That is the word for the day. The light coming in the window flashes here and there as the pines wave in the wind. I went for a walk earlier and skittered along on the ice, watching chickadees chatter in the trees.
Inside, the Great Rewrite Adventure has hit an expected snag. Namely, the difficulty of explaining things, again, while maintaining the requisite level of freshness. I need to knock back the “my toys, figure it out yourself” urge that comes up when I look for new ways of describing the Aware.
That’s not the sole issue, though. When I wrote The Lost, I structured it the way that made sense to me: sequentially. There are three acts, and the first takes place over a period of time six to eight years prior to the last two. I love the first act (have I mentioned that I love the whole novel), but the continuity is challenging.
Trying to coax readers through that change in time taught me more about writing for others than practically any other experience I’ve had. It was the first point at which I really thought about all the pieces and how I needed to lay them out. It was the transition between writing totally for my own entertainment and writing for the entertainment of others. Blue Riley exists only because of what I learned writing The Lost.
But the truth is that the time change remains a hard leap. It’s more than just the time. By sticking to a linear shape that begins with teens, I set up the expectation of young adult fiction. It could go that way. I could force everything into a different time span. In fact, I’ve already done it. Wren is the first act, written from a different POV and with a YA focus.
In thinking about which pieces are most important to save, though, because much of the work of this rewrite is triage, I’ve realized I’m more drawn to the later acts. To focus on the first act, no matter how I love it, is to change so much of everything that follows. To be clear, what follows are two more books, so the change is not insignificant. (A note on the trilogy: most people will tell you never to write a trilogy without selling the first book. This is logical, if you write the first book with the goal of publication. If you do not, and if part of your goal in writing all three books is to learn about writing novels, then plowing ahead works really well.)
Of course, it’s not quite as simple as lopping off the beginning. The new version has become a nonlinear story, told from the POV of a character whose damaged mind wavers between present and memory. For now, I’m sifting through that first third, searching for the pivotal scenes and thinking about where they need to be woven into the rest. It’s complicated work, something like a jigsaw puzzle lacking an image to refer to. Which details stay, which details go, how much needs to be retained to maintain the essence of the original story? If I move this, how much do the characters shift, and in a direction I want?
Okay, time to go warm my hands and get to work. Stay cozy.