Disowning Your Book-Child

Ok, disowning may be a harsh term, but I have finally found that healthy degree of separation from where I was as an author last year and where I am right now. I finally, finally, finally got serious with looking at Capacitance and doing a harsh critique. It has been very harsh. So far, I have wanted to chop pretty much every chapter I’ve gone through. This is a long way from last year when I’d just finished the book and was wantonly shopping it around to every agent out there–utterly terrifying first page and all.

Now, I have a process. I read the chapter, and don’t even really line edit as I feel like (for the first ten or so chapters at least) I will need to do an entire overhaul. Instead, I take notes of key points, concepts, character building and world building that I established in the chapter. This way, I re-align with my characters, story and world. So far, this method has already led to some great over-arching questions about the story and some specific modifications I know I want to make.

I am considering some major modifications. World-altering (their world, not ours), relationship-dynamic changing modifications. Now that I am a year away from birthing the precious first baby of a book, I can see some of the critiques agents were throwing around about the characters’ relationships being inorganic. There are some critiques that I am still a little iffy on, but as a whole I see where the agents were coming from and I think that’s a good thing. Their remarks may sting, but they are industry professionals–when all is said and done, they know what sells.

Sadly, many of the poetic metaphors and paragraphs of adjective-laden exposition do not sell. Reading through them again and at a distance, I can see why. Especially in the first few chapters, this dramatic use of language is not going to reel anyone it. It is going to bore them to death. Several times while editing, I found myself shaking my head saying to myself (aloud I might add!), “Ok, ok, I get it, you can do cool s&*t with words. Now get on with it!” If I am resorting to profanity over my own writing, I can only imagine what readers’ reactions would be!

It’s not all negative when I edit. I really am at a point where I feel very energized to go back and tackle the story from an entirely new vantage point. I know I can make it better. I know I have come a long way since last year. My prose has gotten cleaner, my story has developed to the point where I have much more of a world built up. I know I need to add suspense and stakes–now that I have had practice raising the stakes for the duration of the succeeding two books, I am more confident in my ability to do so. The key now is to try and gain some focus to actually channel this excitement and motivation. With all the activities and things going on in my life right now, finding focus might be the biggest struggle.

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