Monday, April 28, 2014

Death and Rebirth of a Novel

Long, long ago, in the far-away dystopic land called “High School”, I took a creative writing class and wrote a short story I titled “The Tower.” A princess, a knight, a rescue – it was the end of a fairy tale with a twisted ending. I loved it as only a geeking-out fangirl can love a thing. Which is a lot.

Three years later, I started to turn the short into a novella; the novella became a manuscript, and the manuscript became a monster. As many beginning writers do, I flailed and wrote blindly. I can honestly say I wrote arrogantly, as many young 20-somethings who think they are the shiz. Plot points and character arcs? Pshaw. I wrote what I thought was cool and fun. And then I hated it and threw it out.

When I met my critique group a few years ago, I was working on a middle grade novel. By the time I started sending the fairy tale pages to my group, I hadn’t touched it in two or three years.

My critique partners tore it to shreds and one very correctly pointed out that Chapter 7 needed to be Chapter 1. I rewrote the entire manuscript. Here at Beyond the Trope we fondly refer to this process as “ripping up your soul” or “killing your darlings.” It feels the way it sounds.

Last night I finished the rewrite and felt such a mix of emotions that for a while I couldn’t think. Then I realized that what I was feeling was a “Hello” and a “Goodbye” happening at the same time. The ending is a far cry from what I envisioned in the short story. In fact, from beginning to end, this manuscript has completely changed. It’s a totally different book. My “Goodbye” was to that first vision, the first dream. And the “Hello” was an excited greeting to this new thing and the adventure that comes with it.

Rewriting was terrible, but I’m so glad I did it. Now I can really get into the nitty-gritty (aka rip apart my soul even more). And after that, who knows? I’m looking forward to many more goodbyes and hellos.

How do you feel when you finish the final sentence of a manuscript or draft up a brand-new creative project?  

Michelle has recently discovered the power of coffee shops for instigating creative productivity. She puts pen to page – er, keyboard key to computer screen at Beyond the Trope's blog on Mondays. 

1 comment:

  1. For a book you started in high school, it's turned out VERY well! Many of those books just end up under the bed, but I see great potential for this project once you're done editing it.