how it's coming along, and am not at all fazed about the increase in word count. I've spent a lot of time and effort on deepening character and plot in particular. I believe that's one of the roles of a rewrite -- at least the type I'm doing. Take a draft that's OK in essence and make it more complex and interesting. I hope I'm achieving that. I also hope that I can continue deepening etc and that it's not only "Act 1" that's going to end up longer, or the whole thing will be out of balance.

Anyway, I've been looking forward to reaching this point for ages (months). I want to leap into it. The next chapter is all I can think about! But this little nagging voice is telling me to print out the first 15 chapters, read them through with a pen/highlighter, and spend a week or so making sure they're as right as I can get them, before going on. I believe an appropriate metaphor would be a house needs sound foundations on which to stand. (mutter mutter mutter) I should point out that I don't actually want to perfect it at this stage. It's just that I want to make sure there aren't any glaring holes or inconsistencies that could bite me later if I don't eyeball and/or fix them now.

I don't know. Maybe I'll get some of the next chapter out of my system and then go back. It's not like it's going anywhere!


  1. When I am writing stuff for work, sometimes I just don't see everything if I go back and look at it immediately. Doing something else and then returning to the initial work later allows me to look at it with fresh eyes. Then I can clearly see where the holes are.

  2. Two suggestions about rereading. My experience is - first - read it aloud. It makes enormous difference. Second - find a friendly and devoted editor. I had chance to have one and could not believe what lapses she found in my otherwise perfectly correct texts.

  3. All sound advice to which I also can attest. There is simply no easy way. (Sigh)