After a first cut, my Attention Deficit Disorder kicks in.
Well here I am, the proud owner of a completed manuscript. Completed in first draft that is. I just finished reading it and had some good news and bad news for myself.
The Bad news is:
1 The story rambles and has gaping holes.
2. There are key components of a good novel, that are not in evidence.
3. Several of the supporting characters are more compelling than the main character.
4. It's written using “Flash Scenes,” a technique I rely on extensively and no one else seems to use.
5. Any editor reading it, in this form, would shake her head and mutter, “Amateur,” pitching it onto the discard heap.
The Good news is that it’s an exciting and compelling story and even though I wrote it, the reread kept me on the edge of my seat and in several places punched my emotion button.
"Well," I said to myself," I did it. When I get to the "Great Story Teller in the Sky, I can tell him I wrote a stage play and a fiction novel."
My attention is drawn to my garage and the 1952 Ford Dump Truck I’m rehabilitating. There's something about working with your hands and seeing the instant reinforcement that follows. It's hard to beat. I love to work on mechanical and electrical devices and there's nothing to compare with the thrill of rebuilding an engine and hearing it roar to life. For the past six months my “Hanger Queen,” had been sitting out there, neglected, and with Spring coming I need to get out of this damn basement and out of my cubicle. As I’m about to go outside, however, I hear a snort of disgust. It's my muse.
“Quitter!” I cringe at the tone of her voice and her scorn goes thorugh me like a chill of fever. “You’re going to leave our children, who have yet to see the light of day, and consign all these months of work into into obscurity! If you walk out on me now, then don't ever think about sucking up again."
Suddenly my creative light goes out and I'm plunged into a darkness of the dreaded soup.
“Don’t get so touchy!” I answer back, “It was just wistful thinking. That damn truck isn’t going anywhere!”
The Nun from Hell has struck again and I'm left a quivering mass of jelly. So here I sit, getting ready to do my second draft. What a hopeless task it seems, but then it occurrs to me that it could be worse. From the perspective of a cup half full, I now have a story that leads from start to finish. I know who the characters are and what is going to happen. What if I were to correct the structural shortcomings that are so clear now in retrospect and using a reverse outline, fit the story to a new framework?"
For example my heroine needs some beefing up, to stand above her supporting characters. How about some conflicts, goals and setbacks to show how compelling she really is?
And the structure is deficient. In this reference book I read, it says there has to be three disasters. One in each of the three phases. I have some setbacks, but maybe I can amp these minor traffic bumps into some serious adversity.
And maybe I should look closely at each chapter and ask myself, “What is the central scene?" It says here that they’re like the vertebrate of a skeleton. Are mine critical to the continuity of the story or are they just hanging around? Finally, consider the ancillary scenes. Are they really all necessary?
Yeah! And there’s plenty more I need to do but I don’t want to give away all the secrets I’ve stolen.
“Don’t give up on me yet!" I cry out! I"m going to make this novel a number one best seller! Mark my words."
“Yeah right!” I hear a whisper, from my subconscious. “I’ll believe that when I see the check.”