Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I agree.on the history dump. I noticed this seemed to happen quite a few times in the book to explain the relevance of some event, which felt largely unnecessary and distracting. It was as if the writer didn't have the confidence to go for it but had to anchor on broadcast parts.|
Yes, a couple of reordering bits would be nice tweaks that would make some difference.
This first one was really a trial to see how everyone found it and see if it's worth continuing.
You're right it's challenging to do the exercise. I had in mind trying to keep as closely to the source as I could but a few changes to the order and wording to make it flow better rather than how I'd have done it if I was the author and the source was an early draft. The latter is probably a better approach.
The Writing Thread (Novels, scripts, screenplays etc.) • Page 5
Iím outlining a book. The premise involves a mother getting a sudden illness or an accident and then it being investigated and solved throughout the book by the son.
The Ďproblemí Iím having is when to have the incident to the mother. Iíd considered starting off with it early, i.e. chapter 1, however the reader will have no idea of who the mother is and so not care about her and so wonít think much of anything happening to her. On the other hand if I introduce the mother, other than some banal interactions with the son and possibly others, will anyone care about a character that hasnít done anything and put the book down before they get to the hopefully exciting bit? Or do I just need to work harder to introduce and get to the know the mother before the incident?
Dgzter 2,922 posts
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Are you attached to the idea of the 'accident' itself occurring during/throughout the course of the narrative? Or might it have already happened by the outset?
For some reason, your brief description put me in mind of the beginning to Donna Tartt's The Little Friend. That begins with a short-ish prologue establishing the key incident that drives the novel, in Tartt's case the mysterious murder of a child on Mother's Day in the American south. If you've got a kindle, or the kindle app, you can nab the free sample off Amazon, which includes that small introductory section. Might be worth giving it a read?
Edited by Dgzter at 12:42:35 20-12-2019
I'm attached to the idea of it happening during the book rather than having already happened. But not much, I'm outlining.
I shall, thanks. I've been thinking about the kite runner as that starts off with a shocking event which forms the basis of the book too.
I've made a start on my first draft. One chapter in but I thought I'd put it out there for feedback. I'm quite proud of it. My wife read it, admittedly late at night and said she struggled to follow some of it.
Would be grateful for another opinion if anyone fancies have a look. It's just over 800 words, so less than 5 minutes reading.
BearFishPie 763 posts
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@jrmat Itís reading well so far. It does need a pass to fix a couple of minor grammatical errors, and the odd sentence which is a little tricky to parse (careful about using Ďsheí to describe the wife and daughter in the same sentence).
I think having the chapter title refer to death of a family member lends the whole thing an air of tension, which shells pull the reader in. Iím not sure what in particular is supposed to have triggered the protagonistís current mood - is that deliberately vague at this point in the story?
A nice start. I like the casual rhythm and fairly pared back style.
@BearFishPie Thanks mate. Yep, the doubling up on shes needs sorting.
The title is the working title of the book, rather than chapter title. I wasn't planning on naming the chapters.
I'm trying to show that since having the baby it's reminded him of traumatic events in his past that has effected his mood but he's been indecisive about telling his wife which has worsened the tension that goes along with the natural disruption of having baby. She's noticed, points it out and gets him to tell her. So the next 90% of the book will then be him recounting past events, with the occasional break to remind the reader that he's recounting a story to his wife and then ending in the present on a positive note after the past traumas.
@rice_sandwich Ta. That's the impression I'm trying to give of the guy. He's been laid back, too laid back for his family's liking, but he's observant and capable, which is what he uses to resolve the events in the novel with traumatic consequences that he's never gotten over. Until the final chapter of the book obviously
One issue I can think of is that It might be awkward or repetitive in terms of language to recount past events in first person.
I have gone back to my Nano book I abandoned in 2013. I wrote a wee bit last year and have now resurrected it again. I'm about 500 pages into it and haven't the slightest clue how I'm going to end it or what the hell is actually going on. But I'm just going to wing it. I'm hoping another 50K words will finish it off completely but then what do I do? The thought of actually seeing if there's a story worth rescuing here is terrifying. I have about about 20 sub plots and characters all over the shop. I should ditch some but don't see the point til I'm finished.
Any tips for editing a first draft?
At that length it sounds like you could easily cut out at least 100 pages. Perhaps you can organise it into different streams and see what stands alone and what can be chopped.
Am I best off printing it out and going through it with a pen do you think? Even my character notes are half arsed and disorganised, let alone my structure notes. Bloody mess. Was thinking I should make new notes as I read through it and try and iron out character inconsistencies etc as well as streamlining the plot? There's a hell of a lot of laboured exposition in there as well, I know that much.
Edited by wuntyate at 12:30:20 15-01-2020
I'd get scrivener or a free alternative and cut it up into chunks. This will allow you to sort it into timelines, chapters, characters etc.
Yeah. I'm not planning on doing that exactly. The book will be set in the past, so it'll read like a normal novel most of which are written in the past tense. So whilst he'll be talking to his wife, you won't know it. There will be the occasional break to the present as a separate chapter, that will only really serve the purpose to remind the reader what they're actually reading, those chapters will be in the present tense as the first one is.
If you've read Beware of Pity, the idea is it will be in that sort of style where he's recounting a tale of woe to someone. However other than being told this in the introduction you're not aware of it whilst reading the meat of the book.
@rice_sandwich I'll check out Scrivener, cheers. Doesn't look too costly and seems to have a lot of features that will help my poor overwhelmed brain.
Try producing 100, 200 and 300 page versions of your story. It might help to boil it down to essentials and then add stuff back in.
Right yes, good idea. Strip it back. It definitely needs a lot of trimming. I think it's just such a terrifying prospect but suppose will actually turn out to be quite liberating.
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