Two lovers, oh yeah. You wouldn’t think it from my bio photo, but I’m a major player. (I can’t say “playa” because I’m only allowed to use the Suburban Dictionary.) Two lovers, dig, and—with apologies to Mary Wells—I ain’t ashamed. But dang if I’m not flummoxed, because even sharing my keyboard between the two is daunting.
What I’d like to discuss is a surfeit of joy: working on two novels at once. (Note: the term “joy” in this instance is synonymous with “confounding,” “nettlesome” and “vexatious.”) My first lover is my old novel, the discussion of which I used to suffocate you in a blizzard of words at my last WU picnic. But as the bad penny always comes back, I have to hit you here with all two cents’ worth.
I returned from the writer’s conference where I workshopped the first 20 pages of the book, laden with 10 fellow workshopper’s comments, and those of two of the group leaders, both fine novelists. (Need I point out that 10 + 2 = 12? Obviously a jury.) Verdict: guilty of not making clear, early enough, what’s at stake for the lead characters, two of whom were introduced in alternating chapters, where each held the POV.
Sputtering Plot Flames, Rekindled
But, but, I was being subtle, I was stacking the kindling to the plot flames that would light character fireplaces, I was balancing setting, conflict, and hinted intrigue so that the gingerbread scents would pull the reader’s nose further in.[pullquote]But, but, I was being subtle, I was stacking the kindling for the plot flames that would light character fireplaces, I was balancing setting, conflict and hinted intrigue so that the gingerbread scents would pull the reader’s nose further in.[/pullquote]
But then I read the commented chapters again—yep, not enough exposure of the character’s sinews, so readers might get a clue where they stretch or where they snap.
In my last WU screed, I suggested I might abandon this novel, because after all, I’ve been working on another, and it’s young, it’s fresh, it’s exciting! It can’t accuse me of not paying attention or not taking out the trash like this older one could. Those old novels know you so well, roll their eyes at your rhetorical tricks, know your advances might just lead to a sentence or two shifted rather than delivering a long, loving tumble through sweaty paragraphs. [Read more…]