Thursday, January 17, 2013

Novel Update

I've been busy working on my novel since the New Year and thought it was time for a little update on my progress.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, I finished the second draft of my novel and gave a copy to my sister Katherine to read and critique during her winter break. Honestly, as I passed the novel to my sister, I was feeling a little "eh" about the whole thing. I had written the story I wanted to write ... but not really. It felt like I was only halfway there, but I didn't know how to push my novel any further.

I wanted to tell Katherine about all my concerns and insecurities for the novel, but she would not let me. She wanted to read the novel with a fresh perspective. She is a wise little sister.

Katherine also told me to take a break, so I did. (Have I mentioned how smart she can is?) I started doing some random creative writing and developed a pair of characters that really excited me. Suddenly, I wanted to abandon my novel and write about these new characters. That first novel was a piece of garbage and should be forgotten. I shouldn't waste any more time on it.

But then, before she even finished reading the entire thing, my sister started to give me some overall comments about my novel. Most importantly, although my novel had a beginning, I never really knew when it should start. I felt like the first 100 pages were kind of boring, but I didn't know how to ditch those pages. And even though I had not told her this, Katherine basically said the same thing, but she had a solution: (a) start with the scene at a Vermont motel (pg. 97) and weave the first 96 pages back into the story as flashbacks. Brilliant.

I wanted to jump right back into working on my novel, but the holidays were rapidly approaching, and Katherine was still editing. So I waited. Right before Christmas, Katherine returned my novel with hundreds of comments inked into the margins. Again, I wanted to jump right back into work, but I carefully set the revised copy aside and waited for the New Year. That seemed like a good time to get back to work.

Since the New Year, I have been re-reading my novel and considering all of Katherine's comments. They have been very helpful and given me dozens of ideas for how I can improve the next draft of my novel. I kept a running list of all these ideas, and then yesterday and this morning, I turned it into a master checklist. I highly doubt I'll be able to finish all these revisions before Baby Girl arrives, so I wanted to create a road map now while the ideas are fresh. That way, whenever I do have the time to get back to my novel (the fall? 2014? the next decade?), I'll be able to easily remember the changes I want to make.

My checklist is pretty bad ass. It's fifteen pages long with 78 different items. I feel like that should be intimidating, but it's not. It's exhilarating. 

Thank you, Katherine! You are a rock star.