Just like yesterday, I started with page one today. The first chapter is a magnet, pulling me in every time I open the file. I know it’s just my second draft and I should probably “let it be” the way it is, for now, and move on. Yes, I know that! But I can’t. Couldn’t. So I spent half a day revising chapter one. Oh, well. At least I reduced it by…a hundred plus words, being governed by the word quality rather than quantity, even though I should lengthen my manuscript, not shorten it.
When I finally moved to the second chapter, I remembered another word—conflict. Mr. Conflict, I call it, thinking of it as masculine, because in Russian it is. 🙂
As Donald Maass advises in his book, Writing the Breakout Novel, I have to “put conflict on every page” (28). So I went back to chapter one—Argh!—and checked for conflict in it, even though I knew that there was one. Of course, I knew. But was it strong and intriguing enough? Nah-uh! Not quite. I’d have to think more about it some more, and then some more, and get back to it later. Perhaps tomorrow.
By the way, Mr. Maass says, “I do not learn much from most novelists’ discussions of their working method. I have found everything that I need right at the source: on the pages of breakout novels. They are our textbooks.” (29) Interesting, huh? Because he then goes and writes this book on how to create fiction. And it’s a great book. So great that I consider it my Bible. I personally learn both from great novels and from instructive books like his. So I’ll consult and refer to it constantly. High-five to Mr. Maass!
OK. I’ve done only two pages of chapter 2. If I work at this snail pace, I’ll finish this book in about…uh…five years? 🙂 I hope not that long. But I can’t move fast, not yet. I have to keep in mind so many things: Nick’s voice (he’s the narrator now and he’s got to sound the way he does in the previous two novels), setting, emotions, authentic dialogue, and…oh, yeah, conflict, too, on every page! Which I don’t have—yet. Oh, brother…
But I’ll finish this chapter tomorrow, rain or shine!