Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rewriting and Rearranging

I've nearly finished going through the first hundred or so pages of THE WARLORD'S BRIDE and here is what I discovered:

1. Once again, my heroine is too wishy-washy at the start. When I started writing the book, and although she's a sequel character, she was still a little nebulous in my own mind. Now that I've come to know her better by having her front and center in her own book, I have a better understanding of her decisions and how she came to them; therefore, so can she. In other words, because I know more about her decisions and how she came to them, I can make her more aware of her motives, and so more confident about her course of action and more resolute in carrying it out.

Wishy-washy author = wishy-washy character = ooops. And also revisions.

2. I've started in the right place, in the right POV, but I've still got too much backstory, sort of the medieval equivalent of "heroine sitting on plane contemplating her life" sort of thing. Cuts shall ensue.

3. There was a cliche thing happening, in part due to the wishy-washy heroine. I've got a better idea about that particular plot point and the heroine's reaction that should also give a certain revelation even more of an emotional wallop. Yeah!

4. I'm really liking the hero, but I need him to be more intimidating at first. No problemo. That also means when the heroine stands up to him, she'll seem stronger, which will help lessen Wishy-Washy Heroine Syndrome.

5. I have too much similar information scattered throughout the first chapters. I need to consolidate it into one or two places. Some should be held until even later in the story. (I really do tend to put in too much backstory in those first 100 pages.)

6. I should combine two scenes. I was a little uneasy about the time and place of the second, so I'll move it in terms of time and place, and put what came earlier into that same scene.

7. I was concerned about the general timeline. In my first drafts the action often takes place in about two days, tops, and I have to go in and expand it. I have to do that here, too. On the other hand, having a compressed timeline at the beginning is one of the great appeals of an arranged marriage plot. Bingo, you've met, you're married, no long courtship/getting to know you time.

8. Good news -- once I get to the wedding and wedding night, that part seems fine. Well, I still have to reread the love scene. I suspect I'll be consolidating some dialogue there, but in terms of its placement in the overall story? It can stay pretty much where it is is.

Because I've generally got the right things happening in those first hundred pages in terms of the set-up, meet and marriage, I can look ahead and map out what should happen in the next few chapters, as well. Yeah!

However, before I start writing those new scenes, I'm going to revise the first chapters. I want to fix the foundation before going on to the rest of the edifice.


Jen L. said...

Good luck with your revisions! BTW, just bought your newest book a few days ago. I just loved it. Finn was to die for!!!
Great cover on that book too.
I never thought I would love reading historical romance this much, but getting swept up into a world of castles and knights is just so much fun.

Kimber Chin said...

Drat, Jen, you have to taunt me. I still haven't located Knave's Honor. Every time I go to the bookstore, they're out of copies. Must be flying off the shelves.

Margaret, I enjoy hearing about how you build your books. I tend to make my heroines at first too tough, unsympathetic even. Everything is too black and white (which isn't normal either).

Anonymous said...

MM, have you ever written the ending first? I have a girlfriend who has written most of her romances this way and swears by it -- and as she is on book #53 or something, it certainly works for her! I just wondered, as rearranging and rewriting are the bane of my existence now, and I'm looking for tools to cut down on that time gobbler!

Margaret Moore said...

Jen L - thanks! I loved Finn, too. Roslynn's the heroine of THE WARLORD'S BRIDE. I thought she should have her own happy ending.

Kimber -- yet again, another inspiration for a blog post! Thanks! And I'll get to that later today, I hope.

No, I've never written the ending first. I always know, though, how the story is going to end (ie. what the major dramatic lead-in to the crisis and climax and will be); it's the middle where it's more nebulous.

Rearranging and rewriting can be stressful, but in my case, they're necessary to get down deep into the story, to put situations and information where they'll have the maximum impact, and to avoid repetition. In other words, a necessary evil. :-)