When I left for vacation I resolved not to do anything writing-y while I was gone, with the exception of catching up on blog reading when I had the internet access to do it. That lasted a good five or six days, at which point I received the result of a contest a while back in the form of some really fantastic feedback from an agent on the first three chapters of the manuscript. The strangest thing was that it wasn’t anything I hadn’t realized about my own manuscript--some of you may recall my the-beginning-sucks-but-I-don’t-know-how-t
I let the idea simmer a while, and wrote back to the agent in the meantime saying basically "hell yes, I will revise this and send it back." Eventually I couldn’t quite stand it anymore and started writing the new beginning despite my resolution to actually take a vacation from writing work while on vacation.
So I’ve been doing a lot of writing the past couple of days. Of the 3,454 words in the new first chapter, about 120 of them came from the previous draft. The rest of the beginning will be similarly completely redone. I’m feeling pretty good about it, though, for exactly one reason:
Lark’s voice is finally solid. Voice is so hard to define, and it’s one of the novel elements that makes me the most nervous for that reason. What is voice? How do you know if yours is good? What can you do if it isn’t?
Although the pacing and exposition weaving and all of those things have been getting a bit better with each draft, I realized this morning that the one thing that makes each draft better than the last is that Lark’s voice gets a little more defined and a little more consistent with each draft. And the biggest problem with my beginning, beyond any issues with pacing or tension, was that her voice was all over the place.
Things left to do:
Finish rewriting new beginning
Join new beginning with rest of book
Iron out all the wrinkles/references throughout the book
Monitor Lark’s voice through novel to make sure it matches
Fix ending (???)
Yeah. So the beginning of the list, very doable. I expect to do that in the next couple of days. But that last item’s the issue. I wish there was such a thing as a last three chapter critique I could get from somewhere. But since there isn’t, I need to just buckle down and figure it out myself. I’ve got some great feedback from readers and CPs to help me with that. Right now the ending feels abrupt, somewhat anticlimactic. A certain revelation, which takes place a chapter or two before the climax, is currently overshadowing the ending. And since I have no desire to dumb the revelation down, I must instead ramp up the ending. Which, really, is what I should be doing anyway.
I’m fighting the part of me that’s shouting “Ending schmending! LET’S GET QUERYING” tooth and nail. Oh man, the impatience, guys. But I know it’s not quite there. Just looking for that ending. Inspiration will come.
Really. Aaaaany second now. . . .