Update on writing second book about health care in Nepal
Realize I haven’t updated this in a while. I have been busy with all kinds of things – wonderful things!
I finished the so-called first draft in early December. it was 113,000 words. I was at a point where I needed to get feedback on it before taking another look at it. but by no means ready to be sent off to an agent or publisher. One of the worst things an author can do is to send something like this before it’s ready. I needed to take some time away from this project and also to get some new perspective on it.
It was time to send it to some beta readers. people who could critique it for what it was, and who could tell me if it was plausible, etc. so I did.
I still await some of the beta readers, but I did hear back from the early ones, and they told me two things:
1) get a copy of The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass. Which I did. Now, on the previous book, I knew I had a story to tell but I also knew I was a writer with limitations. For that project, I bought a book about writing, and used it to teach myself to be a better writer than I was. ( the book was The making of a story if you must know). I gave that book to my daughter when I was through.
Back to Maass. this book is engaging, and brings up the issues of point of view, conflict, and tension. He gives a set of prompts to apply to critiquing your own work, which I found to be very helpful. I knew I had a story to tell, with great characters and plot, but I wanted this to be the best it could possibly be, and to do justice to the residents of this book I needed to present every single on as a three-dimensional person who the reader could love ( or hate. or at least, understand). And so, the process of revision includes systematically applying those prompts to my Work-In-Progress. ( henceforth referred to as my WIP)
2) cut out 35,000 words. and save it for a sequel. It’s difficult for any writer to hear somebody say that a third of the book needs to be chopped, but my beta reader had the sweetest possible way to phrase this. she said “I fell in love with (female character number one) and I couldn’t get enough of (the male hero of the novel). I was so enthralled with those two, that I skipped over all the sections of (female character number two) to see what happened to them. It was only then that I read the sections I skipped. they were really great but I bonded with the first story so much that I just think you have the makings of a second book already.”
So, I removed those, and voila – the WIP got tighter and more readable and more fun. Also, it’s back to a manageable size – now at 83,000 words. At the original length I was going to have to do some serious editing. Now, I can focus on the story as opposed to getting forced to think about length with every single word that was put on the page.
anyway, the beta reader process continues.
about characters in 3-D
the people you meet in a book are memorable if they are real. In real life, there are heroes who have flaws. A hero can do something amazing part of the time and also be a jerk at other times. Likewise, a villain can have some redeeming feature; or else when you learn more about them you realize the tragic parts of their life story that made them into the jerk they are today. I desperately want to convey that in my book. And that is what I am working on now.
Anyway – thanks for reading this – and Happy New Year to everyone