Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!
Vivian’s Last Cigarette had a great deal of editing movement this week, specifically last Wednesday. Jessica, finally feeling better, started on the second act and ended up reading all five chapters in one sitting. Then she DEMANDED the last act to finish the book, politely. I obliged, kind soul that I am, and the next day she read the final chapters and said that she enjoyed the novel very much.
I’m sure all my fellow authors out there can imagine how good seeing someone really enjoy my work made me feel.
Jess has started her second reads this week to provide detailed notes for each. That will give me plenty to work on going forward.
Also on last Wednesday, Lauren completed her first read-through of the third draft of act one. She sent me a lengthy and thorough initial assessment of the act, ahead of starting her more detailed chapter notes with a second read of each. There was much positive feedback, but Lauren also pointed out what she felt were some serious flaws in the draft.
We probably exchanged about 6,000 words combined in emails between the two of us that reached into Saturday. Together we parsed, clarified and hashed out these problems. Lauren advocated very strongly about how these issues hurt the book, and her concerns touched on a tone that Jessica had reading the first four chapters initially. So I listened, and gave Lauren’s opinions a lot of weight because they crossed over to that prior critique. And she had some incredibly good points.
I’ve had concerns about the first act myself, but I couldn’t discern if the latter chapters (4-8) were slow reading, or if it was the development of Viv and Gronk’s relationship that was too fast. It felt “off” to me, but I couldn’t put a finger to it. Beyond Jess’ initial impressions of the first four chapters, neither she nor Kim’s detailed feedback mentioned it as a major issue. So I brushed aside my concerns as first-novel jitters.
My back-and-forth with Lauren really helped to highlight things in a way that illumed the problem that was bugging me. It’s not an issue of the second half of the first act being slow, but one of it being presented prematurely.
The latter chapters are interesting, but as they are currently presented I have neither allowed the reader’s investment in the characters to develop adequately nor allowed the characters themselves to develop into the moments presented. The relationship is rushed; it’s missing an early component and the needed time to cook.
After spitballing ideas back and forth with Lauren, it became clear that I’ve got some more work to do on the novel. Specifically, its opening chapters. I feel in my gut that the second and third acts are solid, with chapters 12, 13 and climactic chapter 14 being some of the strongest in the book. Jessica enjoying and burning through those acts in just two days time makes me confident of that.
So here’s my plan:
I’m going to write two new chapters.
These chapters aren’t rewrites, they’re additions that will be inserted between chapter one and what is currently chapter two. That will transform chapter two into the fourth chapter afterwards. The very end of first chapter will get a little rewrite to accommodate the additions to the story, and in changing the second into a fourth chapter it will also be reworked but remain recognizable.
However, beyond adjusting a few small details and some short and strategic additions, the remaining chapters of the book shouldn’t need anything close to heavy revision.
What the new chapters will do is frontload the beginning with more physical action/excitement, and humor. They will strengthen the good opening that I’ve already got, and build on it to create a longer hook. Finally, these chapters will allow Viv and Gronk more time to develop as characters and allow readers to build the proper investment in them prior to the quiet humor and emotion of second half of the act.
I’ve got some ideas that I’m really excited to write for these two new chapters. I was plotting, smiling and laughing all weekend and now that I’m getting started on the new material I’m really enjoying myself!
On the downside, this is likely going to take me a month or more to write. I’m estimating it will be about a 10,000 word addition to the novel, and that addition will need its own editing cycle before I start up the beta reading conveyor belt again.
That will get the book to length of around 85-90,000 words, still far away from becoming oversized which is good. But it’s going to push-out the release date of the book… there’s just no way around that.
However, I want Vivian’s to be the best book it can possibly be. While getting it done is important, getting it done right is more important.
This gives me a clear plan of action this week: I’ll be to working through Lauren’s detailed notes for chapter one, and creating a fourth draft with them. That will include modifying the ending to lead into the start a new chapter two. Then it’s onto writing the new material, I’ll get back to edits after that hefty chunk of work is done.
Time to get started. :-)
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!