I made a bunch of mistakes with my first book back. Ironically, some of them were caused by trying to avoid the mistakes I'd made in my first career.
I gave myself one firm rule. Don't rewrite until the first draft is done.
The first mistake I made was forcing myself to finish too soon. I wrote about half the book and stalled. After several months, I went on a "writing vacation" to the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City. Since I'd spent the money and cleared the time, I pretty much made myself write SOMETHING. The book went off in a wild tangent with which I've had trouble with ever since.
The basic idea that I needed to finish the book was correct. It's possible if I hadn't forced the issue I might never have attempted another book--especially since I'd had several books where I'd gotten several chapters in before stopping.
But the book suddenly had a wildly different tone. I'd started off trying to be snarky, but they have a saying on Broadway; Satire is what closes on Saturday night. It's hard to feel for characters who are being smart-assed all the time. Plus if you're going to pull that off for an entire book, you'd better be pretty good.
I hadn't thought through the motivations of the characters. It's hard to go back and do that.
I knew I was in trouble when I gave it to Martha and she said, "All the characters sound like you."
The idea that I shouldn't rewrite was also more or less correct, but I should have allowed myself a few course corrections.
And though I don't outline a book, it's generally a good idea to try to think it through a little. It so easy to write yourself into a corner, and to go back and try to change is more difficult, frankly, than starting a new book.
At the same time I was forcing the book, I was also worried about length, and looked for ways to add, which also created unnecessary problems.
So ironically, I ended up with a mess of a book that was similar to the same messes I'd made 25 years before. Through a dozen or more rewrites, I've finally gotten "Fairylander" close to where it needs to be. I liked the idea and the story enough to try to do that.
I was really lucky to have stumbled upon writing the "fun" book of "Freedy Filkins." I did this for my own amusement: a cyberpunk Hobbit. It got me in the groove, made me remember how to tell a story. Same with "The Reluctant Wizard."
By the time I attempted "Death of an Immortal" I had a process in place that pretty much worked, and I've followed that process ever since, with a few refinements.
In other words, I had to go through the mistakes to get to the solutions.
But of course, I keep making mistakes. Every book has its own problems.
With "Bigfoot Ranch," I created a couple of dilemmas without meaning to.
The first is: I chose to do it in 1st person. I've avoided first person through most of my writing. For one thing, it feels too easy. For another, it restricts how much knowledge and terrain I can cover. It all has to come from one viewpoint, and that limits the scope of the book somewhat.
I've decided to add a second (3rd person) narrator, which will help, but is still somewhat limiting.
The second problem is that I decided to make it a wilderness "chase" book, which was a great idea. But now that I'm writing it I'm realizing that it will be difficult to sustain an entire book. It just isn't credible to write 35 chapters of escape. I've done about 12 chapters, and I can probably do another 8, but even that is stretching it. Add the 1st person narration and it becomes almost impossible to sustain a full book.
So there will be a transition at some point to another setting. Which I think will work fine.
I'm trying not to worry too much about length. I need 80K words minimum, but I often find myself reaching my word goal without any extra efforts. We'll see what happens. I tend to add between 10 and 15% words in the rewrites, since my problem isn't too much but too little.
I just keep telling myself to write the next chapter and it will all come out fine in the end.
5 days ago